2019 Pegasus World Cup Expert Picks with Odds and Betting Predictions
The third running of the Pegasus World Cup takes place on Saturday at Gulfstream Park. The race was the richest in the world the first year it was run with a $12 million purse, and that jumped to $16 million last year. But it is no longer the big dog as the purse has fallen to $9 million, and the Dubai World Cup has jumped to $12 million. This is also one of the most unique races in the world as horses don't pay entry fees like most races. Instead, owners buy their space in the starting gate and become business partners in the event. If an owner doesn't wind up having a horse appropriate for the race, they can lease or sell the spot.
This time of year is ideal for the racing world. There is not really much going on in the handicap division in January - or since the Breeders' Cup in early November. Typically, we would see top horses retire after the Breeders' Cup Classic. But since the breeding season in North America doesn't start until February, those horses that are retiring can stay in training, take a shot at one last big payday, and still be ready when mares come calling. That's what California Chrome did in the first edition of the race - though he didn't win. And it's what Gun Runner did last year, too. This year Breeders' Cup Classic winner, Accelerate, who would be the easy Horse of the Year if it weren't for Justify's Triple Crown dominance, is the favorite here in his racing swan song.
One unique factor of this year's Pegasus card is the depth of betting opportunities. New this year is the $7 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational - I like Yoshida in that race and will have Catapult in my exotics, but I am not particularly excited about the race. And the rest of the card is worth a look, too.
This year's Pegasus World Cup field isn't the most star-studded as the first two as Accelerate hasn't captured the imagination like Arrogate, California Chrome, or Gun Runner did. But it is the deepest and toughest field we have seen. Here's a look at how the highlights of the 12-horse field break down:
Accelerate (9/5): He won all of California's top Grade 1 races last year then won the Classic. I was against him in the Classic, and that went badly for me. But I don't learn easily, so I am looking to beat him again here. I don't love the price, and this is an eighth of a mile shorter than the Classic.
City of Light (5/2): This horse has already beat Accelerate at this distance, and he won the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile to prove his quality. The distance and race shape both suit him, and for better or worse he's my top choice.
Gunnevera (8/1): He was third in this race last year and was second in the Classic behind Accelerate in November, so he is often a piece of big races. But though I will have him lower in my exotics, the price isn't high enough to justify him as a win bet. People like this horse a lot - especially in Florida - so he will be bet lower than he should be.
Audible (10/1): He's best known for finishing third in the Kentucky Derby last year, but his biggest win came in the Florida Derby at this same track. That will draw attention his way, but he was lousy in his prep race here, and I am not a believer.
Patternrecognition (10/1): This is a five-year-old who only made his stakes debut last fall, so he is certainly a late bloomer. He has made the most of his limited time, though, winning both the Kelso and the Cigar Mile. Chad Brown and Jose Ortiz are a nice combo, and at this price he is an attractive option.
Bravazo (12/1): This D. Wayne Lukas colt came closer than anyone to beating Justify when he was a hard-charging second in the Preakness. He was strong against older horses in his last two races but has yet to have his big breakthrough. He's going to have one at some point, though, and at this price he's an exotics factor, too.
Kukulkan (30/1): This is the wild card here - likely not a contender, but a fun wild card. This horse is unbeaten in 14 career starts and won the Mexican Triple Crown. But he has run in Florida only once. And though he won, his speed rating wasn't close to the class of the best here. His story and his record will draw action - likely much more than he should - but I struggle to see any way he can keep things rolling.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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