Given the popularity of turf racing, it came as no real surprise when Gulfstream Park added a Pegasus World Cup turf race to complement its multi-million dollar Pegasus World Cup Invitational on dirt. Fans typically embrace turf races with their wagering dollars because of large, competitive fields, and they have surely the key elements in Saturday’s $1 million, Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational as an extremely contentious field of 12 will break from the gate in the nationally televised race on NBC.
pegasus world cup turf invitational stakes
1. Next Shares (20-1): He ran in this race last year and was last at 54.60-1 odds. His overall form seems similar to a year ago, making him hard to like, especially at this distance.
2. Breaking the Rules (10-1): Was a good third behind Largent in the Ft. Lauderdale Stakes, making him a factor here. He’s usually right there at the finish, though the added distance may work against him in this field.
3. Storm the Court (12-1): He still hasn’t matched that shining moment of winning the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in 2019. He’s done well enough on turf to merit some attention, placing in a Grade 2 stakes in December. Yet it seems a tough spot for him, though there’s not a lot of speed in the field and he could hang on for a share of the purse.
4. North Dakota (10-1): He closed quickly to win the Red Smith Stakes in his last try, rallying from nearly 15 lengths back. That was at 1 3/8 miles and with a 1 ½-mile start before that, the 1 3/16-mile distance over firm turf might be a bit short for him. It certainly would not be a surprise if he’s right there at the finish.
5. Colonel Liam (7-2): He’s done little wrong since he was switched to turf. His lone loss in three starts was caused by a rough trip in the Saratoga Derby. The hitch is that he has only faced 3-year-olds in stakes company and taking him as the favorite in a field of tough, older graded stakes winners seems risky.
6. Largent (9-2): He looked razor-sharp in rallying to win the Ft. Lauderdale, drawing away as if the extra half-furlong here should not be a problem. If he doesn’t bounce off a career-best effort in the Ft. Lauderdale, an encore of his last start will make him a major threat here and an inviting win bet.
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7. Aquaphobia (20-1): Back in July, he surely looked like a top turfer when he captured the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park. Unfortunately he went backwards after that, and finishing sixth and seventh in Grade 3 stakes in his last two starts does not paint an optimistic picture.
8. Anothertwistafate (5-1): You can see in him the correlation between a synthetic surface and turf as he’s a three-time winner on an all-weather surface and comes into race off a win in the Grade 2 San Gabriel Stakes on turf at Santa Anita. He has enough speed to work out a nice trip and deserves plenty of attention.
9. Cross Border (15-1): If the odds are right, he should not be ignored. The added distance should enhance his chances after running at 1 1/16 miles in his last two starts. He was second in a Grade 1 stakes as recently as August and seems capable of a big effort under these conditions for a trainer who won this race a year ago.
10. Pixelate (15-1): He’s another late-closer tackling older foes for the first time. He’ll need to take a big step forward to make his presence felt and that could be a tall order from this post.
11. Say the Word (6-1): Hard to believe he won at 51.50-1 last summer at Saratoga based on his latest races. He’s on a nice upswing and a closing third in the Hollywood Turf Cup should have him on edge for a good showing – if the post does not come back to haunt him.
12. Social Paranoia (6-1): There’s a lot to like in him. After a five-month layoff he had a highly useful tune-up in a December allowance race. He’s won three of four starts at Gulfstream and is a multiple graded stakes winner, but the inevitable loss of ground from this post is hard to overlook and may catch up with him.
THE PICK: Largent
LIVE LONGSHOT: Cross Border