Pegasus World Cup 2023: Odds, picks, more for Grade 1 feature

Pegasus World Cup 2023: Odds, picks, more for Grade 1 feature
Photo: Sue Kawczynski / Eclipse Sportswire

The first major racing event of 2023 brings together a group of older runners hoping to fill a void by retired stars of last year, while another aims to earn a hefty paycheck in his finale.

Cyberknife is the 5-2 morning-line favorite for the Grade 1, $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes. Post time from Gulfstream Park is 5:40 p.m. EST, with NBC showing the 1 1/8-mile event.

Click here for Gulfstream Park entries and results.

The Pegasus offers an early look into how the older dirt male division will shape up in 2023. All three 2022 Eclipse Award finalists for that category – Flightline, Life Is Good and Olympiad – have been retired, as has last year’s 3-year-old champ Epicenter.

Cyberknife will soon join that group. The Pegasus will be the career finale for the 4-year-old Gun Runner colt before he begins stud duty at Spendthrift Farm.

In 2022, Cyberknife earned Grade 1 wins in Oaklawn’s Arkansas Derby and Monmouth Park’s Haskell Stakes. His most recent run was a second-place effort Nov. 5 at Keeneland in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

Brad Cox, trainer of 2021 Pegasus winner Knicks Go, conditions Cyberknife for owner Gold Square. Jockey Florent Geroux will be aboard for the colt’s career finale.

Of the runners expected to race beyond Saturday, Proxy (9-2) carries the lowest odds. Trained by Michael Stidham, he earned a breakthrough victory Nov. 25 at Churchill Downs in the Clark Stakes (G1).

Skippylongstocking (5-1) leads a trio of Pegasus starters for locally based trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. The 2022 Belmont Stakes third-place runner prepped for this race by winning the local Harlan’s Holiday Stakes (G3) on New Year’s Eve.

Grade 1 winner Defunded (6-1) ships east for trainer Bob Baffert off a Native Diver Stakes (G3) win Nov. 27 at Del Mar.

White Abarrio (10-1), third Dec. 3 in Aqueduct’s Cigar Mile Handicap (G1), returns to the track where he won the Florida Derby (G1) last April for Joseph.

Another Grade 1 winner in the field is the Bill Mott-trained Art Collector (10-1). He makes his first start since crossing fifth Oct. 1 at Churchill in the Lukas Classic Stakes (G2).

Here is a look at the field for the 2023 Pegasus World Cup (trainers and jockeys in parentheses) with morning-line odds:

1. Proxy (Michael Stidham, Joel Rosario), 9-2

2. Simplification (Antonio Sano, Paco Lopez), 15-1

3. Ridin With Biden (Butch Reid, Julien Leparoux), 20-1

4. White Abarrio (Saffie Joseph Jr., Tyler Gaffalione), 10-1

5. Defunded (Bob Baffert, Irad Ortiz Jr.), 6-1

6. Art Collector (Bill Mott, Junior Alvarado), 10-1

7. Skippylongstocking (Saffie Joseph Jr., Jose Ortiz), 5-1

8. Get Her Number (Peter Miller, Luis Saez), 15-1

9. Last Samurai (D. Wayne Lukas, Frankie Dettori), 20-1

10. Cyberknife (Brad Cox, Florent Geroux), 5-2

11. Stilleto Boy (Ed Moger Jr., Mike Smith), 30-1

12. O’Connor (Saffie Joseph Jr., Javier Castellano), 10-1

TimeformUS pace projections show Defunded going out to the lead under jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. and setting a fast pace. Favorite Cyberknife is picked to settle in the back half of the field through the early stages.

Pegasus links

Matt Shifman offers Pegasus World Cup odds and analysis, rating Skippylongstocking as his top choice. Ed DeRosa also offers fair-odds analysis, finding that either Last Samurai or Get Her Number could be worth a look if odds drift as the morning line suggests.

Reinier Macatangay finds Cyberknife’s outside post in the Pegasus World Cup troublesome and notes that White Abarrio has never lost over the Gulfstream dirt. He says that if the 2022 Florida Derby (G1) hero can start at 7-1 or higher, then the value is there.

Macatangay also analyzes Pegasus pace scenarios, writing that Defunded and Cyberknife bettors should not let a fast pace discourage them.

Trainer Brad Cox discusses Cyberknife’s draw from the No. 10 post, from which the 4-year-old’s sire Gun Runner won the 2018 Pegasus.

Cox talks more about the Pegasus, which he won in 2021 with champion Knicks Go. “It’s now the premier race for older horses in America for the first half of the year.”

