Log In

Race of the Week: Meet the Pegasus World Cup Contenders

by Jeremy Plonk

January 25, 2023

Let’s meet the contenders for Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup, which goes as Race 13 and anchors the Gulfstream Park card. The $3 million feature has a capacity field of 12 with a pair of also-eligibles.

1-Proxy: After knocking on the door in all 8 previous stakes races, finally broke through in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap at Churchill on Thanksgiving weekend. The well-bred son of Tapit and Grade 1 winner Panty Raid travels over Gulfstream Park’s main track for the first time and should save ground from the rail draw.

2-Simplification: Winner of Gulfstream’s Fountain of Youth last February, his sophomore campaign saw him finish third in the Florida Derby and fourth in the Kentucky Derby. All 3 of his career wins are at home at Gulfstream, where he’s not missed the top-3 in 7 attempts. Inside draw a boost to his versatile running style.

3-Ridin With Biden: Longshot has yet to race above the Grade 3 level, but won the Greenwood Cup at Parx among 3 wins in his last 4 starts. Regular rider Paco Lopez jumped saddles to ride Simplification, leaving the mount open to Emisael Jaramillo.

4-White Abarrio: The 2022 Florida Derby winner looks to become the first horse to win Gulfstream Park’s two signature dirt races. The $40,000 purchase has earned more than $1 million and has amassed a 4-for-4 local record. Only he and stablemate Skippylongstocking own Gulfstream wins at the PWC distance of 1-1/8 miles.

5-Defunded: One of the expected early pace players, California-based Defunded exits the top 2 performances of his career, winning the Grade 1 Awesome Again and Grade 3 Native Diver at Santa Anita and Del Mar. Son of Florida Derby winner Dialed In picks up top jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. for 2-time Pegasus World Cup-winning trainer Bob Baffert.

6-Art Collector: Projects as one of the fastest contenders in terms of early pace, he’s drawn just outside another primary speed player in Defunded. The 2-time Charles Town Classic winner has won 10 of 20 starts and a field-high $2.3 million. Jockey Luis Saez departs to ride Get Her Number, leaving the mount to Junior Alvarado.

7-Skippylongstocking: Winner of the local prep, the Grade 3 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes, he exits what was arguably the best race of his career. Only he and stablemate White Abarrio own Gulfstream wins at the PWC distance of 1-1/8 miles. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. hops off to ride Defunded, while brother Jose Ortiz steps aboard last year’s Grade 3 West Virginia Derby winner.

8-Get Her Number: This will be the sprinter/miler’s first 1-1/8 miles dirt race since a fourth-place try in the April 2021 Grade 1 Arkansas Derby. Hard-luck runner-up in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby at Del Mar and Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct during the 2022 season. Good traveler takes his game on the road. Luis Saez opts to ride here after piloting Art Collector in 7 of that veteran’s last 8 races.

9-Last Samurai: Historic pairing of world-renowned jockey Frankie Dettori and Hall of Fame legendary trainer D. Wayne Lukas. The 2022 Oaklawn Handicap winner over this 1-1/8 miles trip will be making his first foray to Gulfstream Park. A current 6-race losing streak includes battles with Proxy and Art Collector.

10-Cyberknife: The 5-2 morning line favorite comes out of a tough beat in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile when second by a head. That race has produced 3 of the last 4 Pegasus World Cup winners, including 2 straight. His pace-versatile style for champion trainer Brad Cox keeps him in contention in most any scenario, important for a horse drawn in a difficult, wide post position. Sire Gun Runner won this race with Florent Geroux aboard, and they’ll look for a follow-up in what will be Cyberknife’s final career race before retiring to stud.

11-Stilleto Boy: Third-place finisher in the 2022 Pegasus World Cup behind superstars Life Is Good and Knicks Go, we’ll see if last year’s 26-1 surprise exotics appearance can be repeated. The $1.1 million earner is by Preakness winner Shackleford. Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith won this race in 2017 aboard Arrogate.

12-O’Connor: Chilean 6-year-old will try to become the oldest Pegasus World Cup winner. Fourth as the favorite in the local prep, the Grade 3 Harlan’s Holiday, O’Connor must overcome a tough post draw in the 12-hole. Javier Castellano gets the call for trainer Saffie Joseph Jr., who also starts White Abarrio and Skippylongstocking.

Art Collector

$100 Betting Strategy:
$50 Win: Defunded
$25 Exacta Box: Defunded and Cyberknife ($50)