2020 Pegasus World Cup Turf Preview and Saturday Gulfstream Selections

Saturday, Gulfstream Park features its flagship race day: Pegasus World Cup Day.  The race card features seven stakes races, including a pair of seven-figure Grade 1 races, showcasing many of the older horse divisions before the Derby trail takes center stage.

Here at Picks and Ponderings, I will preview the second running of the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) in detail, as well as provide selections and longshots for the entire Gulfstream card in a chart below the Pegasus World Cup preview.  If you are looking for more analysis, I also previewed both the Pegasus World Cup (G1) and the W. L. McKnight (G3) in detail; you can read my horse-by-horse analysis of both of those races at ThoroCap.

NBC Sports Network will televise the Pegasus World Cup and Pegasus World Cup Turf, in a broadcast scheduled to run from 4:30pm until 6:00pm Eastern.  In addition, these races (like all at Gulfstream) will stream for free on the racetrack’s website.

Selections for the Gulfstream Park Turf Sprint, Ladies’ Turf Sprint, South Beach, La Prevoyante, and W. L. McKnight are for turf only.

Saturday, January 25: Gulfstream Park

Race 11: Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1), four-year-olds and up, one and three sixteenths miles on turf, post time 4:49pm EST

The year could not have gone better for the first-ever winner of the Pegasus World Cup Turf: Bricks and Mortar.  Bricks and Mortar began his year with a victory in the Pegasus, and his perfect 6-for-6 season included victories in the Arlington Million (G1) and the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1).  Crowned both Champion Turf Male and Horse of the Year at Thursday night’s Eclipse Awards, Bricks and Mortar became the first horse since John Henry (1981, 1984) to win both the Arlington Million and Horse of the Year.

Newly crowned Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar wins the 2019 Pegasus World Cup Turf, his first career Grade 1 start.

There were some significant changes made to this year’s Pegasus World Cup Turf structure, for its second running.  The purse is down to $1 million instead of last year’s $7 million, though unlike previous Pegasus races that required a hefty fee to purchase a slot, invitees pay no fees to enter or run in the race.  This race, in addition to the Pegasus World Cup on dirt, also require entrants to run without race-day medication, including Lasix.  Even with the purse change and the medication rule, the race drew an overflow field: twelve main entrants, plus one also-eligible, Tropical Turf (G3) winner TUSK.

This race goes through MAGIC WAND.  The Aidan O’Brien trainee danced seemingly every dance last year; though she only went 1-for-12 on the year, she ran six times behind such luminaries as Iridessa, Magical, Win Bright, and Bricks and Mortar.  She ran second behind Bricks and Mortar in both the Pegasus World Cup Turf last year as well as the Arlington Million.  In her one other US visit, she ran third behind Channel Maker and ARKLOW in the mile and three eighths Man O’ War (G1).  Though all those underneath finishes are a concern for MAGIC WAND, her recent form suggests that either second-itis isn’t quite the order of the day, or she may be as good as ever.  Her one win in 2019 came in the Mackinnon Stakes (G1) at Flemington just two starts back, and since then she was only nosed out by Win Bright in the Hong Kong Cup (G1).  She has hit the board in nine of ten starts at either a mile and three sixteenths or a mile and a quarter, as well, making her better suited for this Pegasus trip than the stretch-out milers or the cut-back mile-and-a-half types.  All in all, MAGIC WAND looks tough to hold out.

MO FORZA faces older stakes horses for the first time, but this improving four-year-old may be up to the challenge.  He has the tactical speed to get a good trip, even from a near-outside gate.  Though he has not gone longer than a mile and an eighth yet, this son of Uncle Mo has stayed that trip well and runs like a horse worth trying at the extra half-furlong.  MO FORZA does ship out of California for the first time, but in recent times Peter Miller has been doing a lot of shipping out of California, and has a lot of success to show for it.

This is a Grade 1 turf race, of course, and it’s tough to talk about a top-level turf race nowadays without talking about Chad Brown.  He entered a trio in the Pegasus Turf.  The shortest-priced one, WITHOUT PAROLE, certainly has the class; he most recently finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, and he won the St. James’s Palace Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot in 2018.  He is a top-class miler — but can he get further?  His pedigree is wonderful for a flat mile, as he is a Frankel half to Tamarkuz, though he has been left flat-footed in his two starts going any longer.

Brown will have two others at longer prices.  SACRED LIFE, drawn second to the outside, should be a good fit for the distance but has class to find on the top echelon of this field.  More interesting is INSTILLED REGARD, a last-out winner over this course in the Fort Lauderdale (G2).  He finished well in that mile and an eighth race; between that and his good finish for fourth behind Justify in the 2018 Kentucky Derby (G1), there is every reason to think that this son of Arch will relish the extra half-furlong.  The local form is a positive, too; it was good to see him get a test run, and see him beat several who he will face again in this.  INSTILLED REGARD has the tactical versatility to work out a trip, he keeps top rider Irad Ortiz from his last two starts, and he looks most interesting of the Brown trio.


#12 MAGIC WAND (7/2)
#10 MO FORZA (5/1)

Longshot: Like INSTILLED REGARD, #5 CHANNEL CAT (10/1) comes out of the Fort Lauderdale, the de facto local prep for the Pegasus.  The mile and an eighth was a little too short for him, though he did well to rally for a game third between horses, beaten only three quarters of a length.  Perhaps as a function of the race being a bit short for him, he was coming from further off the pace than usual, knocked a bit off his style.  With the extra half-furlong, and likely without a situation like last time when Cross Border and Marzo really went early in the Fort Lauderdale, CHANNEL CAT may get his more preferred forward trip.  Finally, from a connections perspective?  CHANNEL CAT hails from the barn of Todd Pletcher, which has been humming along like a finely tuned machine this winter at Gulfstream.


Below are all of Nicolle Neulist’s picks for the stakes races on Pegasus World Cup day at Gulfstream Park. This will be updated as they finish handicapping the card. If you have questions about the logic behind any of these picks, please leave a comment or tweet us at @picksponderings!

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