Pegasus World Cup Preview: O'Brien on the hunt
Timeform's Mark Milligan previews the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on Saturday and picks out his best bet.
"...will find the competition here much more palatable compared to some of the tasks he faced last year."
Timeform on Hunting Horn
Saturday sees the third renewal of the Pegasus World Cup meeting at Gulfstream, and while the $9m Pegasus World Cup itself still takes centre stage on the dirt, the turf horses also get their chance to shine in the inaugural $7m Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (21:51 GMT). Pitched as it is right in the middle of the European winter, as well as having to compete with the Dubai Carnival, it is perhaps unsurprising that there isn't a large international challenge for the new race.
The two that have been tempted over, Aerolithe from Japan and Aidan O'Brien's Magic Wand, are both females whose trainers have decided to take advantage of the generous 7 lb allowance given to runners who races without Lasix. Factor in the 5 lb filly and mare allowance and they receive a not inconsiderable 12 lb from the majority of the field, theoretically tilting the scales very much in their favour. Of course, that has to be weighed up alongside the shipping and acclimatisation, something the US horses have less of an issue with.
While it was tempting to put up one of the international challengers as a selection, it is probably worth sticking with the US team, and a horse that is very much on the up in the shape of Catapult. It's not often a turf horse leaves Chad Brown and shows big improvement, but that is exactly what Catapult has done in the care of John Sadler, his 2018 season culminating in a fine second to Expert Eye in the Breeders' Cup Mile. That is just about the best form on offer in here, and while forecast favourite Yoshida also brings solid form to the table, Catapult could well have more improvement to come.
The Pegasus World Cup (22:36 GMT) should boil down to a match between another pair of Breeders' Cup winners, Accelerate and City of Light. Accelerate capped a stellar season by winning the Classic, while City of Joy took the Dirt Mile. This will be the third meeting between the two, with score standing at one apiece, though it should be noted that Accelerate came out best at the weights when runner-up to his old rival at Oaklawn in April.
A small case can be made for a few of the other runners, notably Gunnevera, who will need a strong pace to be seen to best effect, and Kentucky Derby third Audible, who rather blotted his copybook when beaten at odds of 1/10 on a sloppy Gulfstream track last time. However, they both have ground to make up on the front two in the market, and there is little value to be had from a betting perspective on the race.
A better punting opportunity comes in the Grade 3 W. L. McKnight Stakes (21:14 GMT) on the turf earlier on the card. Aidan O'Brien has targeted this for his Royal Ascot winner Hunting Horn, who will find the competition here much more palatable compared to some of the tasks he faced last year. Although he isn't the most consistent, Hunting Horn's best form is more than a match for this field, and he looks fairly priced at around 11/2.
Minimum Bet Guarantee
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