There is a reason racing fans and gamblers look forward to big-race days like Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup card at Gulfstream Park: betting value.
Large fields on cards like the ones you see for Pegasus day, Triple Crown days, or Breeders’ Cup weekend provide additional opportunities to find value plays and get a solid return on investment for your opinions.
When I look at a card, I’m hoping to identify races that feature vulnerable favorites and races with live longshots who figure to outrun their odds. In the $500,000 TAA Pegasus World Cup Filly and Mare Turf Invitational Stakes Presented by Pepsi, I think I’ve identified both – so why not swing for the fences?
#9 Shantisara is the 2-1 morning-line favorite for top turf trainer Chad Brown, and based on her 2021 form she would be very deserving. However, the now 5-year-old Coulsty mare was winless in two starts last year at age 4 and was well-beaten most recently by fellow Filly and Mare Turf entrant #3 Wakanaka, who has more appeal to me at her 6-1 odds.
#2 Dalika is the second choice at 7-2 on the morning line and, I think, has a chance to be sent off as the favorite over Shantisara. She is making the final start of her career in the Filly and Mare Turf, and I am frequently dubious of this “swan-song” tactic before retirement. Additionally, Dalika’s best races – and she is very good at her best – have come when she is permitted to set an uncontested pace. I don’t see that happening here with Southern California shipper #6 Queen Goddess (5-1) boasting plenty of speed as does #10 Bay Storm (10-1) from an outside post. #1 Artie’s Princess (20-1), primarily a synthetic surface sprinter, could also play a role in what might be a strong early tempo when stretching out to this 1 1/16-mile distance on grass.
Two runners I think offer value here are #7 Lady Rockstar (8-1) and #4 Sweet Enough (20-1).
Lady Rockstar was often a bridesmaid in Europe before coming to the U.S. last year and winning her first two races by open lengths. She struggled when first moved up to graded stakes competition, finishing fifth as the 9-5 favorite in the WinStar Matchmaker Stakes in July on the TVG.com Haskell Stakes undercard at Monmouth Park.
Trainer Brendan Walsh gave her some time off after that and she finished a much-improved second after the freshening in the Grade 3 Suwanee River Stakes on this turf course, a race that should set her up for a nice effort in her second start off the layoff. Irad Ortiz Jr. opted to ride Shantisara in the Filly and Mare Turf, but Lady Rockstar picks up the services of a terrific rider in Tyler Gaffalione who rode the 5-year-old Frankel mare in her first start in the U.S.
Sweet Enough enters the Filly and Mare Turf off a nice, 2 ¾-length allowance win on this course at this distance Dec. 29. In that race she finished nicely after tracking a very swift pace, and I could see a similar scenario play out in the Pegasus Filly and Mare Turf.
Sweet Enough put together a three-race winning streak in Europe in 2021 as a 3-year-old, but she is stepping way up in class here for Hall of Fame trainer Roger Attfield. However, at 20-1 odds Sweet Enough is well worth a shot in only her fourth start in North America.
My main strategy will be a win bet on either Lady Rockstar at 8-1 or on Sweet Enough if Lady Rockstar gets bet down below 6-1, but I’ll try to catch both in an exacta box with the aforementioned Wakanaka.
Wakanaka won two stakes in her last three starts in 2022, which bookended an unplaced finish against males in the Grade 1 Ricoh Woodbine Mile. She also could offer solid value and I expect her to run well.
Win Strategy on a $20 Budget
$20 to win on #7 Lady Rockstar ($20)
What to say at the betting window: Gulfstream Park, Race 11, $20 to win on 7
Exacta Strategy on a $30 Budget
$5 Exacta box: 3,4,7 ($30)
What to say at the betting window: Gulfstream Park, Race 11, $5 exacta box: 3,4,7