by Johnny D
January 21, 2021
Last Saturday, we fumbled. Booted a grounder. Launched an air ball. Technical difficulties knocked us out. Down for the count. Offline for a few hours. Wasn’t the first time. Won’t be the last. It happens. And, according to the folks working in IT, that word ‘it’ usually begins with an additional two letters.
Ever have the power go out in your house? Me, too, once in a while. To flip a concept, where there once was light, now there is darkness. That occasionally happens to our other techie stuff, too. Twitter, Facebook, Apps, Internet all have down times. Other ADWs go AWOL at times, too. Thankfully, outages usually don’t last long. It’s still best for players to be prepared for when the lights do go out. Just like you have a flashlight and candles in your house make sure to have a backup ADW in your mobile.
Besides inconveniencing players, the outage also forced cancelation of two online Xpressbet tournaments—an important ‘Last Chance’ Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship event and Week 3 play in the popular Beat the Host competition.
Since there’s no such thing as ‘Another Last Chance’ and the Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship is this Saturday, Xpressbet suits decided to offer players the opportunity to win PWCBC seats in an unusual mid-week ‘Final Chance’ Thursday tournament. That event may be over by the time you read this. If so, congratulations to the winners and good luck to those competing Saturday in the main event. On the other hand, if you catch this before Thursday’s 3PM ET registration deadline, jump into the pool for $500 ($200 registration and $300 live money). The water’s warm…and deep.
Gotta give suits credit for respecting players and re-racking the cancelled tournament Thursday. Under the circumstances, it really is the best that could be done.
While we’re not in the habit of dishing out ‘attaboys’ to suits, they also deserve credit for another reasonable solution. Instead of pocketing prize money from last week’s cancelled Beat the Host competition, suits decreed that the bread be carried over into this week’s action. That means there will be a total of $4,000 available to top players--$2,000 to first; $1,500 to second and $500 to third. Again, the very best move in an unusual situation.
This week’s Beat the Host target is Jeff Siegel, one of the best handicappers in the nation and dean of Southern California prognosticators. He’s a Beat the Host veteran, too, around since the competition began. He and last week’s host Jon White used to split the entire season.
No doubt some Beat the Host players are wondering how they would have fared last Saturday against Jon White. Well, most would have done pretty well. White, who’s shown a profit with his Beat the Host picks almost every season, had the weakest performance in his approximately 15-year Beat the Host tenure. While host picks are submitted to Xpressbet each Friday, they aren’t ‘released’ to players until post time for each race. In Saturday’s action, White posted earnings of just $19.50, based on one winner—Closing Remarks in Race 6 at Santa Anita.
Oh, quit whining. We all know, you would have whipped White and qualified for the Beat the Host Championship. So would a bunch of other players. It’s not the end of the world. You’ve got 6 more chances to prove you’re better than at least one host.
Currently, 8 players remain alive for a $6,000 Sweep the Host Bonus: Steve Glynn, Steven Moses, Randy Murphey, Darlene Wolfson, Lou Kotzman, Scott Shore, Zackary Agamenoni and John Maskel.
In cumulative earnings, Steve Glynn leads with $213, chased by Andrew George and Andrew Ma ($175 each). Stephen Hausmann ($170.50) and Larry Cartwright ($170) are next. The top two cumulative seasonal earners will win seats to the 2022 Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship ($6,000 value each). The next three finishers will receive seats in the Ultimate Betting Challenge March 6, 2021 ($3,000 value each).
258 players have defeated hosts this season and are qualified for the Beat the Host Championship Round. A total of 7 rich tournament seats will be awarded to top BTH Championship finishers, including 1 seat in the 2022 Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship ($6,000 value) and 6 spots in either the Florida Derby (March 27, 2021) or Santa Anita Derby (April 3, 2021) tournaments ($1,500 value each).
Play in Xpressbet’s ‘Final Chance’ PWCBC tournament Thursday, January 21 if you can. Then, take advantage of this week’s Beat the Host carryover and try to win a share of $4,000 in weekly prizes, as well as an opportunity to Beat the Host and add to your cumulative seasonal earnings total.
