Race of the Week: Meet the Pegasus World Cup Contenders

Let’s meet the contenders for Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup, which goes as Race 13 and anchors the Gulfstream Park card. The $3 million feature has a capacity field of 12 with a pair of also-eligibles.

1-Proxy: After knocking on the door in all 8 previous stakes races, finally broke through in the Grade 1 Clark Handicap at Churchill on Thanksgiving weekend. The well-bred son of Tapit and Grade 1 winner Panty Raid travels over Gulfstream Park’s main track for the first time and should save ground from the rail draw.

2-Simplification: Winner of Gulfstream’s Fountain of Youth last February, his sophomore campaign saw him finish third in the Florida Derby and fourth in the Kentucky Derby. All 3 of his career wins are at home at Gulfstream, where he’s not missed the top-3 in 7 attempts. Inside draw a boost to his versatile running style.

3-Ridin With Biden: Longshot has yet to race above the Grade 3 level, but won the Greenwood Cup at Parx among 3 wins in his last 4 starts. Regular rider Paco Lopez jumped saddles to ride Simplification, leaving the mount open to Emisael Jaramillo.

4-White Abarrio: The 2022 Florida Derby winner looks to become the first horse to win Gulfstream Park’s two signature dirt races. The $40,000 purchase has earned more than $1 million and has amassed a 4-for-4 local record. Only he and stablemate Skippylongstocking own Gulfstream wins at the PWC distance of 1-1/8 miles.

5-Defunded: One of the expected early pace players, California-based Defunded exits the top 2 performances of his career, winning the Grade 1 Awesome Again and Grade 3 Native Diver at Santa Anita and Del Mar. Son of Florida Derby winner Dialed In picks up top jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. for 2-time Pegasus World Cup-winning trainer Bob Baffert.

6-Art Collector: Projects as one of the fastest contenders in terms of early pace, he’s drawn just outside another primary speed player in Defunded. The 2-time Charles Town Classic winner has won 10 of 20 starts and a field-high $2.3 million. Jockey Luis Saez departs to ride Get Her Number, leaving the mount to Junior Alvarado.

7-Skippylongstocking: Winner of the local prep, the Grade 3 Harlan’s Holiday Stakes, he exits what was arguably the best race of his career. Only he and stablemate White Abarrio own Gulfstream wins at the PWC distance of 1-1/8 miles. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. hops off to ride Defunded, while brother Jose Ortiz steps aboard last year’s Grade 3 West Virginia Derby winner.

8-Get Her Number: This will be the sprinter/miler’s first 1-1/8 miles dirt race since a fourth-place try in the April 2021 Grade 1 Arkansas Derby. Hard-luck runner-up in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby at Del Mar and Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct during the 2022 season. Good traveler takes his game on the road. Luis Saez opts to ride here after piloting Art Collector in 7 of that veteran’s last 8 races.

9-Last Samurai: Historic pairing of world-renowned jockey Frankie Dettori and Hall of Fame legendary trainer D. Wayne Lukas. The 2022 Oaklawn Handicap winner over this 1-1/8 miles trip will be making his first foray to Gulfstream Park. A current 6-race losing streak includes battles with Proxy and Art Collector.

10-Cyberknife: The 5-2 morning line favorite comes out of a tough beat in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile when second by a head. That race has produced 3 of the last 4 Pegasus World Cup winners, including 2 straight. His pace-versatile style for champion trainer Brad Cox keeps him in contention in most any scenario, important for a horse drawn in a difficult, wide post position. Sire Gun Runner won this race with Florent Geroux aboard, and they’ll look for a follow-up in what will be Cyberknife’s final career race before retiring to stud.

11-Stilleto Boy: Third-place finisher in the 2022 Pegasus World Cup behind superstars Life Is Good and Knicks Go, we’ll see if last year’s 26-1 surprise exotics appearance can be repeated. The $1.1 million earner is by Preakness winner Shackleford. Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith won this race in 2017 aboard Arrogate.

12-O’Connor: Chilean 6-year-old will try to become the oldest Pegasus World Cup winner. Fourth as the favorite in the local prep, the Grade 3 Harlan’s Holiday, O’Connor must overcome a tough post draw in the 12-hole. Javier Castellano gets the call for trainer Saffie Joseph Jr., who also starts White Abarrio and Skippylongstocking.

Art Collector

$100 Betting Strategy:
$50 Win: Defunded
$25 Exacta Box: Defunded and Cyberknife ($50)