Pegasus World Cup (Gulfstream Park) Predictions, Odds & Picks

If you're playing only to win, go with my top picks Code of Honor (9/2) and Coastal Defense (15/1)

Post Position and Odds – Pegasus World Cup

Check out our predictions and odds for the 2020 Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park!

PP Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
1 SLEEPY EYES TODD 8/1
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J Ortiz M Silva
2 COASTAL DEFENSE 15/1
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C Lanerie D Romans
3 INDEPENDENCE HALL 20/1
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F Prat M McCarthy
4 KNICKS GO 5/2
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J Rosario B Cox
5 JESUS’ TEAM 8/1
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I Ortiz Jr J D’Angelo
6 KISS TODAY GOODBYE 10/1
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M Smith J Kruljac
7 TAX 5/1
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L Saez D Gargan
8 HARPERS FIRST RIDE 10/1
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A Cruz C Gonzalez
9 LAST JUDGEMENT 20/1
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P Lopez M Maker
10 CODE OF HONOR 9/2
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T Gaffalione C McGaughey
11 MR FREEZE 15/1
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J Velazquez D Romans
12 MATH WIZARD 20/1
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E Zayas S Joseph Jr

Best Bets for the Pegasus World Cup

Here are my plays ($50 in total)

$20 Win – Code of Honor = $20

$20 Win – Coastal Defense = $20

$5 Exacta box – Code of Honor and Coastal Defense = $10

Top Picks:

Code of Honor (9/2)

Coastal Defense (15/1)

Multiple Grade 1 winners Knicks Go and Code of Honor are the headliners for the big money available to a full field set for Saturday’s fifth running of the $3 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park.

Knicks Go will be the favorite and has never been better as evidenced by his convincing score in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile to close out 2020. The important victory was the gray’s third straight front-running romp since being sent to trainer Brad Cox last year. He’ll look to carry his speed for as far as it will take him as he stretches out to 9 furlongs for the first time in his career.

Code of Honor, a two-time Grade 1 winner as a 3-year-old in 2019, should be the second choice in the field of twelve. The son of Noble Mission comes into the Pegasus off a solid rallying second in the Grade 1 Clark at Churchill Downs in late November. Tyler Gaffalione will ride the five-time graded stakes winner for the first time on Saturday.

Of the rest, Tax looks to be the third choice off an impressive 4 1/2-length romp in the Grade 3 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes last month Gulfstream. It was the third graded stakes victory for the gelded son of Arch, who was coming into that race off a seven-month layoff.

How to Watch the Pegasus World Cup

Pegasus World Cup Information
What Pegasus World Cup (Grade 1)
Where Gulfstream Park
When Saturday, January 23 — 5:44 PM Eastern time
How to Watch NBC Sports and TVG
Purse $3,000,000

Race Analysis

Knicks Go

After some very good results as a juvenile, Knicks Go was a disappointment during his sophomore season. That was all turned around last year under the training of Brad Cox. He only ran three times, but they were all big, culminating with a track record in winning the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Similar performance to the one he turned in 11 weeks ago, and he has a great shot to add another big victory to his winning streak. At the odds, though — I expect him to be a heavy favorite — I believe it is worth taking a shot to beat him. He’s never been the distance before, and although he is the speed of this race, there are a handful of others who could pressure him before he hits the stretch. If there’s enough pressure, I believe the late runners have a big chance to upset him.

Code of Honor

Of the late runners, certainly, this is the one who makes the most sense. He failed to breakthrough in a big way last year, after an excellent 3-year-old season, but his last two efforts give strong hope that he is ready to return to the winner’s circle in a big race. He returns to a track that he seems to like, and at a distance that seems to suit him better than the favorite. A lot will depend on how much Knicks Go is pressured early, but this Shug McGaughey is as classy a runner as there is in the race. The pace should be solid, and he looks to be coming to the race in a good way. All signs point to a strong effort in here, which likely has him involved in the top spots.