As an intended aid in your quest to better the host, below is one man’s opinion of Saturday’s all-graded-stakes Pegasus World Cup Late Pick 4 at Gulfstream Park.
RACE 9 (3:40PM ET) // INSIDE INFORMATION STAKES // 7 FURLONGS (DIRT)
The Gr. 2 Inside Information is a 7-furlong sprint for fillies and mares. Three of the eight runners exit the Gr. 3 Sugar Swirl at 6 furlongs Dec. 12 at GP and two others return from the Gr. 3 Rampart going a one-turn mile at GP. That’s what’s so entertaining about 7-furlong races, they attract sprinters and milers at a distance that challenges participants in different ways.
Jockey Irad Ortiz is winning at a ridiculous 29% at Gulfstream and trainer Brad Cox checked in at 24% for 2020. Interestingly, the combo isn’t that hot. They bat just 8% together. This 4-year-old filly is making her second start for Cox after finishing third, less than a length behind the winner, and lapped on #3 Bronx Beauty as favorite in the Gr. 3 Sugar Swirl. Irad rode her that day for the first time and they had some issues late. Expect him to have learned a bit about this filly, who was a tigress at Parx when winning 4 of 6 races there for trainer Kathleen DeMasi. She may show more speed in here than she did in her last. All of her Parx wins were wire-to-wire.
#3 Bronx Beauty
This 6-year-old mare missed by a mere head in the Gr. 3 Sugar Swirl at 9-1. She’s won 10 of 25 starts but is winless at Gulfstream Park and at the distance in 5 starts. Hard-riding Luis Saez is aboard again, and the filly sits just off the early pace before launching her final bid. She’s earned over $600k and is in good form, so she deserves respect. However, there are a few angles going against her and those will give us pause.
This 4-year-old daughter of Carpe Diem is hot. She won a sloppy, 7-furlong, off-the-turf edition of the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Preview by over 11 lengths and then took a one-mile $62,500 optional claiming race in wire-to-wire fashion. She has won 3 of 6 starts at Gulfstream Park and will be ridden by the capable Edgard Zayas, who’s been aboard for all 4 of her lifetime wins. An old racetrack adage advises to beware of hot fillies and mares because they can hold their form for a while. This filly might be an example of that happening before our eyes.
#7 Sally’s Curlin
This 5-year-old mare has faced some of the nation’s stiffest 7-furlong competition. Last out she didn’t fire in Gulfstream’s Gr. 3 Rampart at one mile, but before that had faced top foes in 4 consecutive 7-furlong races at the Gr. 1 or Gr. 2 level: In March she won Gr. 3 Hurricane Bertie at Gulfstream. She returned in July to beat 3 foes in the Gr. 1 Madison at Keeneland. In September she closed well to be third in the Gr. 1 Derby City Distaff at Churchill. In November, she beat just one home in the Gr. 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare sprint. Her late-running style often works against her and there doesn’t seem to be an overabundance of speed in this race, however, she has been facing much better.
#8 Sound Machine
The 4-year-old filly exits the common Gr. 3 Sugar Swirl where she had a bit of trouble and finished fourth merely one-length from the winner. She has 2 wins and 2 seconds from 5 starts at Gulfstream and draws a nice, cozy outside box. Her close-up running style should work well from this draw as jockey Jose Ortiz will be able to ‘clock’ what’s happening inside before he makes his move with this filly. She’s not real big on winning—2 for 9—but she should get a perfect trip and is a strong exotics candidate.
RACE 10 (4:13PM ET) // W.L. MCKNIGHT STAKES // 1 1/2 MILES (TURF)
The Grade 3 W. L. McKnight at one mile and one-half on turf always is an interesting affair that attracts distance specialist runners that are a cut below the very best invited to the Pegasus Turf. A large field of 11 has entered and handicappers should note that this race begins on the backside and is decided around 3 turns. Outside post positions may be at a disadvantage unless those runners have a bit of early pace to clear foes before the quickly arriving first turn.
