With competitive events throughout Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup card, a few contenders are liable to outperform their odds at Gulfstream Park. In the spirit of trying to think creatively, here are several to consider including at a price.
Race 4 – Fred W. Hooper (G3)
Once upon a time, #8 Indimaaj (15-1) was a promising Belmont Park maiden winner for Shadwell. The son of Tapit and Grade 1 winner Lear’s Princess (best known for flooring Rags to Riches in the 2007 Gazelle [G1]) didn’t progress as hoped, and ended up being culled for $37,000 at Keeneland January 2020. But the 6-year-old might live up to his potential at last. Trainer Jeff Engler told Daily Racing Form that a recent switch to glue-on shoes has made all the difference, explaining his blowout wins in a pair of Tampa Bay allowances last month. If so, Indimaaj could roll into the picture late at big odds.
Race 5 – Allowance/optional claimer
#7 Opry (8-1) is one of those juveniles who didn’t pan out as I expected after his convincing victory in the 2018 With Anticipation (G3) at Saratoga. On the other hand, we haven’t seen much of the Todd Pletcher trainee in the past couple of seasons, but he’s been consistent. The son of Declaration of War has finished unplaced only twice, on yielding going in both the Pilgrim (G3) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), and he’ll find his optimal quick conditions at Gulfstream. Opry won first off a layoff in an entry-level allowance here last March, and his recent bullets at Palm Beach Downs also suggest he’s ready to fire with Joel Rosario.
Race 7 – Marshua’s River (G3)
Although #8 Tuned (8-1) has to step up from her belated second in the My Charmer, the suspicion is that the lightly-raced daughter of champion Zagora is capable of better than we’ve seen so far. A homebred by Al Shaqab’s star miler Toronado, Tuned scored in her U.S. debut in similar conditions – a fast-run mile on firm turf at Keeneland – in fall 2019. Note that Irad Ortiz, who rode her for the first time in the My Charmer, stays aboard for trainer Graham Motion.
Race 8 – La Prevoyante (G3)
If #7 Heavenly Curlin (9-2) sports a mouthwatering pedigree, as a Curlin filly out of a well-related Australian (full sister to Manhattan Rain and half to Redoute’s Choice), #5 Lovely Lucky (10-1) has the profile of one with unfinished business from last summer. The late bloomer looked like a different horse when stretching out to 1 3/8 miles in a Saratoga allowance, and her close fourth to Civil Union and My Sister Nat in the Glens Falls (G2) showed she could compete at a higher level. Lovely Lucky finished well behind the same pair in the Flower Bowl (G1) when last seen, but I’ll give her benefit of the doubt that the Glens Falls is more representative of her ability. At least her best form stacks up well among these, if she can summon it first up for Tom Albertrani.
Race 9 – Inside Information (G2)
#1 Dream Marie (5-1) has placed to a couple of useful types in graded events on this track, twice to Tonalist’s Shape early last year and most recently to Letruska in the Dec. 12 Rampart (G3) over a mile. The cutback to 7 furlongs, against a few with questions at the distance, could help. She’d need a career-best to win, but for that very reason she’ll probably be a decent price, and another placing is well within reach.
Race 10 – W.L. McKnight (G3)
Trainer Mike Maker, who came close to winning this race for the fourth straight year in 2020, has an intriguing type in #7 Tide of the Sea (10-1). A Juddmonte castoff after winning and placing at Saratoga, he sold to Three Diamonds Farm for $80,000 at Keeneland November 2019. The son of English Channel, and grandson of Tates Creek, is entitled to improve with maturity. Tide of the Sea was on just such an upward curve last campaign, dominating in front-running fashion at Kentucky Downs and Keeneland (where he set a 1 1/2-mile course record). Forgive his stakes debut in the Ft. Lauderdale (G2), considering he was taken out of his game at the start. This distance is more in his wheelhouse anyway.
Race 11 – Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1)
Maybe it’s because he’s a Medaglia d’Oro half-brother to War Front, but #4 North Dakota (10-1) strikes me as a bigger threat than his odds imply. Maybe it’s also because trainer Shug McGaughey is pitching him in for the $1 million prize when the McKnight option was right in front of him. (Although his future stallion appeal could explain the placement.) What is clear, however, is that North Dakota took a while to find himself, but once he did, he got good in a hurry. After a troubled fourth to Red Knight in his stakes debut in the Sycamore (G3), he turned the tables in the Red Smith (G3), giving him collateral form with the likes of Arklow and Zulu Alpha. North Dakota’s no plodder, judging by his maiden and allowance scores, so his strong late kick should be as effective on the cutback.
Race 12 – Pegasus World Cup (G1)
The negatives on #3 Independence Hall (20-1) are no mystery – yet to recapture his swagger from his 2-year-old days, lackluster in his only try at this track and trip in the 2020 Florida Derby (G1), deflating his backers again behind Charlatan in the Malibu (G1). Yet his morning line almost begs a second look, wondering if it’s not an overcorrection from his status as a 4.40-1 underlay in the Malibu. After all, the onetime Kentucky Derby (G1) fancy did make a winning comeback for new trainer Mike McCarthy before the Malibu. What if he’d just been run ragged by the Malibu splits of :21.81 and :43.95? The pace will be robust here, but not quite to that tune, and the more typical set-up gives him a shot at doing himself justice. As a son of Constitution from a Cape Town mare, Independence Hall ought in principle to stay 1 1/8 miles, especially at this stage of his career. If he’s as good as he once hinted – granted, a big if – he can get involved in an otherwise formful-looking race.