Every Horse’s Path to the Pegasus Title

Horse Racing Radar
Rich Bieglmeier
Rich Bieglmeier is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Saturday, January 23, 2021

Looking for a Pegasus World Cup winner? Take your pick:

SLEEPY EYES TOM (PP: 1 ML 8-1) has run 1 1/8 miles three times in his career. He has a win, a second and a fifth. He hurried to the front in the pair of in the money races and ran co-pilot in the miss. He's made his money as a closer or stalker of late, winning his last two from off the pace at 7 furlongs. Stalking a fast pace is probably his best chance to win. It's doubtful he can outrun faster horses early and still have the legs to get to the line first.

COASTAL DEFENSE (PP: 2 ML 15-1) would need many things to go his way to be crowned the Pegasus champ. He doesn't have the speed to get in front of the speed burners, an ideal stalking trip is his best path to the winners' circle. He would need the all the horses that flashed speed at some point to hustle out and set a torrid pace. With strong late pace figures, he has the kick to outrun other closers to the wire.

INDEPENDENCE HALL (PP: 3 ML 20-1) is another that wants to see fast quarter and half-mile fractions. Jockey Flavien Prat would love to see the fist half in under 47 seconds and be fourth or fifth behind the pacesetters. With a head of steam, INDEPENDENCE HALL would need to pass tiring rivals while holding off others with better late legs. He'll need close to a perfect setup and trip.

KNICKS GO (PP: 4 ML 5/2) has one way to the winners' circle, get to the front and stay there. Trainer Brad Cox has to hope his horse can get the lead without too much pressure. It won't take too much to clear the inside three, but that turn does come quick. He could be in trouble in he has to go three-wide all the way through the first turn.

JESUS' TEAM (PP: 5 ML 8-1) is in that fat group that needs the early speed types to lose the race in the opening half by going too fast. His late pace figures are way to low to compete with the closers. As such, jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. will need to sit right off the pace, maybe fourth or fifth, make a power move out of the turn, get a big jump on the late comers and hope to hold on.

KISS TODAY GOODBYE (PP: 6 ML 10-1) has won two in a row. He is in good form but still only has one way to win, a fast pace. However, he would need just about all the other closer and stalkers to run a little faster than they should too. He has weak early pace and mid-pace figures. He could be way behind and if the pace isn't fast enough, he could stay there.

TAX (PP: 7 ML 5-1) is coming off his biggest race, winning handily in his fist start in more than seven-months. Owner Randy Hill and trainer Danny Gargan tell Horse Racing Radar they hope to be second or third (they will be), go past KNICKS GO and hold off CODE OF HONOR. We agree, that's their way to the winners' check.

HARPERS FIRST RIDE (PP: 8 ML 10-1) might be the only horse in the race with multiple routes to trophy. He's won on the lead and he's won from the middle and he's won from the back. If the pace is too slow, he'll crowd KNICKS GO. If the pace is just right, he'll likely tag along with TAX. If it's too fast, jockey Angel Cruz will likely be the first closer in line to make his move.

LAST JUDGEMENT (PP: 9 ML 20-1) won his last race leading from start to finish. The winning effort was way out of character for the five-year-old. It was the first time in his last 10 starts that he didn't stalk or close. Trainer Michael Maker's horse has some strong, late pace figures relative to the rest of the field. Although he wired the field last out, LAST JUDGEMENT's fractions suggest he doesn't have the early tempo to keep up with the likes of KNICKS GO. Stay close to the front and use his late push in probably his way to the W. However, he ran just one week ago. It will be a tall task.

CODE OF HONOR (PP: 10 ML 9/2) is the class of the field, running in seven Grade I stakes races in his last 10 starts with a G2 and a pair of G3s in the other. Of late, he gives horseplayer hope, charging down the stretch only to fall short. To win, jockey Tyler Gaffalione needs to put his horse closer to the front than usual. That could be difficult from the 10 spot. He'll need to be no worse than fifth or sixth out of the first turn and no more than 3 to 5 lengths from the front or an opening half mile under 47 to have his best chance.

MR. FREEZE (PP: 11 ML 15-1) needs to be on/near the lead to score. He hasn't shown another way in his last 10 outings. Jockey John Velazquez will need to push MR. FREEZE super-duper hard to clear horses to his inside before the quick first, left turn. He'll need an opening quarter mile in about 24 seconds to be in his preferred spot, probably not going to happen. Otherwise, if he'll need to run the first-quarter mile in 22 and change to make his way forward and that's too fast.

MATH WIZARD (PP: 12 ML 20-1) looks like the most overmatched horse in the field, he's not been close in six of his last seven starts. The only way for him to finish first is with a hot pace that engulfs the rest of the field. Odds are that won't happen and he'll be the longest shot on the board at post time.