Looking for Longshots on the Pegasus World Cup Undercard

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

January 25th, 2018

The $16 million Pegasus World Cup (gr. I) is obviously the highlight of the Saturday card at Gulfstream Park, but four other graded stakes races are scheduled to be run as well.

Here are some of my handicapping thoughts on each race….

Race 3: La Prevoyante Stakes (gr. III)

In this small field, it’s hard to look past #7 Apple Betty, a 1 ½-mile specialist who won the Dowager Stakes (gr. III) over this distance at Keeneland last time out. The Shug McGaughey-trained daughter of Galileo can be effective racing on the lead or from a few lengths off the pace, though her 7-5 morning line odds make her rather unappealing as a win play. However, if you’re looking for a single in the early multi-race wagers, Apple Betty is a possibility.

Race 7: Fred W. Hooper Stakes (gr. III)

If you’re willing to forgive his poor finish last time out in a strong renewal of the Cigar Mile (gr. I), it’s not hard to make a case for the newly-turned four-year-old #10 Beasley to win the Fred W. Hooper. The son of Shackleford ran well in a couple of allowance races at Gulfstream last winter, and following a layoff he returned in the summer to win a couple of similar events at Saratoga and Belmont while facing older horses. A strong third in the seven-furlong Bold Ruler Handicap (gr. III) against the talented pair of Tom’s Ready and Stallwalkin’ Dude earned him a 103 BRIS speed figure, and if he can bounce back to that form, he’s worth a play at anywhere near his 15-1 morning line odds.

Race 8: W. L. McKnight Handicap (gr. III)

Trainer Mike Maker has earned a great reputation for claiming horses, stretching them out in distance, and turning them into stakes competitors. That’s why I’m intrigued by the chances of the 20-1 shot #1 Markitoff, who was claimed by Maker last summer and has since progressed to win two straight races, including a nine-furlong allowance race at Gulfstream earlier this month in which he ran the final three furlongs in a quick :34.57 seconds. The son of Giant’s Causeway has enough pedigree to suggest that 1 ½ miles is within his reach, and with races favorites #5 Bullards Alley and #7 Oscar Nominated being infrequent winners, this could be the perfect spot to take a chance with a longshot.

Race 9: Hurricane Bertie Stakes (gr. III)

With her 7-for-11 record at Gulfstream Park, last year’s Hurricane Bertie winner #7 Curlin’s Approval looms as the obvious choice to score a repeat victory. That said, #11 Moonlit Promise has never finished out of the exacta while sprinting and has won three straight races over the Tapeta track at Woodbine, including a determined victory in a fast renewal of the seven-furlong Bessarabian Stakes (gr. II). The Hurricane Bertie will mark her dirt debut, but the daughter of Malibu Moon has a thoroughly dirt-oriented pedigree and has drawn a wide post position that should help her stay out of the kickback. I think she’s live at 10-1.


Beasley, Markitoff, and Moonlit Promise should all offer odds worthy of win bets and exacta plays with the other logical contenders, but since they’re competing in consecutive races, let’s also shoot for a big score in the Pick 3:

Race 7 $2 Pick 3: 10 with 1,5,7 with 1,7,8,11 ($24)

Good luck!