By Nicholas Godfrey
USA: Knicks Go, who completed a hat-trick for Brad Cox with his emphatic victory in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, is hot favourite for the fifth edition of the Pegasus World Cup (10.44pm GMT, live on Sky Sports Racing) at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.
“It’s a very prestigious race,” said Cox, who is on the shortlist to win his first Eclipse Award as champion trainer on Saturday night.
“It hasn’t been around that long, but with the likes of Gun Runner, Arrogate and City Of Light, there are champions that have won this race. It means a whole lot. It’s a race that can make a stallion, and we’re still trying to do that with Knicks Go.
“He’ll be a stallion at some point. This would mean a lot and do a lot for his value as a stallion. Not only is it a great purse, but it’s going to add a lot of value if he’s able to win the race.”
No longer anywhere near the world’s richest race – nor, for that matter, the richest race in America – the $3m contest over 1m1f nevertheless anchors a compelling Florida card featuring seven graded stakes also including the marquee attraction’s sister contest, the Pegasus World Cup Turf (9.59pm).
Shall we talk about it?
Code Of Honor: “In the Clark, he was bottled up there. By the time he got loose, the race was pretty much over. Before that, going a mile, Chad’s horse [Complexity] kind of controlled what was going on. I think Javier (Castellano) knew he had to be closer and move a little sooner. The Whitney was a throwout. His first race was good. I probably shouldn’t have run him in the Metropolitan Mile. He was wide and Vekoma got the trip. He’s a nice horse. Maybe this will be his day.” Shug McGaughey
Harpers First Ride: “He’s the kind of horse that can run all day. He does everything right. When he runs if you push him, he can be on the lead or he can come from behind. This is just a nice horse.” Claudio Gonzalez
Independence Hall: “There are a lot of unknowns with the horse. Can he handle a mile and an eighth? His one race at Gulfstream was just OK so there are a lot of unknowns going into this. For one reason or another, which I can’t put my finger on, he just did not seem to fire that day [in the Malibu]. I have to draw a line through it. The horse has trained forwardly since. His work was very, very good. If you bring a horse into a $3m race, I think this is the kind of work you want to bring him in off.” Michael McCarthy
Jesus’ Team: “It’s very exciting. It is the most important race of our calendar in South Florida at Gulfstream Park. I think it’s a big test for both me and Jesus.” Jose d’Angelo
Kiss Today Goodbye: “He was always very immature early on. It just took him longer to get to where he is, and I think he is really just beginning to mature.” Eric Kruljac
Knicks Go: “I haven’t raced a lot at Gulfstream, but I think speed is always a good thing there. I’m a big believer that speed is good at a mile and an eighth and beyond – obviously it depends on how much other speed is in the race. But I think he can get it. I think he’s a horse that once he gets free and loose, he runs with a lot of confidence. I really do think he’ll handle a mile and an eighth. In his three races with us last year, there was horse left. In the Breeders’ Cup, Joel (Rosario) reached up and grabbed him four or five jumps from the wire, so he was still going.” Brad Cox
Math Wizard: “He’s doing good. Normally, when he comes off a layoff, it takes a race or two for him to come back to order. We wanted to get him the race in the Harlan’s Holiday. I feel like he’s going to move forward off that race.” Saffie Joseph
Mr. Freeze: “Mr. Freeze has plenty of gas, so he can get out and settle where he needs to be. It’s a pretty fair race going a mile and an eighth here no matter where you draw. He loves this racetrack.” Dale Romans
Sleepy Eyes Todd: “I love the mile and an eighth. He already won at that distance and he performed really good at that distance. We’re just hoping that we have a different kind of trip. We don’t want to be on the lead and hopefully we can pick up horses at the end.” Miguel Silva
Tax: “He’s better now than he’s ever been. We always knew he was a really good horse. He’s grown and developed into a better horse than he was last year. I think with age he’s getting better and getting stronger, healthier. He has a few little issues we had to work through, and he’s gotten through them. I’m expecting a big performance.” Danny Gargan
Pegasus World Cup betting
Ladbrokes: 13-8 Knicks Go, 7-2 Tax, 4 Code Of Honor, 11 Jesus’ Team, Sleepy Eyes Todd, 16 Mr. Freeze, 20 Harpers First Ride, 25 Coastal Defense, Independence Hall, Kiss Today Goodbye, Last Judgment, 33 Math Wizard.
Pegasus World Cup Turf
Ladbrokes: 4 Anothertwistafate, Colonel Liam, 5 Largent, 7 Social Paranoia, 9 Say The Word, 10 North Dakota, 12 Breaking The Rules, 14 Cross Border, Pixelate, 16 Next Shares, 20 Aquaphobia, Storm The Court.