Hanson: Spot plays for Pegasus World Cup Day turf stakes

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

January 28th, 2022

For lovers of stakes, Gulfstream Park will be the signal to check out Saturday as the track hosts seven of them on its 12-race Pegasus World Cup Day program. The four turf stakes appear the most competitive from a wagering perspective, and here are several runners from that group we'll be interested in backing.

W.L. McKnight S. (G3) -- Race 7 (2:31 p.m. ET)

Trainer Mike Maker has won this race a record four times and is seemingly hell-bent on winning a fifth as he has four in the main body of the field, plus two of the three also-eligibles.

#1 Temple is intriguing for Maker as he is a four-time winner over the surface and finished a close second to stablemate Tide of the Sea in last year's McKnight. Plus the conditioner was intent on re-claiming the gelding for $80,000 in November after losing him for that amount in June.

However, we'll side another stablemate, #9 Glynn County (3-1), who might possess slightly better credentials from a class perspective. Although he has yet to win a stakes, the Kitten's Joy five-year-old produced solid third-place efforts last season in the Mr. D. (G1), behind Two Emmys and Domestic Spending, and Kentucky Turf Cup (G2), behind Imperador and Arklow.

Not seen to best effect when finishing ninth as the favorite in the Sycamore (G3) at Keeneland in October, Glynn County seems capable of bouncing back from that subpar run and contending here with a more representative performance.

Pegasus World Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G3) -- Race 9 (3:36 p.m. ET)

Given she's returning from an extended layoff in a tough spot here, we might be jumping on #5 Gift List (15-1) a little too early in her form cycle. However, at this price, we'll take our chances.

The Bated Breath filly dazzled on Kentucky Derby weekend last year when crushing her fellow three-year-old rivals by 4 1/4 lengths in the Edgewood (G2). However, after only one more start, in which she was compromised by a ridiculously slow pace, she was forced to the sidelines after battles with colic, pneumonia, and a bone chip.

As noted above, this is a tough spot in which to make a reappearance, especially facing older rivals for the first time. However, her ceiling remains high, and two recent five-furlong works at Palm Meadows (one in :57.30 and the other in :59) were positive signs.

Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) -- Race 11 (4:49 p.m. ET)

Todd Pletcher has the horses to beat in #6 Colonel Liam and #12 Never Surprised, but at the likely prices available we don't entirely trust Colonel Liam to be 100 percent fit off such a long layoff nor believe in Never Surprised's speed to carry him against the toughest field he's ever faced.

A seven-year-old with only 12 career starts behind him, #7 Doswell (10-1) has obviously never been the soundest sort. But in Barclay Tagg's good hands, he's made the most of things. Never worse than third race since joining the stable, the son of Giant's Causeway showed a bit of class here last winter when finishing second in the Ft. Lauderdale (G2) to Largent, who went on to narrowly lose the 2021 Pegasus World Cup Turf to Colonel Liam.

Last month Doswell made amends in the most recent renewal of the Ft. Lauderdale, leading all the way and registering a 1 1/2-length win over #2 Atone. For a horse who's had so many issues over the years, it's encouraging that he'll be putting together a fourth run in a row for the first time on Saturday, and Tagg has reportedly expressed satisfaction in his preparation.

The main knock against Doswell is that he's never won from a stalking or closing position, and is unlikely to outrun Never Surprised to the lead here. Nonetheless, we like his form coming in and his price will be relatively attractive.