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Pegasus World Cup Picks and StableDuel Contest

Pegasus World Cup Picks and StableDuel Contest

Pegasus World Cup Picks and StableDuel Contest

On Saturday, January 29, Gulfstream Park will feature seven graded stakes races including a pair of Grade I races. the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational, and the Pegasus World Cup. Aside from playing your normal horse wagers, play along at StableDuel where they are hosting a $40,000 contest with only a $50 entry fee. Get in the action and have some fun! How? Download the StableDuel app and then pick 10 horses with your $50,000 fantasy budget. If your stable comes out on top, you’re a winner! In addition to picking the winners for each race, I’ll also include the “price” in the StableDuel contest.

Pegasus World Cup – Analysis and Picks

How to Play StableDuel

StableDuel is a fantasy horse racing contest. You create a stable of ten horses from those running on a particular card. Each horse costs a fixed price based upon their morning line odds. You are given an allocation of $50,000 StableDuel dollars to purchase the 10 horses. Favorites are worth considerably more as horses with 2-1 odds cost $9,000 whereas horses with 10-1 odds only cost $1,000. Therefore, you must balance selecting favorites with long shots that you believe will outrun their odds.

Once racing starts you are awarded points based upon the performance of your horses. The winner is awarded 60 points going, 40 points going to second place. Third place receives 30 points, while fourth place gets 20 points. Fifth place gets 10 points. Yes, there are negative points awarded for horses that finish at the back of the pack. The key is finding horses that provide good value. While you may not afford to be able to pick the winner every race, being able to identify a horse that is morning line 10-1 who finishes third and gets you 30 points is a huge advantage.

Is StableDuel winner-take-all?

No. In Saturday’s $40,000 Pegasus Contest, the winner will receive $15,000 but the top 50 typically double their entry cost so the winnings are spread out in a way that around a third of the entries win.

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Pegasus World Cup Picks and StableDuel Contest

Race 1
Post time: 11:30 AM ET
Distance: 1 1/8 miles
Type: $50,000 Handicap
Age: 3-years-old
Surface: Synthetic

Overview

Everyone complains about the tapeta synthetic surface at Gulfstream. But, if you’re playing it for the first time, be wary of frontrunners. Also, you can typically look to horses that sit in positions three through five and make one big run late. The surface isn’t as kind to speed or deep closers, which in this race means that frontrunners Lamplighter Jack (15-1) and Strike Appeal (30-1) do not stand much of a chance. Town Classic (4-1) feels like a bad bet as he’s stretching out significantly on a surface where you typically want to have more endurance. Light Fury (5-1) provides good value if he can break well from the inside post. His jockey, Junior Alvarado, has had a nice meet at Gulfstream as well.

However, nobody is running as well at Gulfstream as Luis Saez. He regularly picks up the early Daily Double or Pick 3. He’s running Yamato (7-2) who really perked up on the synthetic last time out after being almost exclusively a turf horse. He has tremendous late speed given some of his crisp workouts recently, he should be in a prime position to move when called upon. Strike the Top (6-1) and Diligent (8-1) are both stepping up in class. But, I have more confidence in the latter to fire effectively this time out as he’s shown versatility in winning his last two races in different styles.

Win: Yamato (SD cost $7,500)
Place: Diligent (SD cost $3,000)
Show: Light Fury (SD cost $6,000)

Race 2
Post time: 11:59 AM ET
Distance: 1 1/16 miles
Type: $60,000 Maiden Special Weight
Age: 3-years-old
Surface: Dirt

Overview

Beyond Best (7-2) has the best early speed in the field, by far. He’s trained by Todd Pletcher, who is winning a whopping 43% of his races at Gulfstream Park this meet, and Luis Saez is aboard for the ride. Those two are winning 32% of the time they team up in South Florida. Beyond Best is also getting blinkers and should be able to rest easy on the least as there are few others who can challenge him early. Montauk Point (9-2) is coming off a long layoff and his trainer, Shug McGaughey, typically lets his horses run into shape. I wouldn’t expect a sharp performance the first time out. Pletcher’s other monster in this race is Complete Agenda (3-1) who is being ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr.

