Analysis: Higher Power's a reliable Pegasus World Cup bet

January 22, 2020 02:02pm
For bettors seeking a solid underneath option in the Grade 1, $3 million Pegasus World Cup on Saturday at Gulfstream Park, Higher Power may offer the low-risk running style and overall reliability needed to hit the board against towering favorite Omaha Beach.

Higher Power, a 5-year-old who runs for trainer John Sadler and Hronis Racing, is not likely to win because of his one-paced running style. Nevertheless, the long-winded runner is capable of hanging around.

In his final 2019 start, Higher Power finished a distant third by 8 ½ lengths in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita. He made a mild move on the turn before plugging along evenly late without threatening the leaders.

One month earlier, Higher Power also finished a distant third by 7 ½ lengths in the Awesome Again Stakes (G1) after plugging along evenly late.

Watch how, even after overcoming a slow break, which also occurred in the Breeders' Cup, Higher Power refuses to let Seeking the Soul pass him. 

If nothing else, those two races show Higher Power can hit the board against the best horses in this division. He does this by sitting in mid-pack and running evenly late. He also won the Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar last August after pressing the pace, but those kind of tactics are unlikely Saturday with faster and better speed horses in the Pegasus.

Spun to Run, for one, will gun for the lead with Mucho Gusto, Bodexpress, Diamond Oops. Mr Freeze also figures to follow closely.

Because Omaha Beach moved too late in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile on his way to losing to Spun to Run, jockey Mike Smith is likely to correct himself and let his mount go early. Expect Omaha Beach to begin moving by the half-mile point, and that will discourage a few in the lead group.

Higher Power is probable to sit behind that flight of horses, and he can begin picking them off on the far turn, plugging his way into the mix. Most of these speed horses will fade, leaving more quality runners such as Spun to Run, Omaha Beach, Mucho Gusto and perhaps Tax up front.

If that's your lead group turning for home, Higher Power only needs two of them to fade or miss the board. He's going to keep moving along in the stretch without getting tired -- the type of horse is always reliable to use underneath.

As for Higher Power's training, he looks excellent in the mornings. Watch him devour stablemate Horse Greedy in a Jan. 11 work at Santa Anita.

Horse Greedy posted a mild upset in a high-level Dec. 1 allowance optional claimer at Del Mar, nosing out Much Better and California Street. In the workout above, though, Horse Greedy looked like no match.

Higher Power also outworked stablemate Best Chance on Jan. 18. 
Best Chance lacks talent as a maiden claimer, but the work is notable. 

In any case, the possible play is a backwheel trifecta key. Spun to Run, Omaha Beach, Mucho Gusto and Tax are the four horses I'll use on top, with Higher Power keyed in second or third. The third slot can get more creative with contenders offering similar running styles like Seeking the Soul and War Story.

Trifecta wheel: 2,5,9,10 / 6 / 2,4,5,7,9,10
Trifecta wheel: 2,5,9,10 / 2,5,9,10 / 6

Using the 50-cent minimum, the two bets total $16 in all.

The same structure could be used to backwheel War Story at a larger price, as he figures to make a mild move, too.

The problem with War Story is that he throws in clunkers sometimes and does not figure to improve at an advanced age. But he did win the local Harlan's Holiday Stakes (G3) on this course and sits 30-1 on the morning line..

Seeking the Soul has been out of form for a while, but he also finished second in a more difficult edition of this race last year. Getting 30-1 is tempting.

Backwheeling Tax at 12-1 instead of Higher Power is another option.

In a perfect scenario, Higher Power's odds will drift slightly up, as 6-1 on the morning line seems low for a horse who lost his last two races by big margins. Tax looks a bit high at 12-1 considering he competed well in the top 3-year-old races last year, and War Story's recent form looks too good for 30-1. Bodexpress' 30-1 odds could also take a dip, as he is popular.

Odds and value aside, Higher Power is the most reliable option to pick up second or third. As always, watch the tote board first, and then decide which contender you want to wheel in your trifecta.


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