Saudi Cup could be next for Knicks Go, Jesus' Team

Saudi Cup could be next for Knicks Go, Jesus' Team
Photo: Derbe Glass

Korea Racing Authority’s Knicks Go came out of his brilliant victory in Saturday’s $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park in good order, reported trainer Brad Cox Sunday afternoon.

“The horse looked really good last night. This morning, he flew back to New Orleans. He just arrived at the Fair Grounds and all is well,” Cox stated in a text message.

Knicks Go, the 6-5 favorite ridden by Joel Rosario, took early command of the 1 1/8-mile race for older horses and crossed the finish line 2 ¾ lengths ahead of Jesus’ Team. The son of Paynter ran the distance in 1:47.89 while earning an automatic berth in the $20 million Saudi Cup Feb. 20.

Knicks Go, a Grade 1 winner at 2, had gone winless in 2019 before being transferred to Cox’s stable in 2020. The Maryland-bred 5-year-old won all three of his races last year, including the Nov. 7 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1).

Grupo 7C Racing Stable’s Jesus’ Team spent Sunday morning frolicking in the round pen outside trainer Jose D’Angelo’s barn at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County.

“Jesus came out of the race very good,” D’Angelo said. “When I brought him back to Palm Meadows [Saturday] night, he was ready to go again. He was not tired.”

Jesus’ Team, who had finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1), made a wide sweep into the stretch under Irad Ortiz Jr. and closed steadily to finish second behind the Cox trainee again, edging Independence Hall for second money. The former $25,000 claimer became a millionaire Saturday with the $580,000 purse for his third Grade 1 stakes placing.

Although D’Angelo has driven Jesus’ Team wherever he has traveled this year, the 30-year-old trainer won’t be able to hit the road with the son of Tapiture for his next start. The owners of Jesus’ Team are awaiting invitations for the $20 Million Saudi Cup Feb. 20 and the $12 million Dubai World Cup (G1) March 27.

“The owners will make the decision where he will race next,” D’Angelo said.

Robert and Lawana Low’s Colonel Liam, the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) winner; Repole Stable’s Always Shopping, who captured the La Prevoyante (G3), and the other Todd Pletcher-trained runners who competed on the Pegasus World Cup Day card were ‘excellent’ Sunday morning.

“Everybody seemed to be sound this morning and in good shape,” Pletcher said.

Colonel Liam, who was coming off a victory in the Tropical Park Derby at Gulfstream, rallied from off the pace to capture his Grade 1 debut by neck over Pletcher-trained Largent in the 1 3/16-mile Pegasus Turf. Pletcher’s other Pegasus Turf starter, Social Paranoia finished fourth, a half-length behind third-place finisher Cross Border. Pletcher said there were no firm plans for his Pegasus Turf starters’ next starts.

“The race I have in mind for Colonel Liam is the Woodford Reserve on Derby Day, so the question is kind of what we do between now and then,” Pletcher said. “The other two we’ve got some options with, so we’ll give it a week and kind of survey the landscape and see what the right moves are.”

In addition to saddling Colonel Liam and Always Shopping for graded-stakes victories, Pletcher also visited the winner’s circle with Microsecond following a sharp optional claiming allowance win.

“It was a great day. We were a couple of noses short of having a really terrific day but anytime you have all the horses show up and for the most part run their races, that’s all you can hope for,” Pletcher said. “We were fortunate to win three of them, so it was a successful day”

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