John Sheeran of the Betfair Trading team gives his verdict on the Pegasus World Cup and is struggling to see past favourite Gun Runner...
"He has improved all season and despite a niggling worry about the hard race at Del Mar he shouldn’t be opposed for me. I think he will go off about 3/5 on track and I think that reflects his chance accurately."
John Sheeran on Gun Runner
Give us a run through of what the Pegasus World Cup is all about?
The Pegasus is the world's richest horse race with prize money totalling $16.3M run at Gulfstream Park, Hallandale Beach, Florida over nine furlongs on dirt. The winner receives a cool $7M with prize money dropping gradually to $650k for all horses finishing sixth through 12th.
The gates are bought for $1M and can be sold or leased if the owner doesn't have a runner. For example, last year, Arrogate actually won from the Coolmore owned gate after a deal was brokered between Juddmonte and Coolmore.
The idea behind the race was to fill a void in the US racing schedule after the Breeders' Cup and before the lead up to the Kentucky Derby. The timing of the race allows for a horse to run one last time before retiring to stud before the breeding season in the US begins in mid-February. The favourite Gun Runner will take that very route this year as he bids to sign off with a victory to back up his smooth win in the Breeders Cup Classic last November at Del Mar.
Are there any unique features to Gulfstream Park that we should know about?
Not really, the most notable thing about the track is that it is quite sharp and tends to generally favour speed horses on a fast dirt surface. The trip in the Pegasus of 1 1/8 miles is basically a full circuit of the track. However, the important thing to note is that the starting gates are located just over a furlong from the first bend which means that the draw is very important.
So Gun Runner, from stall 10, will need to be very alert when they jump. You can expect to see Florent Geroux being aggressive with him as the gates open in an attempt to get him out and running quickly so he can slot over as easily as possible.
Breeders' Cup winner Gun Runner is a warm order for this, should we look to take him on?
I don't think so, the only hope for the others, is that he has drawn poorly in 10. He has improved all season and despite a niggling worry about the hard race at Del Mar he shouldn't be opposed for me. I think he will go off about 3/5 on track and I think that reflects his chance accurately.
Jamie Osborne sends over Toast of New York, what chance does the former UAE Derby victor have?
It is very hard to see how Toast of New York can produce a performance that can trouble Gun Runner in a fairly run race. I think he has to improve in excess of a stone on his reappearance (which has been franked at a much lower level) and to produce the horse here to win off one Lingfield run after three years off would be a training feat for the ages.
He's a handy horse who has travelled well in the past and produced solid performances both in Dubai and at Santa Anita in the Classic at the Breeders Cup. However, this will be a much tougher ask against seasoned dirt performers and I fully expect him to come up short. Weight of money will likely mean he goes off at about 16/1 here but I have his chance more like 3%.
Who is your idea of the winner and are there any each-way angles?
As I have alluded to earlier, I think Gun Runner is deservedly a strong favourite, I don't have any real concerns about the draw, provided he breaks on terms. He should be hard to beat and looks fair value at around even money.
As for the EW angle, I don't like Sharp Azteca because he is unlikely to be able to stay 9f around two turns and I find it hard to see how West Coast can improve enough to come from off the speed to win so at the front end I prefer Collected under Mike Smith, who will likely be ultra-aggressive from the start in a bid to secure a prominent position early in the race.
At bigger prices I could see Gunnevera running on late into a place, if they go too hard early. Otherwise it looks very much a front of the market race.