Trainer Michael Stidham could not be more excited about what he thinks Proxy can accomplish as a 5-year-old. “It’s possible for him to put together a phenomenal year,” he said.

Evidence of Saffie Joseph Jr.’s rapid rise into the upper echelon of Thoroughbred trainers in the U.S. will be on display Saturday at Gulfstream Park, where the Barbados native is scheduled to saddle three starters in the Pegasus.

Never shy about running horses in major stakes all over the country, 87-year-old Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas will send Last Samurai from Oaklawn to Gulfstream Park for Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup.

The 5-year-old gelding Stilleto Boy has shown that he is good enough to compete in premier races but not to win them.

Cox of Cyberknife and Stidham of Proxy join the Ron Flatter Racing Pod to discuss their thoughts about the Pegasus.

The biggest races of the New Year so far have prompted a two-pronged attack from Mike Shutty's Super Screener, as Horse Racing Nation's premier handicapping product predicts big balloons on Pegasus World Cup day Saturday at Gulfstream Park to kickoff big savings now through the Kentucky Derby prep season.

Who is the fastest horse in the Pegasus World Cup? What do you do with Art Collector and Cyberknife to build a winning ticket? These questions and more are discussed by DeRosa and Mark Midland, as well as pace scenarios and value plays.

This week on HorseCenter, hosts Brian Zipse and Shifman offer analysis and top picks for a pair of rich races from Gulfstream Park. Cyberknife looks to go out a winner in the Pegasus World Cup and Ivar is the favorite in the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1).

Other Saturday stakes

Here is a look at some of the other graded-stakes races scheduled for Saturday across the U.S. Click here for a separate guide to Saturday’s Kentucky Derby and Oaks preps.

1:19 p.m. – $150,000 La Prevoyante Stakes (G3), 4-and-up fillies and mares, Gulfstream Park, 1 1/2 miles (turf), FanDuel TV

Adventuring (7-5), winner of Kentucky Downs’ Ladies Marathon Stakes (G3) in September, seeks a second Grade 3 win for trainer Brad Cox. Jockey Joel Rosario gets the call on the 5-year-old Pioneerof the Nile mare, third-place runner Nov. 24 at Churchill Downs in the Cardinal Stakes (G3). Shug McGaughey trains Personal Best (7-2), who aims for a first stakes win after running third Dec. 26 in the local Tropical Park Oaks. The Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained Transient (4-1) finished third Nov. 12 at Woodbine in the Maple Leaf Stakes (G3).

2:27 p.m. – $200,000 Inside Information Stakes (G2), 4-and-up fillies and mares, Gulfstream Park, seven furlongs, FanDuel TV

Obligatory (7-5), a Grade 1 winner for trainer Bill Mott, starts her 5-year-old season. Jockey Jose Ortiz will pilot the Curlin filly, last seen running fifth Nov. 5 at Keeneland in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. Joseph Catanese III trains Maryquitecontrary (5-1), whose four-race winning streak includes a local Rampart Stakes victory New Year’s Eve. Famed (5-1) has won back-to-back races for Cox, including the She’s All In Stakes on Dec. 17 at Remington Park.

Related: Superfecta keys: Play these 5 races at Gulfstream on Saturday

3:01 p.m. – $200,000 W.L. McKnight Stakes (G3), 4-and-up, Gulfstream Park, 1 1/2 miles (turf), FanDuel TV

Channel Maker (3-1), the 2020 champion turf male, makes career start No. 50 in his first race since finishing seventh Nov. 5 at Keeneland in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Mott and jockey Tyler Gaffalione team up with the 9-year-old English Channel gelding, a four-time Grade 1 hero. Mike Maker trains Temple (9-2), a Grade 2 winner who aims to bounce back off a 10th-place effort Nov. 26 in Aqueduct’s Red Smith Stakes (G2). Red Knight (9-2), another Maker-trained Grade 2 winner, ran 11th in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

3:28 p.m. – $150,000 Toboggan Stakes (G3), 4-and-up, Aqueduct, seven furlongs, FS2

Pirate Rick (3-1) has won four races in a row over the last two months and wheels back six days after a local allowance victory at six furlongs Sunday. Jockey Jose Antonio Gomez will get a leg up on the 6-year-old Liam’s Map gelding for trainer Norman Cash. Juan Avila trains Little Vic (7-2), a Laurel Park stakes victor who was second Dec. 30 in the local Gravesend Stakes. 2022 Toboggan Stakes winner Drafted (4-1) attempts to win the race a second straight year for trainer David Duggan.