Unlike Beyond Best, Complete Agenda is going to hang back early and charge late. Interestingly, he’s been running in some inexpensive maiden special weights to this point. He was clearly set up to Tampa in December to break his maiden but didn’t get it done. Happy Boy Rocket (4-1), the Bill Mott horse, is also getting blinkers and if he can get more involved early then he can use some closing speed to make a run at the leaders. Mad Mocha (15-1) is an intriguing long shot play. He’s not done great at Woodbine but the switch to dirt might help and this is a slight step down in class. He’s also worked out well leading up to the race. That said, it’s hard to look past the two Pletcher entries.

Win: Beyond Best (SD cost $7,500)
Place: Happy Boy Rocket (SD cost $7,000)
Show: Complete Agenda (SD cost $8,000)

Race 3
Post time: 12:58 PM ET
Distance: 1 1/16 miles
Type: $61,000 Optional Claiming
Age: 4-years-old and up (fillies)
Surface: Turf

Overview

This is the first of many turf speed duels on the card. It should open things up for some closers and value to hit the board. Gladys (6-1) and Champagne Lady (5-1) should be on the lead and the two of them could take each other out of contention for the win if they apply too much pressure to each other. That said, Gladys ran against significantly better competition last time out and should get some class relief in this spot. I’d hold off on getting too excited for Star Seeking (9-2) who is making her North American debut. Typically, those horses need one or two races under their belt prior to showing their best form.

The horse I really like as a long shot is Passion Plus (15-1) who is a 7-year-old. She has been around the block but has success at Gulfstream and the distance while turning in a solid performance last time out in a stakes race. If Traffic Song (4-1) can avoid getting lost of the shuffle from the inside post then she’s got a great turf jockey in Jose Ortiz guiding her around the track. Her recent workouts look amazing, and she should show her best form in this spot.

Win: Traffic Song (SD cost $7,000)
Place: Passion Plus (SD cost $500)
Show: Gladys (SD cost $6,500)

Race 4
Post time: 12:57 PM ET
Distance: 7 furlongs
Type: $60,000 Maiden Special Weight
Age: 3-years-old
Surface: Dirt

Overview

Final race before the stakes races provides some nice StableDuel value. No horse goes off at the morning line lower than 4-1. While he’s coming off a layoff, it is hard for me to look past Bourbon Heist (6-1). He has run in some huge races already despite not breaking his maiden. He finished 4th at the Grade III Iroquois by just a little over a length. He’s also collected three second-place finishes in five career starts. He’s dropping down in class to a less expensive MSW and is getting Lasix for the first time. Todd Pletcher’s two expensive first-timers, Swing Shift (4-1) and Congressman (5-1), are solid but not spectacular in workouts.

I’d lean toward Congressmen being the better of the two in this spot as he’s been crisper in workouts. Positive Review (9-2) is the best Saffie Joseph Jr. entrant in the race. He’s has been running strong workouts and is getting blinkers and Lasix. It’s hard to know who will run to the lead and whether a speed duel will break out. In these instances though, it’s easier to bet on a horse with a track record and Bourbon Heist fits the bill and gives you some value.

Win: Bourbon Heist (SD cost $5,000)
Place: Positive Review (SD cost $6,500)
Show: Congressmen (SD cost $6,000)

Race 5
Post time: 1:27 PM ET
Distance: 1 ½ miles
Type: La Prevoyante Stakes – Grade III
Age: 4-years-old and up (fillies)
Surface: Turf

Overview

Let’s kick off the slate of seven graded stakes races with a long-distance, which is typically pretty chalk. There are so few horses in the United States that run this distance on turf. Therefore, there will be a lack of early speed, which may mitigate the impact of deep closers. Always Shopping (7-5) is the favorite and while she likes to stalk, she may find herself on the lead. That could put her in a compromising or uncomfortable position. Honor Hop (8-1) and Onyx (30-1) will likely be near the lead. Neither is likely to pressure the pace and they’ll be content to stalk. Honor Hop is stretching out in distance for the first time. I’m skeptical of her ability to stick around late.

