Hallandale Beach, FL, January 22, 2021 — There’s plenty of action in the racing world this weekend to please the most inveterate bettor: There’s an all-graded-stakes Rainbow Six at Gulfstream Park, today’s opening of Oaklawn Park, and Pool 2 of the Kentucky Derby futures pool should that float your betting boat.
The folks in Hallandale Beach are not letting any of grass grow beneath their automated machines, offering wagering on the entire Pegasus card, 12 races in all, starting today. We’ll take a look at both Pegasus events presently and will update with the remainder of graded races by 9 AM Saturday.
$1-Million Pegasus Invitational Turf, 1-3/16th miles
We love the trip for this event as it ensures a stretch-long run into the first turn, such that the dozen runners can sort themselves out just before making a bend bringing them perilously close to Dade County line.
To say Pegasus V is competitive is to understate the case, but before delving into the contenders, this question: Who does Todd Pletcher think he is, Chad Brown?
Of course, Pletcher need not to play second fiddle to any of his peers, but it’s usually Brown who surrounds Grade 1 turf events with multiple entrants but not so today. Brown has nary a starter; Pletcher has three and two of them, Colonel Liam and Largent, are the top choices on the early line.
While worthy of that distinction, no single horse has a lock on this race. The favorites are coming off excellent efforts on this course and have continued to train very well subsequently. The difference is that this assignment is a lot more difficult; tougher competition and added ground, too.
While the pace dynamics on turf is unpredictable, especially rounding two turns, the tempo doesn’t rate to be especially quick but should be somewhat contested given the presence of several positional types partnered with aggressive riders. We’re taking some value and the best late kick on paper.
Say the Word (6-1), showed improvement last time out in his first start for Phil D’Amato. He came from 10th of 12 going 1-1/2 miles at Del Mar to finish third, beaten one length in 2:26.20, coming his last quarter mile–if you can believe generally unreliable turf splits–in a shade under 23 seconds.
Whatever the Pegasus pace, it rates to be faster than a 12-furlong tempo. Flavien Prat rode him for the first time in the Hollywood Turf Cup and familiarity doesn’t always breed contempt. In this sport, quite the opposite.
We’re taking Say the Word to win at his early odds or thereabouts, key-boxing exactas with the two Todd’s above plus Anothertwistafate (5-1). Further, we’re adding Aquaphobia (20-1) and Cross Border (15-1) to a super-exotics mix and likely will use ‘Word’ to get alive in the late double.
$3-Million Pegasus World Cup Invitational, 1-1/8 miles
Either you believe that Knicks Go (5-2) is as good away from Keeneland as he is in Lexington. Either you think that his last two races, especially the BC Dirt Mile, are emblematic of the newly minted four year old’s form, or you don’t. Is he a product of a trainer who routinely moves horses up, or is he the real deal?
My answer? An unequivocal definite-maybe. That’s why it’s called gambling. Truly, does anybody really know anything in this game?
Actually,. there is another question: Never having done so, can he get all nine furlongs of today’s event? I think I have an answer here: A: Speed is always dangerous. B: This is Gulfstream, isn’t it?
There is no question that any winner not named Knicks Go has him, above all others, to beat. Here are some logical suspects to consider:
Is Code of Honor (9-2) capable of delivering on the promise he showed as a three-year-old? He ran well at four, but with the exception of his warm-up act in the Westchester, he failed the rest of the season: I just can’t forgive last year’s Whitney after he killed it in the 2019 Travers.
Code of Honor’s working bullets at Payson Park, not a common occurrence. Shug has been en fuego for a year now and the horse’s late-run style suits what promises to be a lively pace, whether someone entertains the favorite or not. Maybe first-time Tyler is the wake-up call Code of Honor needs.
Tax (5-1) does appear to be a logical upsetter. His connections promised that he was better and stronger at 5, and they told the truth given his comprehensive score in his Harlan’s Holiday prep for this.
Yes, he controlled a moderate tempo over lesser, but showed another gear through the lane for the first time ever. He moved forward, but not so dramatically as to be a precursor to a bounce. Nine furlongs always has been his best go. He needs only to take care that his stalking style won’t fizzle chasing Knicks Go’s sizzle.
We will bet Tax straight at near early line odds and make a three-horse exacta box with ‘Knicks’ and ‘Code’. And we’re adding Jesus’ Team (8-1) and Harpers First Ride (10-1) to the super-exotics mix.
Finally, we have no idea what the hell to do with Last Judgment (20-1). He ran out of his skin to beat Florida-breds only last Saturday, a figure that has bounce written all over it. The problem is that it’s Mike Maker, who is an otherworldly 32% with runners returning on less than 11 days rest.
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G3 MARSHUA’S RIVER — Race 7
MOST LOGICAL: Sweet Bye and Bye (4-1)
MOST VALUABLE: Belle Laura (12-1) to win at 10-1 or greater
EXOTICA: Exacta Box 1.3.10. Trifecta wheel 1.3.10 // 1.3.10 // 126.96.36.199.10
G3 LA PROVOYANTE — Race 8
MOST LOGICAL: Always Shopping (3-1)
MOST VALUABLE: Delta’s Kingdom (8-1) to win at 5-1 or greater
EXOTICA: Exacta Box 1.7.8. Exacta Box 1.8.11. Trifecta Wheel 1.8 // 188.8.131.52.11 // 184.108.40.206.11
G2 INSIDE INFORMATION — Race 9
MOST LOGICAL: Thisismytime (7-2)
MOST VALUABLE: Cinnabunny (3-1) to win, no price restrictions
EXOTICA: Exacta Box 2.4.7. Exacta Key-Box 2 with 4.5.7. Trifecta Box 2.4.7
G3 McKNIGHT — Race 10
MOST LOGICAL: Sadler’s Joy (3-1)
MOST VALUABLE: Tide of the Sea (10-1) to win at 6-1 or greater
EXOTICA: Exacta Box: 5.7.11. Trifecta Wheel: 5.7 // 5.7.11 // 220.127.116.11.7.11
Wager Proportionally: As always, plays are made at suggested minimums; the rest is on you: $2 Win, $1 Exacta, 50-Cent TRI, 10-Cent SUPER