Tax

This good looking gelding from the barn of Danny Gargan may have run his best race yet when romping home in the recent Harlan’s Holiday over the track. Off that performance, which followed a sizable layoff, he has to be considered in here. Two factors make me worry, though. First, he was able to control the pace, which is not gonna happen on Saturday. Secondly, this race is a serious step up in class from the bunch he handled last month. I believe he is best when he can be on or near the lead the whole way. With Knicks Go being the speed, I am going to lay off Tax in this one.

Sleepy Eyes Todd

This one had one of the more interesting seasons in the nation last year, winning all over the place, and doing it at different distances. He has enough speed to stay in touch early, and he has proven to be tenacious down the stretch when he gets to the lead. But coming off a pair of sprint wins, the problem may be having to work too hard too early to get where he needs to be at the head of the stretch. He is a very admirable horse, I don’t trust that he can beat the best going two turns yet.

Jesus’ Team

A reformed claimer, this one has banked plenty of cash while settling for the minor share of several big races. Notably third in the Preakness and second in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, he’s been finishing his races well enough to get a piece every time. On the other hand, he has not come close to the winner in any of his three grade 1 attempts, and I am not confident that he will on Saturday either. This is probably the deepest field yet, and despite a fondness for the track, I do like others better in the Pegasus.

Kiss Today Goodbye

Perhaps the biggest wildcard in the field, he ran a very good race last time to pull off a 15-1 upset in the Grade 2 San Antonio. In fact, his last three races in the dirt are all quite good for this consistent late runner. There will be a lot of firsts for him on Saturday, though. He’s never faced quite this type of field before, and he’s never run anywhere but Southern California before. If he takes to the trip and the track, he has a real shot to fire once again in the late stages. He’s a danger, but I am going to make him beat me in this spot.

Harpers First Ride

The hottest horse in the race other than Knicks Go, he has really come to hand lately in Maryland, with four stakes wins in his last five starts. Those performances are good enough to give hope that he can compete well in a race like this, but I am dubious that he can leave his home state and make this kind of jump up in class. He’s failed elsewhere before, and while he is clearly better than ever, I suspect that he will find this $3 million race a little bit more than he’s accustomed to.

Mr Freeze

While I do like the rider change to John Velazquez, I am not crazy about the outside post draw of 11. From there, he will either need to use a lot of early speed to clear much of the field, or get hung out to dry and shuffled back. If he does get the aggressive ride, that likely means working hard to chase Knicks Go. Having said that, he does have some class, and last year’s races at Gulfstream Park were among his best, including a second in the 2020 Pegasus. Not out of it, but I am looking elsewhere.

Coastal Defense

This one is my top longshot. Though he has yet to win a stakes race, I believe he still has plenty of upsides. Bred well and bred to run all day, he did not make it to the races until his 4-year-old season, so he’s been running less than one calendar year. After starting his career pretty slowly, he improved throughout the season enough to run in some tough graded stakes races to close the year. While he did not win either the Fayette or the Clark, he showed enough, with just a little bit of trouble in each, to believe he is on the verge of a breakthrough. The odds will certainly be right on the Dale Romans runner, who should be able to rally nicely into a solid pace.

Independence Hall

Once a juvenile hotshot, this son of Constitution has not found any stakes success since leaving the comfy confines of Aqueduct a year ago. Perhaps we have not seen the very best out of him, but it’s hard to be encouraged off his dull fifth-place result in the Grade 1 Malibu last time. He is another who has the early speed which could push Knicks Go early, but considering him for a major award seems hopeful thinking.

Math Wizard

One of only three Grade 1 winners in the field, his big win came 16 months ago as a big longshot in the Pennsylvania Derby. He hasn’t won since, and he hasn’t really come all that close. He would need a huge improvement off recent form, which includes a fourth-place finish behind Tax last time, to make serious noise on Saturday. He might pass tired horses, but overall, he is hard to recommend.

Last Judgement

Trainer Mike Maker has been known to do wonderful things with already experienced horses, but this race looks to be a stretch for a horse who has not been close in previous graded stakes racing. Coming off a good win just seven days ago, he looks like another who could press the early pace at best on Saturday.

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Brian Zipse

Expert on Horse Racing

Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.

Email: [email protected]