He’s a 6-year-old with just 8 career starts. That suggests issues. However, this gelding has made the most of the relatively few times he’s raced. He’s been first or second 7 times in 8 starts. Last out he finished a troubled second to Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational contender Largent in the Gr. 2 Fort Lauderdale. Doswell has some early pace and should be able to use it under jockey Junior Alvarado to maintain the rail position throughout. Can he get one mile and one-half against this level of foe? Maybe. He went wire-to-wire to win at a mile and one-quarter at Saratoga in October. Of course, that was against first-level allowance horses and these are mostly graded stakes winners…big difference. Doswell will need to use his speed, save ground and see how far that takes him.
He’s a pretty consistent performer that has a top jock and trainer on his side in here. Irad Ortiz, Jr. rides for Mike Maker and they’re an outstanding 25% together. Temple has been first, second or third in 15 out of 22 races but he really shines at Gulfstream Park. He’s 4 for 9 over this course, with 3 seconds and 2 thirds. That’s proof he loves this course. He has some distance questions to answer (although he’s never tried this trip) and he hasn’t proven himself at this class level yet, however, he’s got angles in his favor and should be a square price. Based on his record he’s at least an exotics ‘use’ and more.
#5 Sadler’s Joy
This 8-year-old is an old pro with over $2.5 million in the bank. He’s faced the best competition of anyone in here and fared pretty well with 7 wins, 4 seconds and 11 thirds in 34 lifetime starts. Father time may have caught up with him, however. He couldn’t manage a first or second place finish in 8 2020 starts. His very late-running style often puts him at a pace disadvantage with too much ground to make up late. He’s got the best resume of this bunch, but does he have a knockout punch left?
#7 Tide of the Sea
This 5-year-old has speed, 3 wins in 9 starts and races for some solid jockey/trainer connections (Gaffalione/Maker 23%). He also has a win at the distance, something only 3 other starters can claim. He may be lacking in the class department or at least his credentials there are light. His first graded stakes attempt came last out in the Gr. 2 Fort Lauderdale where he had some early trouble. Gaffalione returns to the saddle and he was successful with this horse one race back in an allowance at Keeneland.
#11 Channel Cat
This 6-year-old horse makes his second start for trainer Jack Sisterson after racing for Todd Pletcher and winning 5 of 22 and nearly $1 million. This horse hasn’t faced this grade 3 level of competition since May of 2019. He’s usually pitched against grade 1 or grade 2 foes, so this is a bit of class relief for him. Last out, in his first start since March, he closed some ground to be fifth behind #1 Doswell and just in front of #7 Tide of the Sea. That wasn’t a bad effort and could set him up to run well in here. However, this far outside post does him no favors. He was 0 for 3 in 2020 and is just 1 for his last 11.
RACE 11 (4:59PM ET) // PEGASUS WORLD CUP TURF // 1 3/16 MILES (TURF)
The Grade 1, $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational is a wide-open affair at one mile and three-sixteenths. This is a wide-open field with any number of contenders that have legitimate chances to win. New faces from California, Louisiana and New York add spice and intrigue to a clever mix of sharp local talent. Get the butter knife out for this one because you’re probably going to ‘spread.’
#3 Storm the Court J. Leparoux P. Eurton 12-1
A veteran of 8 consecutive graded stakes races against fellow 3-year-olds, the now 4-year-old Storm the Court has had big shoes to fill after winning an Eclipse Award as the nation’s top 2-year-old colt in 2019. Always competitive, the Gr. 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner hasn’t won a race since that wire-to-wire triumph in November 2019 but has been second twice and third twice. Overall, he’s had just 3 career turf races, with 2 seconds, most recently by three-quarters of a length in the Gr. 2 Mathis Brothers Mile last out at Santa Anita. In that one mile race this son of Court Vision assumed the early lead and was caught in the stretch. Expect similar tactics in this longer race over a layout that favors front runners.
#5 Colonial Liam I. Ortiz T. Pletcher 7-2
If you’re looking for a hot horse that could be rising up the turf rankings with a bullet, this could be your horse. A 4-year-old son of Liam’s Map, he won the Tropical Park Derby in his last start. That was his second win in 3 starts over Gulfstream turf, so you know he likes the course. What you don’t know is how he will handle racing against older horses for the first time. Certain Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher wins more races at Gulfstream than anyone else and has taken his time with this runner—3 wins in just 5 starts, all in 2020. The grey colt has never raced at this distance, but open-length scores at shorter trips suggest he can handle it.