3:34 p.m. – $150,000 Fred W. Hooper Stakes (G3), 4-and-up, Gulfstream Park, one mile, FanDuel TV

Miles D (3-1) makes his first start in more than 11 months, when he was the third-place runner Feb. 19 in Fair Grounds’ Mineshaft Stakes (G3). Rosario will pilot the 5-year-old son of Curlin for trainer Chad Brown. Maker trains 2022 Pegasus fourth-place finisher Endorsed (5-1), winner of a local allowance race Dec. 22. Mish (6-1) was third against allowance foes going 1 1/16 miles locally Dec. 8 for Joseph.

4:06 p.m. – $500,000 Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf Invitational Stakes (G3), 4-and-up fillies and mares, Gulfstream Park, 1 1/16 miles (turf), FanDuel TV

Shantisara (9-5), a Grade 1 winner for Brown, returned from a layoff of nearly seven months to run fifth Nov. 5 at Keeneland on the Breeders’ Cup undercard in the Fall Harvest Stakes. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. will be aboard the 5-year-old Coulsty mare. Al Stall Jr. trains fellow Grade 1 heroine Dalika (5-2), last-out winner of Churchill's Cardinal Stakes. Queen Goddess (9-2), yet another Grade 1 winner, ships east for trainer Michael McCarthy after winning the Robert J. Frankel Stakes (G3) on New Year’s Eve at Santa Anita.

Related: Dalika prepares for career finale in Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf | Shantisara, Dalika lead Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf field

4:40 p.m. – $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational Stakes (G1), 4-and-up, Gulfstream Park, 1 1/8 miles (turf), NBC

Ivar (5-2) aims for the second North American Grade 1 win of his career as morning-line favorite for trainer Paulo Lobo. Jockey Javier Castellano has been tabbed to ride the 7-year-old son of Agnes Gold in his first start since a fourth-place run Nov. 5 at Keeneland in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. Christophe Clement trains City Man (4-1), who prepped for this spot by winning the local Ft. Lauderdale Stakes (G2) on New Year’s Eve by 1 1/2 lengths over stablemate and fellow Pegasus Turf starter Decorated Invader. Grade 1 victor Lady Speightspeare (6-1), third-place runner Nov. 5 at Keeneland in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, battles male runners in this spot for trainer Roger Attfield.

Related: Pegasus World Cup Turf 2023: Odds and analysis | Pletcher goes for 3rd straight Pegasus Turf win; see the field

6:25 p.m. – $300,000 Houston Ladies Classic (G3), 4-and-up fillies and mares, Sam Houston, 1 1/16 miles

Pauline’s Pearl (9-5) returns off a layoff for trainer Steve Asmussen that dates to a third-place finish July 2 at Churchill Downs in the Fleur de Lis Stakes (G2). Jockey Stewart Elliott will get a leg up on the 5-year-old Tapit mare, a Grade 1 winner who also took this event last year. Tom Amoss trains Sixtythreecaliber (3-1), winner of the Comely Stakes (G3) on Nov. 25 at Aqueduct. She Can’t Sing (7-2) also exits a Grade 3 victory, hers coming Nov. 19 in Churchill’s Chilukki Stakes for trainer Chris Block.

6:55 p.m. – $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup Stakes (G3), 4-and-up, Sam Houston, 1 1/2 miles (turf)

Spooky Channel (5-2), victor of this race in 2021, returned Dec. 26 for his first start in more than 14 months, winning Fair Grounds’ Buddy Diliberto Memorial Stakes. Jockey James Graham will ride the 8-year-old English Channel gelding, who is trained by Jason Barkley. Maker trains Bemma’s Boy (7-2), a Grade 2 winner who was fourth New Year’s Day at Gulfstream in an allowance race, his first start in more than eight months. 2022 Connally Turf Cup hero Another Mystery (9-2) finished sixth Dec. 17 at Gulfstream in the H. Allen Jerkens Handicap for Block.

7:10 p.m. – $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes (G2), 4-and-up, Santa Anita, 1 1/8 miles, FanDuel TV

Hopper (5-2) returns to the starting gates for the first time since winning the local Affirmed Stakes (G3) on June 11 in his third career start. Jockey Edwin Maldonado will be up on the 4-year-old Declaration of War colt for trainer Bob Baffert. Phil D’Amato trains Newgrange (3-1), a Grade 3 winner and former Baffert-trained runner who was third Nov. 27 in Del Mar’s Native Diver Stakes (G3). 2021 Pacific Classic (G1) hero Tripoli finished fourth Nov. 22 in the Zia Park Championship Stakes for trainer John Sadler.

Related: Baffert's Hopper gets first start since June in San Pasqual | Santa Anita: Newgrange returns for more at 4 in San Pasqual

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