Beautiful Lover (7-2) should get an ideal trip sitting close to the lead but close enough that she won’t have much ground to make up coming for home. The one closer I’m intrigued by is Hungry Kitten (8-1). She is trained by Shug McGaughey whose horses routinely take a few races to round into form after a layoff. This will be her third race coming off a break. She could be in a solid position to make a run late. Onyx (30-1) offers intriguing potential value from a StableDuel perspective. She’ll only cost $50 but ran 4th behind the two favorites last time out, which is she does again would net around 20 points in the contest. That would be an outstanding return on investment if she were able to do it again.

Win: Beautiful Lover (SD cost $7,500)
Place: Always Shopping (SD cost $9,400)
Show: Hungry Kitten (SD cost $3,000)

Race 6
Post time: 1:57 PM ET
Distance: 1 mile and 70 yards
Type: $70,000 Handicap
Age: 4-years-old and up
Surface: Synthetic

Overview

Alright, one last race on the tapeta. As I mention later, Woodbine shippers are underperforming a bit at Gulfstream this winter but that often corresponds with a shift from running on the synthetic to running on turf. Here we see Frosted Over (3-1) continue to run on synthetic and shortening up in distance. He’s a Grade III winner and typically likes to stalk the early pace, which should be set by Hello Hot Rod (20-1) and Wolfie’s Dynaghost (10-1). The question this race comes down to is how much do you think the turf speed shown by the rest of the field will translate when they run on the tapeta?

I’m a little skeptical since very few of the trainers have had any success with similar transitions. Fighting Force (5-1) is a possibility as he’s had three strong showings on the synthetic at Gulfstream and provides nice value for a horse that’s had success at comparable level races. The Saffie Joseph Jr. runner Telephone Talker (4-1) ran an all-time best on the synthetic last time out for what was scheduled to be a turf race but was taken off the grass due to race. The fact his speed figures perked up so significantly (13 points over his previous effort) means that he may be a natural. Order and Law (12-1) may provide some nice value underneath as a horse that’s taking a step down in class and should be in the perfect stalking position to capitalize on the surface.

Win: Telephone Talker (SD cost $7,000)
Place: Frosted Over (SD cost $8,000)
Show: Order and Law (SD cost $750)

Race 7
Post time: 2:31 PM ET
Distance: 1 ½ miles
Type: W.L. McKnight Stakes – Grade III
Age: 4-years-old and up
Surface: Turf

Overview

The male equivalent of R5, we again see a top-heavy field of long-distance runners. However, this contest might have a hot pace up front with morning line favorite Abaan (2-1), King Cause (10-1), Oriental Tiger (20-1), and Temple (4-1) all on or near the lead. Abaan is a classy horse who has won three of his last four after switching to turf and has no problem going the distance as he won at two miles last time out. Temple is a super constistent horse who is always around the board and runs just as fast early as he does late so while he’s not a strong win candidate, he’s a useful horse from a StableDuel perspective.

The horse I’m fading is Glynn County who always seems to underwhelm. He’s coming off a break and should be fresh, but he’s routinely lost to Two Emmys in previous races and last week he ran a disappointing third in a non-graded stakes race at the Fair Grounds against weaker competition. Therefore, the horse I’m looking at for value is Bama Breeze (12-1) who is the best closer in the field and running behind a likely hot pace should have the race set up perfectly for him. He’s beaten Glynn County before, is coming off a 3-month layoff but has a trainer who wins 24% of races in those conditions and shouldn’t have many other closer to compete with down the stretch.

Win: Bama Breeze (SD cost $750)
Place: Abaan (SD cost $9,000)
Show: Temple (SD cost $7,000)

Race 8
Post time: 3:03 PM ET
Distance: 7 furlongs
Type: Inside Information Stakes – Grade II
Age: 4-years-old and up (filles)
Surface: Dirt

Overview

This is a fascinating race to handicap since all the entries have positives and negatives and you could talk yourself into liking (or disliking) nearly every horse. Morning line favorite Just One Time (3-1) is a recent addition to the Brad Cox stable after running at second and tertiary tracks in Pennsylvania. This is a big step up for a horse that likes to go for the lead and he’s never run against this level of competition, even if the competition isn’t overwhelming. Jakarta (7-2) was a horse that many people thought was cooked but then ran huge last time out in stakes race at Parx. I think there will be some regression to the mean in this race, but the pace sets up well for her as there should be a pressured lead between Just One Time and AG Indy (6-1).