#6 Largent P. Lopez T. Pletcher 9/2
If there’s a horse for course in this race, this could be the guy. The 5-year-old gelding enters off a sparkling tally in the Gr. 2 Fort Lauderdale at a mile and one-eighth over the Gulfstream Park turf course. That was his sixth win in 9 starts and his fourth in 5 trips over the GP turf course. The son of Into Mischief never has raced further than one mile and one-eighth but, if eventual Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher thinks the gelding can do it, who are we to argue? Largent has won races while close to the lead and from well off the pace, so he’s versatile and at this longer distance shouldn’t be too far from the early pace.
#8 Anothertwistafate J. Rosario P. Miller 5-1
This 5-year-old California invader decisively won the Gr. 2 San Gabriel Stakes last out at Santa Anita. It was only his second turf start among 10 career outings. He’s won 5 times overall and was on the 2019 Triple Crown trail with a string of 3 early wins and 2 seconds against fellow sophs. Things never panned out, culminating in a 10th place Preakness finish, and the horse was transferred to current trainer Peter Miller for his most recent pair of races, better efforts and both on turf. He’s got enough speed to be close early and, according to his eventual post-position draw, could take the early lead. Distance is a question but, in the past, horses have been known to find rejuvenated careers after making surface changes. That could be the case here.
#11 Say the Word F. Prat P. D’Amato 6-1
This 6-year-old gelding has been in good form since August when he won a Saratoga allowance race. Since then he’s finished third in the Gr. 3 Singspiel, won the Gr. 1 Northern Dancer (both at Woodbine) and been third in the Gr. 2 Hollywood Turf Cup at Del Mar, respectively. Those last two efforts came in one mile and one-half races, distances that perfectly suit his late-running style. An earner of nearly $500k, he should appreciate the one mile and three-sixteenths layout at Gulfstream Park. He is trained by Phil D’Amato and is based in Southern California at Santa Anita. SoCal turf master Flavien Prat is here to ride.
#12 Social Paranoia L. Saez T. Pletcher 8-1
This guy is extremely versatile. He’s won on turf at distances from seven and one-half furlongs to one mile and five-sixteenths. He’s got a pair of Gr. 3 victories in his holster and he was second, beaten less than one length, in the Gr. 1 Belmont Derby in July 2019. He’s trained by top Gulfstream gun Todd Pletcher and has won 3 of 5 turf starts at Gulfstream. The 5-year-old son of Street Boss has won 5 of 16 overall and earned nearly $1 million. He made just 5 starts in 2020, winning 3. He’s got enough early pace to be within striking distance when the real running starts. He is not favored by this outside post position that could see him lose valuable ground. Jockey Luis Saez probably has his hand forced by this post and will ask for a bit more run from his mount early to get position into the first turn.
RACE 12 (5:44PM ET) // PEGASUS WORLD CUP // 1 1/8 MILES (DIRT)
This is the one you’ve all been waiting for. The Grade 1 $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at one mile and one-eighth on the main track. In its short history, this race has featured some outstanding performers like Arrogate, California Chrome, Gun Runner, City of Light and Mucho Gusto. Most often, the race has attracted the nation’s best on their way to retirement. This year, things are different. There’s no Horse of the Year contender on his way to retirement in the field of 12. Instead we are faced with a more well-balanced group that will challenge horseplayers to create winning exotic wagers.
#1 Sleepy Eyes Todd J. Ortiz M. Silva 8-1
Connections hope this 5-year-old horse can parlay a pair of 7-furlong stakes victories into a $3 million Gr. 1 Pegasus score at one mile and one-eighth. In November, ‘Todd won the Lafayette at Keeneland and in December delivered a mile upset in the Gr. 3 Mr. Prospector at Gulfstream in his only try over the surface. In 3 previous tries at the Pegasus distance ‘Todd has a runner-up effort as a 3-year-old in the Gr. 3 Oklahoma Derby at Remington, a win in the Gr. 2 Charles Town Classic and a fifth in the Gr. 1 Awesome Again at Santa Anita. This will be the first time since 2019 that the grey runner will make back-to-back starts at the same track. In 2020 he made 8 starts, all at different tracks and with different riders each time. He won four of those. Overall, he’s won 8 of 15 starts and earned nearly $750k. Expect him to be near the early Pegasus pace.
