The Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) is certainly the marquee event on Gulfstream Park’s Saturday afternoon card in South Florida, but there are plenty of races on the undercard that are worth wagering on as well.
Here are a few races I will key in on over the course of the 12-race extravaganza in Hallandale Beach.
The day gets started early at 11:30 a.m. (ET), but no worries. I will be ready to fire before noon.
Olympic Runner (#1) (7-2) saved ground just off the early pace in his debut going five panels over this sod for trainer Mark Casse, but traffic issues kept the sophomore son of Gio Ponti from finishing in the money. With the stretch out to two turns and a start under his girth, this $180,000 Keeneland September 2017 purchase for Gary Barber should be tough to beat.
Value Engineering (#6) (4-1) makes his debut for Chad Brown and Klaravich Stables. The son of Lemon Drop Kid is out of a Dynaformer mare who has produced four multiple winners, including Grade 3-placed $192K earner Ketel Twist. He makes his initial try off a long series of drills at Palm Meadows Training Center and, like many Brown first-time starters. appears well meant.
Sir Chubby (#5) (20-1) got off to a slow start in his debut over this course in late December and was wide throughout under veteran jokey Robby Albarado, so I can forgive his ninth-place effort. At 20-1 on the line, I am willing to give the Pennsylvania-bred another shot for veteran conditioner Thomas Bush.
All in Stew Oui (#8) (20-1) is also listed at 20-1. The son of Twirling Candy has yet to hit the board in two starts, but he should be ready to move forward stretching out from two sprints to a route. Trainer Ian Wilkes is known for having patience with his stock, and if the $90,000 OBS April 2018 purchase can avoid another poor break, he can get a piece at a big price.
Win 1 (3-1 or higher)
Trifecta Key: 1 with 5+6+8
Superfecta Wheel: 1+6 with 1+5+6+8 with 1+5+6+8 with 1+2+5+6+8+10
RACE 10: W.L. McKnight Stakes (G3)
I am all in on Zulu Alpha (#4) (4-1) in this 1 1/2-mile journey over the Gulfstream Park lawn.
The six-year-old son of Street Cry failed to fire his best shot last out in the Fort Lauderdale Stakes (G2) at nine furlongs, but I can forgive that performance since the Mike Maker trainee was caught wide early and was farther off the early pace than he prefers. With a draw closer to the inside, I expect jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. to find a ground saving spot just off the early lead for Zulu Alpha, get the jump on his main rivals and get to the wire first.
Daily Double 4-7
RACE 11: Pegasus World Cup Invitational Turf (G1)
The inaugural edition of this $7 million event conducted at 1 3/16 grassy miles did not draw the field that I anticipate the racing office hoped for given the massive purse, but it is an intriguing race nonetheless.
Yoshida (#2) (5-2) is a deserving –morning-line favorite, but I prefer a less experienced runner who should provide much better value.
Bricks and Mortar (#7) (5-1) won the first four starts of his career in 2017, including a three-quarter length victory in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes (G2) at Saratoga, but then finished third in his next two tries before being on the sidelines for over a year.
The son of Giant’s Causeway beat a field of high-level optional claimers stylishly last month and appears set for a lifetime best effort in his second start off the significant layoff. His success over this turf course is an obvious plus.
I will be invested heavily on Bricks and Mortar at anything near his 5-1-morning-line price.
Win 7 (7-2 or higher)
PHOTO: Bricks and Mortar captures the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes (G3) at Saratoga under jockey Joel Rosario on August 4, 2017 (c) NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography/Chelsea Durand