Gulfstream Park hosts the richest race in the world, the Pegasus World Cup, this Saturday. A Grade I event worth $12 million ($1 million kicked in by stakeholders for each horse), the Pegasus pits two-time Horse of the Year CALIFORNIA CHROME against last year’s Travers Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner ARROGATE. The field of 12 will go 1 1/8th miles on the main oval at approximately 5:40 p.m EST. It’s the last of 12 races on a program chock-full of graded stakes. In addition to watching and wagering, you can take part in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game.
#12 CALIFORNIA CHROME (6-5, morning-line favorite) drew poorly but fared better than #1 ARROGATE, who received the rail. The Art Sherman trainee and Victor Espinoza may go a bit wider than is ideal on the first turn if some rivals flash unexpected early speed, but on paper it appears ARROGATE and #4 NOBLE BIRD will be the only ones with designs on going to the lead. ‘CHROME should be able to settle no worse than three-wide if the pace is slow. His best-case scenario is ARROGATE and NOBLE BIRD dueling themselves into submission, enabling ‘CHROME to stay behind while on the rail before tipping out and taking over late. Realistically, it seems CHROME will be able to draft behind the leaders while saving ground then turn up the pressure three-wide on the far turn before taking over.
ARROGATE (7-5) will have to be careful not to go too fast early under Mike Smith. Smith can occasionally overestimate his mounts’ ability, and considering ARROGATE missed a scheduled prep for Bob Baffert in the San Pasqual due to an off-track, it’s possible (however minute that chance might be) ARROGATE won’t be at his best on Saturday. ARROGATE beat CALIFORNIA CHROME in the Classic when he chased ‘CHROME’s early tempo, now we’ll see if he can win when the roles are reversed. Even if he loses, he should fare no worse than second here based on pure ability.
#3 NEOLITHIC (30-1) is an up-and-coming Todd Pletcher trainee that will have John Velazquez aboard. NEOLITHIC is 2-for-2 over the Gulfstream oval, including an odds-on romp in an allowance event last time out. He’s getting faster with every start and is climbing into territory that would empower him to hit the board here. He should sit a fair trip from fourth before moving into third late.
#7 SHAMAN GHOST (20-1) and #10 BREAKING LUCKY (25-1) are far too slow on paper to challenge the top two. However, they’ve been building up Grade I credentials. They should be running on late from midpack under Jose Ortiz and Luis Contreras, respectively.
#9 KEEN ICE (12-1), another Pletcher entrant, lures Javier Castellano but his 2-for-19 record is of great concern here. He’s also 0-for-3 at Gulfstream. His only opportunity to win would seem to be a complete pace meltdown. Assuming that doesn’t happen, a peak performance could still net him third.
The play: $1 superfecta 12/1/3,7,9,10/3,7,9,10, $1 superfecta 12/1/3/7,9,10 ($15)
DFJ analysis: See my Pegasus undercard article.
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