Speaking of AG Indy, this is a turf horse stretching out on dirt. I trust her trainer, Todd Pletcher, quite a bit, but I just don’t see this horse competing down the stretch at the new distance and surface. The horse I like up top is Four Graces (5-1). Her 2020 campaign was fantastic, but she was detailed by injuries in 2021. She came back and ran a driving second earlier this month and the fact her trainer turned her around so quickly shows that she came out of the race in good shape. She’s also 4-6 winning at 7 furlongs so the distance and class combination feels like a good bet.

Underneath, I’d look at Dance D’Oro (6-1) as a horse that is cutting back in distance but has shown the ability to get to the lead by the 7-furlong mark. Additionally, she likes Gulfstream Park where she’s won four of her nine career efforts.

Win: Four Graces (SD cost $6,000)
Place: Jakarta (SD cost $7,500)
Show: Dance D’Oro (SD cost $5,000)

Race 9
Post time: 3:36 PM ET
Distance: 1 1/16 miles
Type: Pegasus Filly & Mare Stakes – Grade III
Age: 4-years-old and up (fillies)
Surface: Turf

Overview

Another race with another hot pace. Shifty She (6-1) is going to go to the lead and run because that’s just what she does. Unlike most frontrunners on turf though, she can dig in and hang tough down the stretch and I think she’ll hit the board, but this is a strong field running behind her headed off by morning line favorite Regal Glory (2-1) who should get the perfect trip sitting behind the pace of Shifty She, Lady Speightspeare (8-1), and In a Hurry (12-1). Regal Glory is practically getting class relief as well as she’s run Grade I races three of her last four times out. Lady Speightspeare is a horse I liked a lot up at Woodbine, but she’s a novice to the turf and Woodbine shippers have not lit things up at Gulfstream Park this winter.

Sweet Melania (5-1) is a nice horse who ran a career-best Beyer last time out while winning, which is not something she often does. She’s a consistent horse who rarely turns in a bad performance but drawing from the inside rail she’s either going to have to use a lot of speed to get on a hot pace or get shuffled back and when she does the latter, she is rarely a contender. The value play in this race is Summer in Saratoga (12-1) who was slated to run last week at Fair Grounds before scratching to run in this spot instead. She’s a solid horse who wins at the distance and has won at this level while racking up lots of wins in non-graded stakes races. The race should set up well with the strong pace and she’s a nice bet to hit the board.

Win: Regal Glory (SD cost $9,000)
Place: Summer in Saratoga (SD cost $750)
Show: Shifty She (SD cost $5,000)

Race 10
Post time: 4:12 PM ET
Distance: 1 mile
Type: Fred W. Hooper Stakes – Grade III
Age: 4-years-old and up
Surface: Dirt

Overview

While there are some races on the card where you can look past the favorite, this looks to be set up perfectly for Speaker’s Corner (2-1) who may be coming off a slight layoff, but the distance and class should overwhelm the field. He was out of his depths at the Grade I Pennsylvania Derby and lost to Miles D narrowly last time out, but no horse in this field is close to those. His trainer, Bill Mott, is winning 24% of races coming off this length layoff and his speed figures are the strongest in the field and the one-turn mile should suit him perfectly. Meanwhile, Fearless (5-2) is a very consistent horse who always finishes around the board and rarely turns in a bad performance.

The horse that presents an opportunity on StableDuel is Girolamo’s Attack (12-1) as he defeated Fearless two back and while he was disappointing last time out that was a two-turn route race over a mile. He’s undefeated at this distance as he’s won all three 1-mile contests and drawing the outside post should give him the opportunity to get placed where he’d like. Liam (5-1) will be on the lead and is racing for one the second time in 500 days. His workouts look great but this will be the first real test in a long time and I’m not willing to bank on him firing just yet.

