Garrity's Saturday Pegasus Day Stakes Picks: 5 races from Gulfstream Park, with 2 Grade 1 World Cups
The eyes of the racing world today will be mostly on Gulfstream Park, where the Pegasus World Cup headlines a 13-race card. We have plays in five of those races, all stakes, and expect fast dirt and firm turf for what should be a fun and interesting afternoon in South Florida. Let’s go.
Gulfstream Park, Race 8, 2:41 pm ET
Grade 3 William L. McKnight Stakes, 1½ miles, Turf, 4 & Up
A full field of twelve goes to the gate for this turf race. We can’t get past the favorite, 1-Francesco Clemente, who was last seen finishing a second, beaten by just a neck, in the Hollywood Gold Cup at Del Mar in November. That was his first try at this 12 furlong distance, and we think he will improve off that race, which is bad news for the rest of the field, many of whom appear to have little interest in staying the mile and a half. Look for Francesco Clemente to be well back, maybe even last, early, but flying late; we will bet him to win at 2-1. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 8, $40 to win on 1-Francesco Clemente.
Gulfstream Park, Race 9, 3:13 pm ET
Grade 2 Inside Information Stakes, 7 furlongs, Dirt, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
A rather underwhelming group of ten filly and mare sprinters lines up for the Inside Information. The one who looks best to us is 10-Olivia Darling, who has speed and an outside post position, both of which will be major assets, as her rivals have a conspicuous lack of speed, and the early pace should be moderate. Drawing outside will give jockey Irad Ortiz the luxury of deciding when to use Olivia Darling’s speed; we see her sitting just behind the pacesetters, and seizing control of the race as the field turns for home. We will bet her to win at 4-1. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 9, $40 to win on 10-Olivia Darling.
Gulfstream Park, Race 10, 3:45 pm ET
Grade 2 Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf, 1 1/16 miles, Turf, Fillies & Mares 4 & Up
A dozen turf distaffers go in the Pegasus Filly and Mare Turf. In a race like this, we normally start the handicapping process by drawing a line through every entrant based in Southern California, as the turf horses there are woefully inferior to their counterparts in the East, but in this case, we’re going to make an exception, and will do so with 6-Ruby Nell. We like this daughter of Bolt d’Oro partly because she could well have a pace advantage – she has speed in a field where there is little of it, and could get a dream trip on or near the front end – but mostly because she starts for Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, who rarely ships his horses East, but who demands attention when he does. Recent indications, including a sizzling morning drill eight days ago, suggest that Ruby Nell is sitting on a monstrous race, and that makes her 6-1 morning line number too good to pass up. We will bet her to win. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 10, $40 to win on 6-Ruby Nell.
Gulfstream Park, Race 12, 4:55 pm ET
Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf, 1 ⅛ miles, Turf, 4 & Up
The first of two Grade 1 races at Gulfstream Park this afternoon is the Pegasus World Cup Turf. We found it the easiest race of the day to handicap, as one entrant, European star 9-Warm Heart, faces an ordinary-looking American contingent. We don’t care that she’s a filly running against the boys: What matters is that she is truly world-class on turf, having won a pair of Group 1 races in England and France as a 3-year-old last year, and finishing a sensationally good third against older males in the Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin on December 10, a race in which any of her rivals today, even the better ones, would have been at least 30-1. American turf racing is in bad shape these days, which is sad; what will not be sad is watching Warm Heart demolish this field, and then going to the windows to cash. We will bet her to win at 9/5 odds, and will do so with gusto. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 12, $75 to win on 9-Warm Heart.
Gulfstream Park, Race 13, 5:45 pm ET
Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup, 1⅛ miles, Dirt, 4 & Up
There’s been a lot of chatter this week about 7-National Treasure, who is favored off an impressive win in the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile back in November. While he did beat a good group that day, we wouldn’t bet him with counterfeit money here, as he’s not run since, and he is 0-for-2 lifetime at this nine furlong distance. At a short price, we think he is a major play-against.
We like 12-Skippylongstocking. He was last seen finishing third, behind National Treasure, in the Breeders Cup Mile, but we think that race was not the best fit for him: he’s the kind of horse for whom a mile is too short, and a mile and quarter is too long, and since those are the two choices for Breeders Cup Dirt races (the Dirt Mile and the Classic, respectively), trainer Saffie Joseph picked the shorter race, and hoped for the best. Now he’s back at the distance at which he is best, and that, combined with the fact that his recent morning workouts have been very fast, makes him very dangerous. At 8-1, we think he’s live, and will bet him to win. The bet: Gulfstream Park, Race 13, $40 to win on 12-Skippylongstocking.
That’s all for today. Until tomorrow, enjoy the racing, be safe, and, as always, good luck at the windows.