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Saturday, January 23, 2021

The Lead:
January's hottest racing card arrives with the Pegasus World Cup anchoring a 7-stakes lineup. Gulfstream Park offers a $750,000-guaranteed late pick four and late pick five pool, the latter beginning in Race 8 with the La Prevoyante Stakes. This 1-1/2 miles turf marathon for the fillies and mares honors the Hall of Fame filly La Prevoyante, who was part of the magnificent 1973 sophomore class that included Secretariat, and few recall as juveniles that Secretariat and La Prevoyante finished 1-2 in a split Horse of the Year vote.

Be sure to download our free Pegasus World Cup Wager Guide for detailed analysis of the main event races, as well as full-card AI picks from the 1/ST BET app.  

Field Depth:
ALWAYS SHOPPING has the field's best win at the Grade 2 level. HEAVENLY CURLIN and ENGLISH AFFAIR are Grade 3 winners. COURT RETURN is Grade 1-placed. The likes of SISTER HANAN, DELTA'S KINGDOM and TRAIPSING are Grade 3-placed. There's not a massive class edge in this race, though ALWAYS SHOPPING, LOVELY LUCKY and COURT RETURN have come out of the strongest races.

TRAIPSING has shot to the front in her last 3 starts and will compete for the lead with LOVELY LUCKY. ALWAYS SHOPPING should be forwardly placed from the rail. The pace does not look fast, as would be expected for 1-1/2 miles on grass.

Our Eyes:
None of these dozen runners owns a victory at 1-1/2 miles on turf, but there are a few races at the trip on their resumes that stand out. Chief among those was ALWAYS SHOPPING's narrow runner-up in the Grade 3 Dowager at Keeneland. CAMEBLIZA also was second over the assignment on the Keeneland lawn in allowance company in October, while DELTA'S KINGDOM finished third just behind her in that same heat. The rest will have something to prove over the 12 furlongs.

ALWAYS SHOPPING boasts 100 BRIS late pace figures in each of her last 2 starts, the aforementioned Dowager runner-up and a strong, 3-length Via Borghese victory at Gulfstream over 1-3/16 miles. She's perhaps the best finisher in this race, and should be sitting no worse than third down the backstretch, perhaps even closer-up, which makes her a very tough out for her competition. Irad Ortiz Jr. rides for Todd Pletcher, and they're just the leading jockey and trainer at the Championship Meet heading into Pegasus Week.

The Via Borghese victory by ALWAYS SHOPPING will be put back to the test as her 2-4 pursuers get a re-match. TRAIPSING was favored in that Dec. 19 race, but faded to fourth after making the lead. She'll switch pilots to stakes maestro Joel Rosario, in from California to ride the Pegasus World Cup card. The impeccably bred Tapit-Light Jig mare CAP DE CREUS was an unthreatening third in the Via Borghese and will get another crack at her Todd Pletcher stablemate ALWAYS SHOPPING after a troubled trip earned her a steward's promotion last out.

LOVELY LUCKY gets some class relief after battling in October's Grade 1 Flower Bowl, where she set the tempo and faded to seventh. The Tom Albertrani trainee will be ridden by Jose Ortiz, who piloted both of her career victories, and whose Gulfstream turf marathon record over the last 4 years shows a sharp 7-for-12 finish in the exacta -- according to the vast Betmix statistical database.

HEAVENLY CURLIN aims for 4 straight wins, racking up a trio of scores at Woodbine to close 2020. Trainer Mark Casse's barn hasn't had the kind of meet we've come to expect, but has perked up a bit in recent weeks. Fellow Canadian COURT RETURN surprised all in the Grade 1 E.P. Taylor in October when second at 41-1, but it's worth noting that historically stout race lacked the international flair and quality it typically has due to pandemic travel restrictions.

Another streaking mare is SISTER HANAN, seeking her third straight win and first stakes. She'll team with hot-riding Corey Lanerie, who has been outstanding on turf in recent weeks at Gulfstream.

Most Certain Exotics Contender: ALWAYS SHOPPING should get a great trip in terms of pace, is drawn inside, has a win over the course, and the best performance of anyone at the distance. Hard to fault.

Best Longshot Exotics Contender: CAMBELIZA has run Lasix-free throughout her career and won't see any change to her routine. Her 102 BRIS late pace figure in allowance company over this turf trip indicates she could be finishing as well as anyone.

Sending it in ($100 bankroll): $80 win ALWAYS SHOPPING. $10 exacta part-wheel ALWAYS SHOPPING with CAMBELIZA and LOVELY LUCKY.