Win: Speaker’s Corner (SD cost $9,000)
Place: Girolamo’s Attack (SD cost $750)
Show: Fearless (SD cost $8,500)

Race 11
Post time: 4:49 PM ET
Distance: 1 1/8 miles
Type: Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational – Grade I
Age: 4-years-old and up
Surface: Turf

Overview

Final turf race on the card should be a doozy. It may lack big names, it’s a solid group of horses that all provide a ton of value and opportunity. Colonel Liam (3-1) is the defending champion but has not run since June. I trust Todd Pletcher, as noted earlier, but I still worry about Colonel Liam firing effectively in this spot despite Pletcher winning an astonishing 43% of his races in Gulfstream Park this winter. Looking at the contour of the race, this should be another solid pace up front with Never Surprised (7-2), Channel Cat (12-1), Doswell (10-1), and Flavius (15-1) all running to the front early with Atone (20-1) settling into a tracking position. The problem for Doswell and Channel Cat is they won’t be able to slow the pace down as they did last time out so I’m skeptical of their ability to close the deal.

The horse I think it sets up perfectly is Sacred Life (6-1) who is trained by Chad Brown and jockeyed by Jose Ortiz. It’s about as good of a combination on turf as you can get. Additionally, Sacred Life has a stellar turn of foot and late race speed to capitalize on the pace up front. I’m not sold on Never Surprised who is taking a step up and can’t beat Public Sector who would probably be a 6-1 or 8-1 horse in this race. I’m not sure why we’re affording Never Surprised such status. Hit the Road (8-1) is a great horse, but the distance will do him in. Space Traveller (12-1), offers great value breaking from the inside. He’s getting blinkers and should be engaged throughout while sitting off the lead. If the rail doesn’t give him any trouble, I really like his odds to getting a piece.

Finally, Atone is a horse that always seems to outrun his odds. I think he does it again. As long as he doesn’t get sucked into the pace ahead of him.

Win: Sacred Life (SD cost $5,000)
Place: Space Traveller (SD cost $750)
Show: Atone (SD cost $500)

Race 12
Post time: 5:34 PM ET
Distance: 1 1/8 miles
Type: Pegasus World Cup – Grade I
Age: 4-years-old and up
Surface: Dirt

Overview

This is the showstopper. The analysis isn’t complicated. You have two horses in Knicks Go (6-5) and Life is Good (7-5) that love to run as fast as possible from the lead and pummel their competition into submission with astounding speed fractions. They represent the best North American dirt horses as one is the Breeders’ Cup Classic Champion, and the other is the Breeders’ Cup Mile Champion and they’re meeting in the middle at 1 1/8 miles. The only question is whether they run so fast and wear each other down that it opens the race up to someone else. I do not believe that will happen, but I do think Life Is Good will get the lead breaking from the outside of Knicks Go.

Both Irad Ortiz Jr. (Life Is Good) and Joel Rosario (Knicks Go) are aggressive, but I think Life Is Good just has better pure speed. Historically, if Knicks Go doesn’t get the lead, he isn’t effective. He’s also been shown to get worn down if he battles too long as he did in the Met Mile. By all accounts both horses look to be in phenomenal shape and my hope is that we see an Affirmed-Alydar homestretch battle between two wonderful creatures running so fast they may very well take to flight like the namesake of the race.

Now, Greek mythology aside, if you’re looking to beat these two or trying to figure out who to play underneath, I would look at Stiletto Boy (20-1) who should be close enough to the leaders that he doesn’t lose interest but far enough back that the pace won’t burn him out. I know a lot of people like Sir Winston (12-1). But, I mentioned the lack of success Woodbine shippers have had. If you take away those starts, he’s not shown great form on dirt lately.

Win: Life is Good (SD cost $9,600)
Place: Knicks Go (SD cost $9,800)
Show: Stilleto Boy (SD cost $500)

Get all of Matthew’s horse racing coverage by following him on Twitter at @failedtomenace.

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