(Editors note: Apologies from the BTB for the tardiness in posting the article)
The Pegasus World Cup, a relatively new entry on the list of prestigious races in the World, is contested on 9 furlongs on the dirt. The first three winners in real life; Arrogate, Gun Runner and City of Light were all big time horses on the track. Recently added to the SIM, and in the URC, this will be the inaugural running of the event. Ten horses will contest the race, which due to something a clerical era, will be held in Dubai this year. One of these runners will get bragging rights as the first ever to take home the winner’s trophy.
Lincoln Song 6/1 (Kingsbarns): Trained by legions, Lincoln Song is the only Irish bred in the race. The 5yo gelding was claimed for $3000 and after 17 career starts on the turf he was given a chance on the dirt. After a 5th place dirt debut, Lincoln Song has finished 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 1st putting up a 113 and 110 in the process. Even if he does nothing else he will have been an excellent claim for legions. All of Lincoln’s placings have been in starter allowances, so there is a legitimate question of class here, in fact Lincoln has never won an allowance race being still eligible for 1x conditions. Even if this is too large of a step up, Lincoln Song should have the prospects for a really nice second half of his career and he has a lot of races before him which provide easy prize opportunities.
Lord LeBron 15/1 (American Pharoah): Trained by alphaandomega, this horse was claimed from, well me, his previous race which gives me a good deal of inside knowledge of him. A 5yo gelding (lots of snipping going on among our early entries), LL has 2 wins from 18 starts which was the reason I lost patience with him. Capable of hitting the board, but finding it ponderously difficult to reach the winners circle, LL actually lost both the claiming races I had entered him in so even with a drop in class the victory remained elusive. It is hard for me to make a case for LL, but it sure will serve as a lesson in perseverance if he can put it all together one day and perhaps Saturday will be that day.
Universal Slew 9/2 (Smart Strike): Trained by kingscourt, a 6yo, which I believe means he comes from the last class of Smart Strikes. A blue blood scratch bred (Seattle Slew x Deputy Minister), he has 3 wins from 22 starts. Most dirt routers won’t have great records, but Slew does show ability having hit the place or show spot 12 times, so he is finishing on the board in over 50% of his starts. Another spot of good news – he once ran a 116 at this distance and if he can duplicate that speed he can win. Now the bad news, he hasn’t won in over a year. Capable, but more of the threat for pieces of the trifecta.
Saturday Blues 6/1 (Any Given Saturday): Trained by mark, the 7yo has been lightly raced, only registering 22 starts and picking up 5 wins in the process. Mark has some thoughts on his entry: “if Saturday Blues runs like he should and can I would love a top 3 finish. His last race he wasn’t set at 100% effort, it was at 50%, so this time he is set at 100 and I have high hopes, others may not, but I do.” Two years ago he ran a 111 in a stakes at this distance and three years ago he ran a 113 in stakes at this distance. He is capable of running fast and in this class of race, it just remains to be seen if there is still enough juice in those 7yo old legs.
Nordic Furioso 11/1 (Furioso): Trained by kimugle, he is one of the three previous stakes winners in the race. He has 4 wins from 28 starts his signature stakes win coming at this distance two years ago where he ran a 111. He comes off a 5th place finish in a 10.5f Stakes where he ran a 99. Will be getting the drop in distance which should help a bit. Hasn’t won in a year which makes a score here a longshot.
Bodeo 6/1 (Bodemeister): Trained by jms this 4yo should be a serious player in this race. A veteran of the URC race circuit, Bodeo has competed in the URC Breeder’s Cup Juvenile where he ran 8th. He improved dramatically upon this in the URC Preakness where he hit the board running 3rd. He hit one spot better in the URC Summer of Fun with a 2nd. Will it all come together this time for a 1st? He certainly looks capable, only has 12 races under his belt, once ran a 115 at this distance in an allowance win and will get the benefit of the drop down to 9 after two stakes runs at 10.5 and 10. Loads of potential and ability here and I would surprised if he didn’t run top 3. Jms concurs saying, “I like this 4yo colt a lot, he was close to getting a stakes win last year, placing twice. Nine furlongs seems like a distance he likes, if he runs a good race I think he will be in the mix.”
Patroclus 11/1 (Pioneerof the Nile): Trained by yours truly, Patroclus, like Bodeo will be a newly turned 4yo looking to expand upon his career. This will be his first start of 2019. Patroclus has 3 wins from 11 starts his stakes win coming in the GR Preakness last year. The Preakness was the first of four races that saw his SP times gets progressively faster going 104 to 106 to 107 to 111, which was only good for 10th in an blazing fast GR Simsters BC Classic on an off track. The lack of big number speed times on his resume is the story behind his high morning line odds and the discerning bettor will have to wager on whether or not he has the capacity to throw a 115. Patroclus comes from the all star mare The White Witch so he has the pedigree and class, Saturday will determine if he has the speed.
Thaddeus Stevens 7/2 (Empire Maker): Trained by john, our favorite in this race is a deserving one. 5yo stakes winner has 8 wins from 17 starts. He comes off a 115 in a HOT race at 9 in January and a pre-HOT prep has often led to a big win next time out. He won the URC Breeders Cup Classic at 15/1 odds with a 114 on an off track. Before the HOT race you might have questioned his affinity for this distance as he looked best at 10 furlongs plus and there was also a question of class as he racked up wins in low level allowance and HOT racing. That’s why he was such long odds in the Classic, but his last two efforts have clearly stamped him as a serious contender and if he runs to the form of those races he will be hard to beat. Interestingly, Bodeo, Patroclus and Thaddeus are all deep closers. It is unlikely all will fire, it also seems to open the possibility that someone could steal the race on the lead with soft fractions.
Shakin Saturday 48/1 (Shakin it Up): Trained by rob and recently gelded the longest shot on the board did pop a 108 in his first race since being snipped. Has never run at 9 furlongs and has never won a non maiden race that wasn’t a $2000 claimer. He does only have 8 career starts however so there is likely a lot of room for improvement. Without that post-gelded 108 I would say that it would have been impossible for him to win, now I’ll go with highly improbably. Still, if he does pull it out, he will be a poster child for geldings everywhere.
Tap it Mambo 4/1 (Tapit): Trained by stablemate the 5yo scratch bred (Kingmambo x Danzig) is a major conundrum for bettors. Only has one win in the last nine months and 3 wins from 19 career starts but he has gotten very good lately running a 115, 111, and 114 in his last three. Also runs near the front and likely will be on the lead at the 4 furlong mark, so depending on how fast the pace goes he could get to the wire just before the trio of closers come at him. I feel like the race set up really benefits the son of Tapit and even in a worst case scenario he still finishes 3rd or 4th.
Good luck to all horses and have fun at the Pegasus Cup!