#4 Knicks Go J. Rosario B. Cox 5-2
Winner of the Gr. 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile last out, this 5-year-old son of Paynter appears to finally have developed into the high-quality runner his connections assumed he was at 3 when he was consistently matched against Gr. 3 stakes foes. Currently, Knicks Go is riding a dominating winning streak--last 3 starts by over 20 lengths. And he performs well off layoffs, too, ones similar to what he’ll experience heading into Pegasus World Cup. Trainer Brad Cox also has been on a roll—one that’s lasted throughout the entire 2020 season. Expect this grey steed to be on the early Pegasus pace as he attempts to stretch his speed and ability over one mile and one-eighth. If no one challenges him early, he could be gone.
#5 Jesus’ Team I. Ortiz J. D’Angelo 8-1
All 3 of Jesus’ Team’s career wins have the word ‘claiming’ associated with them. However, that’s about all they have in common. In his second start, Jesus’ Team won a one-mile test over the Gulfstream main track for a maiden $32k price tag. He followed that effort with a romping tally at the same location and distance in a $25k non-winners of 2. The 4-year-old’s most recent victory came December 5, in the one mile and one-eighth Claiming Crown Jewel, also at Gulfstream. That latest tally included the winner’s share of a $150k purse to bring his total earnings to over $500k. Between those assorted ‘claiming’ experiences, Jesus’ Team has compiled a fine record of in-the-money performances. He was second to Pegasus foe Knicks Go in the Gr. 1 BC Dirt Mile, third in the Gr. 1 Preakness and Gr. 2 Jim Dandy and second in the ‘other’ Pegasus at Monmouth. He also finished fourth in the Gr. 1 Haskell. His best running usually is done from off the pace.
#7 Tax L. Saez D. Gargan 5-1
This 5-year-old gelded son of Arch enters Pegasus off a decisive wire-to-wire victory in the Gr. 3 Harlan’s Holiday at Gulfstream Park going one mile and one-sixteenth. That was his first start since finishing fifth in the Gr. 2 Oaklawn Handicap May 2. Always well-regarded, Tax won the Gr. 3 Withers and then was second in the Gr. 2 Wood before finishing 15th in the Gr. 1 Kentucky Derby. Fourth in the Gr. 1 Belmont Stakes, he returned to win the Gr. 2 Jim Dandy before finishing off the board in the Gr. 1 Travers, both at Saratoga. In last year’s Gr. 1 Pegasus World Cup, he started at contender’s odds of 4-1 but stumbled at the start and finished ninth. His best finishes have come when he’s been able to sit just off the early pace.
#10 Code of Honor T. Gaffalione S McGaughey 9-2
Third in the 2019 Kentucky Derby, this son of Noble Mission is no stranger to Gulfstream Park. He won the Fountain of Youth Stakes here and then was third in the Florida Derby. He also checked in third behind original winner Maximum Security in that year’s Kentucky Derby. The highlight of this horse’s career came during a stretch of 3 consecutive graded stakes wins in the summer of 2019—Gr. 3 Dwyer, Gr. 1 Travers and Gr. 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup (via disqualification). He’s earned $2.6 million with 6 wins in 15 career starts, including 12 in-the-money finishes. Last out he was second by a length to Bodexpress in the Gr. 1 Clark at Churchill in November. Look for him to be closing in the lane.
Note: Over the last 13 years, runners at Gulfstream Park that break from posts 9 through 12 at one mile and one-eighth on the main track are 10 for 225 to win at just over 4% of the time. –Daily Racing Form
$.50 LATE PICK 4 TICKET
RACE 9: 2, 4, 8
RACE 10: 1, 4, 7
RACE 11: 6, 8, 11
RACE 12: 4, 7
TICKET COST: $27