Can Knicks Go stretch out to go farther than he ever has?
That's the question on the minds of BetAnySports racebook bettors as the Pegasus World Cup approaches at Gulfstream Park.
At one time, the Pegasus was the richest horse race in America. No more, and we're not going to promise you that this is the most star-studded lineup this race has ever had. But it's pretty good, and there is a pretty good story attached to it.
The distance is a mile and an eighth.
Post time is 5:44 PM ET.
Here are the odds as of now (with jockeys' names) at BetAnySports:
1 Sleepy Eyes Todd - J L Ortiz +800
2 Coastal Defense - C J Lanerie +1500
3 Independence Hall - F Prat +2000
4 Knicks Go - J Rosario + 250
5 Jesus Team - I Ortiz, Jr +800
6 Kiss Today Goodbye - M E Smith +1000
7 Tax - L Saez +500
8 Harpers First Ride - A Cruz +1000
9 Last Judgment - P Lopez +2000
10 Code of Honor - T Gaffalione +450
11 Mr. Freeze - J R Velazquez +1500
12 Math Wizard - E J Zayas +2000
The general feeling is that Knicks Go, who was second in the Breeders Cup Juvenile as a two-year-old, but at one time went on a ten-race losing streak, has been revived since joining the barn of trainer Brad Cox.
The horse is working on a three-race winning skein, and that includes a track record-setting effort in the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile at Keeneland.
So there is momentum on his side.
The other contenders are led by Code of Honor, a winner of the Fountain of Youth at this track in 2019, who went on to place third in both the Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby. Then there were wins in the Travers Stakes and the Jockey Club Gold Cup, although he has gone winless in his last four. A winner of $2.64 million in purse money, Code of Honor will be ridden for the first time by Tyler Gaffalione.
Tax ran in last year's Pegasus World Cup, but his race was spoiled just as it began, stumbling early and finishing ninth. A 14th-place finisher in the 2019 Kentucky Derby, he has rehabilitated himself a great deal. There was a huge effort on December 12, with a 4.5-length win in the Grade 3 Harlan's Holiday, right there at Gulfstream. His connections feel that he is better than ever at the moment.
Mr. Freeze is off a huge work, and has a nice team in trainer Dale Romans and jockey John Velasquez. He was second in last year's Pegasus to Mucho Gusto. This six-year-old was sixth in the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile and has won $1.6 million.
Jesus' Team, a third-place finisher in the Preakness Stakes, was second to Knicks Go in the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile. he won the Claiming Crown Jewel on December 5.
There is some interest in Sleepy Eyes Todd, who has the rail. He is coming off a win at Gulfstream in the Mr. Prospector a month ago, and trainer Miguel Silva says he absolutely loves the distance, having won the Charles Town Classic at a mile and an eighth. He'll be looking to stay a little off the pace, which is probably a good idea. Jose Ortiz rides him for the first time.
As mentioned, there is acknowledgment that Knicks Go is a different horse since joining up with Cox, having won three races in 2020. Aside from the resounding win in the Breeders Cup, there were two runaway performances in optional claiming races at Keeneland, winning by 7-1/2 and 10-1/4 lengths. The latter race represented a track record at a mile and a sixteenth. And he ran each of the first four quarters under 24 seconds. He'll be near the front, if not clearly there.
The big question is whether he can get the mile and an eighth, a distance he has never gone. Cox is really confident about that; he says that in those wins under his care, that he sensed that "there was horse left." And the pedigree would seem to support that; Knicks Go is the son of Paynter, who won the Haskell Invitational at a mile and an eighth and finished second in the Belmont.
Yes, he'll "stretch." And yes, I'll take him. And I'll probably work Sleepy Eyes Todd into something too.
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