The Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational presented by Runhappy made quite a splash in its first edition 12 months ago. Yes, it was contested on a soaked, yielding turf course at Gulfstream Park. But it was also won by Bricks and Mortar as the first step in an undefeated campaign that seems likely to be rewarded with Horse of the Year honors. Looking ahead to Saturday’s second edition of the Pegasus Turf, the skies should be clear, and while it seems unlikely that the 2020 Horse of the Year is in the field, a similar comment could have made a year ago about the 2019 Horse of the Year.
1. Zulu Alpha (12-1): He has a strong late kick, but, as funny as it may seem, he’s one of a couple of horses who seems to want more distance than 1 3/16 miles. Given the distance, his running style and the likelihood of a slow pace, this may not be the spot for him.
JOCKEY: Tyler Gaffalione TRAINER: Mike Maker
2. Arklow (6-1): He’s another who would be happier if the race was 1 ¼ miles or more. He acted up before the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf – at 1 ½ miles – then raced wide and was still only less than three lengths behind Bricks and Mortar. He’s a highly consistent sort who belongs in the exotics, but he’ll need a few things to go right for him to pull off a victory.
JOCKEY: Luis Saez TRAINER: Brad Cox
3. Without Parole (4-1): He’s trained by Chad Brown, which says all you need to know in a Grade 1 turf stakes, but he’s also one of Brown’s three starters in the race. He’s a bit of a question mark because the distance is a tad long for him. He’s a top class miler, as seen in his third-place finish in the grassy Breeders’ Cup Mile in his first U.S. start, and you can bank on Brown having him ready for an extra 3/16 miles in his first race since the Nov. 2 World Championships. Racing in Europe without Lasix and winning a Grade 1 stakes at Royal Ascot speaks well for his ability to race without Lasix here. Plus, can you beat getting Chad Brown AND Frankie Dettori in a $1 million turf stakes?
JOCKEY: Frankie Dettori TRAINER: Chad Brown
4. Sadler's Joy (8-1): He’s another member of the “I Wish It Was a Mile-And-A-Half” Club. He always tries and usually brings home a check against some of the top turfers, but the distance and pace will not flatter him. He’s another who may not win, but should be used in the exotics, especially if his odds slip past the 8-1 mark.
JOCKEY: Javier Castellano TRAINER: Tom Albertrani
5. Channel Cat (10-1): He’s also been competitive and should be competitive at the distance, but his record of one win and no seconds in eight 2019 starts is not encouraging.
JOCKEY: John Velazquez TRAINER: Todd Pletcher
6. Instilled Regard (10-1): Chad Brown’s second starter looked good in winning the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale at 1 1/8 miles at Gulfstream last month and cannot be ignored in an extremely well-matched field. This is his third race since a six-month layoff and he may be poised for a big effort, even if his speed figures are bit behind some of the others.
JOCKEY: Irad Ortiz Jr. TRAINER: Chad Brown
7. Admission Office (30-1): He closed fast to finish second by a half-length in the Fort Lauderdale and should relish the additional half-furlong. If you like Instilled Regard at 10-1, then you have to love him at 30-1. He could hold the key to some huge exotics.
JOCKEY: Flavien Prat TRAINER: Brian Lynch
8. Henley’s Joy (30-1): He’s winless in five starts since taking the $1 million Grade 1 Belmont Derby, but he’s run into some soft turf, which he doesn’t like, and maybe if the sun spends the day in South Florida, he might wake up with a big effort.
JOCKEY: Julien Leparoux TRAINER: Mike Maker
9. Next Shares (30-1): He ran in this race last year and finished a well-beaten seventh. A firm course should help his cause but he got that in the Breeders’ Cup Mile and was still 6 ¾ lengths behind Without Parole. We’ll pass.
JOCKEY: Jose Valdivia Jr. TRAINER: Richard Baltas
10. Mo Forza (5-1): He blossomed in the last two months of his 3-year-old season, becoming a Grade 1 winner. He’s tackling older horses for the first time and his speed figures seem a cut below his elders. What could work for him is that he has some early speed in a race loaded with closers and maybe, if he’s left alone long enough, he could steal this one.
JOCKEY: Joel Rosario TRAINER: Peter Miller
11. Sacred Life (12-1): In four U.S. starts for Chad Brown, he’s never been worse than second. He had a rough trip when second last time out to Next Shares in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 2 Seabiscuit at Del Mar and was probably best in that race. His European background should help with the no Lasix rule, but the likelihood of a wide trip from post 11 diminishes his chances.
JOCKEY: Jose Ortiz TRAINER: Chad Brown
12. Magic Wand (7-2): Had to wait a while to get to the morning-line favorite and that’s what might ultimately lead to a second straight runner-up finish in this race. This 5-year-old mare is a world traveler for famed European trainer Aidan O’Brien with a great record but a lot of things will have to work out right to put her in the winner’s circle from post 12. Since she’s the favorite, there’s better investments in this field.
JOCKEY: Ryan Moore TRAINER: Aidan O’Brien
13. Tusk is an also-eligible and can only run if one of the other horses scratches from the race.
JOCKEY: Paco Lopez TRAINER: Saffie Joseph Jr.
THE PICK: Without Parole
LIVE LONGSHOT: Admission Office