Pegasus World Cup 2020: New morning line odds, favorite

January 24, 2020 12:01pm
High-profile scratches of Omaha Beach and Spun to Run, the original top two morning line choices for Saturday's Pegasus World Cup (G1), have altered the makeup of this event from a star-powered, top-heavy race to a more open betting event.

However, Gulfstream Park officials do not plan to update the official morning line to reflect Omaha Beach's defection. So Horse Racing Nation's founder and CEO, Mark Midland, assembled updated odds to ready players for the $3 million race at Gulfstream Park.

"With Omaha Beach and Spun to Run out, our pick for race favoritism falls to Higher Power," Midland said, with the John Sadler trainee is the only horse in the field exiting the Breeders' Cup Classic. He ran third behind Vino Rosso and McKinzie after getting away from the gate slow; earlier in his 2019 season, Higher Power also dominated Del Mar's Pacific Classic (G1).

Higher Power, 6-1 on the original morning line, is 5-2 on Midland's update of the remaining 10 in the Pegasus field. He received the nod for favoritism over Mucho Gusto (7-2) and Tax (4-1).

"Mucho Gusto is working strongly," Midland said, but he hasn't been seen since running fourth in the Oklahoma Derby (G3) in September. Tax, meanwhile, scratched from the Oklahoma Derby and reappeared when second in the Discovery Handicap (G3) in November, marking his first start since finishing seventh in the Travers Stakes (G1).

A diminished field size also has an affect on the longshots. There were five horses at 30-1 on the original morning line -- Seeking the Soul, War Story, Mr Freeze, Tenfold and Bodexpress -- but those prices figure to plummet, as these contenders now make up half the field.

Mr Freeze is the shortest price from the group on Midland's line at 10-1.

RELATED: Free past performances

Pegasus World Cup Odds
 Post/Horse HRN Morning Line Original Morning Line
 1. True Timber 12-1 20-1
 2. Tax 4-1 12-1
 3. Diamond Oops 12-1 20-1
 4. Seeking the Soul 15-1 30-1
 5. Omaha Beach SCR 7-5
 6. Higher Power 5-2 6-1
 7. War Story 15-1 30-1
 8. Mr Freeze 10-1 30-1
 9. Spun to Run SCR 7-2
 10. Mucho Gusto 7-2 9-2
 11. Tenfold 20-1 30-1
 12. Bodexpress 15-1 30-1

With that settled, take a look at updated full-field Pegasus World Cup analysis:

True Timber (Kiaran McLaughlin/Joe Bravo): Third in three straight graded races in New York -- two of them while chasing the speedy Maximum Security -- he’s seeking a first stakes win and doesn’t figure to get it here. True Timber ran evenly to be seventh in last year’s Pegasus. He could improve on that finish Saturday as a possible board hitter.

Tax (Danny Gargan/Jose Ortiz): This gelding ran a sneaky-good second in Aqueduct’s Discovery, producing big numbers on Nov. 30 behind Performer, who's one to watch this season as an older horse from Shug McGaughey's barn. There's a case to be made that he's improving, and Spun to Run's defection will make it significantly easier for the front-running type to hang around.

Diamond Oops (Patrick Biancone/Julien Leparoux): No doubt this gelding loves Gulfstream Park with a 5-for-6 record locally, but what about the distance? We don’t have a true gauge, as Diamond Oops stumbled at the break of his prior two-turn dirt try in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Since the draw, have seen many arguments that he'll garner support and go off well below the morning line price.

Seeking the Soul (Dallas Stewart/John Velazquez): He won one of eight starts in 2019, that being the Stephen Foster (G2) over his favorite track at Churchill Downs. The form that got him a second in this race a year ago may be in the rearview mirror for the 7-year-old, who’s looked a step slower lately.

Omaha Beach, SCR (Richard Mandella/Mike Smith)

Higher Power, 6-1 (John Sadler/Flavien Prat): Since breaking out for new connections in the Pacific Classic (G1), he earned a pair of thirds in Grade 1 company in California, but only after stumbling at the start in the Awesome Again and breaking slow in the Breeders' Cup Classic. If Higher Power can get away cleanly and repeat that Del Mar effort, he holds a huge chance.

War Story, 30-1 (Elizabeth Dobles/Joel Rosario): Just when you think this guy’s done, he delivers a winning performance in the Harlan’s Holiday (G3) and is on to the Pegasus — for a third time — in a new barn. The 8-year-old no longer looks like a plodder, but rather a mid-pack runner who could get an earlier run on to the board. Spun to Run's scratch doesn't help his chances, however, as that one figured to tire out other pace types.

Mr Freeze (Dale Romans/Luis Saez): The dominant winner of the 2018 West Virginia Derby (G3) hasn’t duplicated that effort, but there have been flickers, namely a victory in the 2019 Ack Ack (G3) at Churchill Downs. The thinking here is we haven’t seen his best lately. But can Mr Freeze get back to it? Romans has hyped up this runner in recent days, calling him a live longshot.

Spun to Run, SCR (Carlos Guerrero/Javier Castellano)

Mucho Gusto, 9-2 (Bob Baffert/Irad Ortiz Jr.): He tailed off form in the Oklahoma Derby but earned a pair of Grade 1 placings previously in the Haskell (G1) and Travers (G1). Interestingly, he shows up here with new Saudi Arabian ownership, with this viewed as a prep for the Feb. 29 Saudi Cup. He's in position to be controlling speed on the outside. But will Mucho Gusto have the right amount of staying power off the layoff?

Tenfold, 30-1 (Steve Asmussen/Tyler Gaffalione): This horse jumps up once in a while to deliver big efforts, such as his wins in the 2018 Jim Dandy (G2) and 2019 Pimlico Special (G3). But we’re past eight months since he’s hit the board. Works haven’t been especially sharp for this spot, either.

Bodexpress, 30-1 (Gustavo Delgado/Emisael Jaramillo): Despite moving through conditions with two post-Preakness Stakes victories, antics at the gate may have cost him again in the local Pegasus prep, the Harlan’s Holiday. Surely, though, we haven’t seen his best, if at least he can get the mental side of the game down. He has speed, and he'll need it on a short run to the first turn. Scratches are a big boost to his chances.

Analysis: It's a shame what's happened to this field and the assumed value on Higher Power, who I liked even with Omaha Beach and Spun to Run in against him.

This now looks like an event where Bodexpress is in a lose-lose situation, either falling back before the first turn or gunning it on the front end. Expect the latter, with Higher Power the type of horse that could sit in position to get first run once he fades.

By no means does the new favorite hold an overwhelming shot of winning. He still has to break, and that's been his undoing lately. Mr Freeze offers a similar running style and ceiling at a much better price. He'll get my win-place money.

Tax and Mucho Gusto are still horses to use on a trifecta ticket, while the big defections increase chances that a horse like True Timber and War Story could round out the board.

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