Pegasus Picks

KNICKS GO will be the Post Time favorite in the $3 million dollar Pegasus on Saturday. This based on his front-running 3 1/2-length Win in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

This field of 12 contains only two other horses with Grade 1 Victories — CODE OF HONOR and MATH WIZARD.

Here then is a look at the entrants for the Pegasus with the official track Morning Line odds. It is listed as the final race on a card of 12 with a scheduled Post Time of 5:45. 

1) SLEEPY EYES TODD [ML 8-1] Trainer: Miguel Angel Silva. Jockey: Jose Ortiz. With four Wins in his last six starts, including the Mr. Prospector (G3) at Gulfstream and the Charles Town Classic (G2), this 5-year-old is in the best form of his career. He has the feel of a horse that is going to get more than his share of action at the betting windows. Between victories, he ran a distant 5th in the Awesome Again (G1) at Santa Anita back in September. 

2) COASTAL DEFENSE [ML 15-1] Trainer: Dale Romans. Jockey: Corey Lanerie. Class (or lack there of) is a significant issue for this 5-year-old who did not begin his career until 11 months ago. He needed four attempts to break his Maiden and eventually became an Allowance Winner at Churchill Downs in September. Even with two 4th-place finishes in a Graded Stakes races, he seems over-matched here.

3) INDEPENDANCE HALL [ML 20-1] Trainer: Michael McCarthy. Jockey: Flavien Prat. He became a Grade 3 Winner in his second career start as a 2-year-old. On the 2020 Kentucky Derby trail, he began with a Win in the Jerome but could not keep up when the fields got tougher in Florida. In California, he Won an Allowance race but then could not contend with a step-up in class in the Malibu (G1). 

4) KNICKS GO [ML 5-2] Trainer: Brad Cox. Jockey: Joel Rosario. The likely Post Time favorite has Won three in a row, and will look to become the fourth Winner of a Breeders’ Cup race to make his next start a Victory in the Pegasus. He has a significant pace advantage with his early speed, as no other horse seems likely to challenge him in the first quarter mile. With class and pace advantages, KNICKS GO is the one to beat. 

5) JESUS’ TEAM [ML 8-1] Trainer: Jose Francisco D’Angelo. Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr. This guy hit the board in three Grade 1 and 2 races last year with a string of noteworthy performances in the Haskell, Jim Dandy, Preakness and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. He finally got a Stakes Win in the restricted Claiming Crown Jewel at Gulfstream last month. Bettors must decide whether that Win and a preference for Gulfstream make him a Win contender. At the very least a must-use horse in the exotics. 

6) KISS TODAY GOODBYE [ML 10-1] Trainer: J. Eric Kruljac. Jockey: Mike Smith. Before his Victory in the San Antonio (G2) at Santa Anita on December 26th, this 4-year-old had not Won above the Allowance level. His late-running score over a field that included last year’s Pegasus Winner opened some eyes. With two Wins in a row he becomes a horse that should come with good odds and might be worth using in your wagers. 

7) TAX [ML 5-1] Trainer: Danny Gargan. Jockey: Luis Saez. He returned from a seven-month layoff to Win the Harlans Holiday (G3) at Gulfstream Park at odds of 2-1 by more than four lengths. He easily handled the field of seven in the local prep race for the Pegasus. TAX had big Wins in his career in races such as the Jim Dandy (G2) and the Withers (G3) but has yet to put two Victories together back-to-back. His best effort makes him dangerous.

8) HARPERS FIRST RIDE [ML 10-1] Trainer: Claudio Gonzalez. Jockey: Angel Cruz. The Winner of four of his five most recent starts and 10 out of 17 in his career faces a serious class challenge. Most of his Victories came at his home track of Laurel Park. His most significant Win was in the Pimlico Special (G3) on the Preakness undercard in October. He is an unlikely Win candidate but certainly worth using underneath. 

9) LAST JUDGMENT [ML 20-1] Trainer: Mike Maker. Jockey: Paco Lopez. The final addition to the Pegasus field Won the Sunshine Classic Stakes at Gulfstream Park last Saturday, while on the front end and comes right back a week later for his connections. Prior to that race, he was 8th in the Mr. Prospector (G3), at Gulfstream

10) CODE OF HONOR [ML 9-2] Trainer: Shug McGaughey. Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione. He is one of three Grade 1 Winners in the Pegasus field. His past performances show only two races that were not Graded Stakes. Race in and race out, this 5-year-old has run against better competition than any other horse in the field. If you believe that class is a significant handicapping factor then CODE OF HONOR must be taken seriously.  

11) MR FREEZE [ML 15-1] Trainer: Dale Romans. Jockey: John Velazquez. It is hard to know what to expect from this 6-year-old. At his best, he is the Winner of four Graded Stakes, including the Fayette (G2) at Keeneland in October and the Gulfstream Park Mile (G2) last February. However, when he faces Grade 1 competition, he often disappoints. To his credit he did finish 2nd in last year’s Pegasus after setting the pace. 

12) MATH WIZARD [ML 20-1] Trainer: Saffie Joseph Jr. Jockey: Edgardo Zayas. He is the Winner of the Pennsylvania Derby (G1), but that was back in September 2019 when he was a 3-year-old. In seven outings since, he has come close to finding the Winner’s circle only once. He is based at Gulfstream, where his other two Wins of his career took place.

Summary: The final analysis of the 2021 Pegasus World Cup is focused on class, and clearly KNICKS GO and CODE OF HONOR have an advantage in that regard.

It should come as no surprise that the Daily Racing Blog will try to beat the likely favorite KNICKS GO. Missing from his past performances are any starts at Gulfstream Park and more significantly he has never raced the nine-furlong distance.

CODE OF HONOR has faced the toughest competition throughout his career and that gives him an edge in this field. He is back at a track he likes and his ideal distance. He’ll need to get back to his best efforts of 2019, but Shug has been pointing to this race since he was 2nd in the Clark Stakes (G1) in November. CODE OF HONOR is the pick to Win.

The Play: DRB will play a Trifecta Key Box with #10 CODE OF HONOR on top of #4 KNICKS GO, #5 JESUS’ TEAM, #7 TAX, #8 HARPERS FIRST RIDE, and #11 MR FREEZE. We’ll also do an Exacta Key Box using the same horses.

Best of luck no matter how you play it.

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