In its brief history, the Pegasus World Cup has developed quite a reputation for showdowns. In 2017, it was Arrogate and California Chrome. Last year, Gun Runner vs. West Coast filled the marquee. Saturday we get Breeders’ Cup divisional winners ACCELERATE and CITY OF LIGHT. You don’t necessarily have to separate them, thanks to exotic wagering, but it won’t hurt your potential payoff to try.
These are the four runners I’ll be focused on in the $9 million finale:
- SEEKING THE SOUL: Longshot outran his odds when fifth in this race last year and he dances all the big dances. He showed in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile when second to CITY OF LIGHT that he is faster than his running style suggests. That could help him over a Gulfstream track that probably will play fast on Pegasus World Cup Day.
- ACCELERATE: The Breeders’ Cup Classic may have been the best chance to beat him. From an outside draw that day and with trainer John Sadler’s historical struggles in the BC, ACCELERATE seemed a vulnerable favorite off a so-so final prep. But now we know he can win on the road, and that Sadler with the right horse can be just fine outside of his California base, too. He will face some new challengers this time, but there’s no reason to think his career finale will stray too far from his record of 6 wins and 2 seconds in his last 8 starts.
- CITY OF LIGHT: We know this one travels well and matches up well, winning the G2 Oaklawn Handicap over ACCELERATE and the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Churchill Downs over SEEKING THE SOUL. Gulfstream Park-based jockey Javier Castellano and an inner-post draw in the 3-hole both will benefit his chances with a short run into the clubhouse turn. He should easily clear BRAVAZO and SOMETHING AWESOME to his inside. CITY OF LIGHT had a 3-pound advantage on ACCELERATE in the Oaklawn Handicap, but will carry equal weight of 124 pounds in the Pegasus World Cup.
- GUNNEVERA: Ever-steady, the late runner did us well a year ago by rallying for third in this race at 13-1. His summer-fall included runner-up bids in the Woodward and Breeders’ Cup Classic to horses in the spotlight today – Pegasus World Cup Turf contender Yoshida and World Cup favorite ACCELERATE. You’ll notice GUNNEVERA is a bit more tactical than most think; in his races at Gulfstream, he has stayed several lengths closer to the pace than he has at other tracks. Let’s see where Irad Ortiz, Jr. puts him down the backstretch.
Betting-wise, I’m hoping for a split. Trifectas using the favorites in the top two spots won’t pay boxcars, so the best chance for a bigger return will be to work the pricier horses in-between ACCELERATE and CITY OF LIGHT. I’m looking forward to a busy day Saturday with the NBC Sports telecast and second of two days in the Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship. I was fortunate enough to win the contest last year when GUNNEVERA and SEEKING THE SOUL were my longshot hopes to get in the trifecta behind favorites Gun Runner and West Coast. Let’s see if lightning can strike twice. Good luck!