#US RACING: 19 INVITEES FOR 2022 PEGASUS WORLD CUP ANNOUNCED

Knicks Go
Knicks Go

Knicks Go, Life Is Good the stand-outs

Defending champion and projected 2021 Horse of the Year Knicks Go and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner Life Is Good highlight a list of 19 horses invited to compete in the Grade 1, $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational on Jan. 29 at Gulfstream Park.

Seven graded stakes worth $5.2 million in purses will be offered on Pegasus Day, led by the return of the Pegasus World Cup and $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) and the debut of the $500,000 Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf (G3).

All three races are for 4-year-olds and up. The Pegasus World Cup and Pegasus Turf are contested at 1 1/8 miles, and the Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf, previously run as the Marshua’s River, will be run at 1 1/16 miles.

Korea Racing Authority’s Knicks Go ended 2021 on a four-race win streak, all in graded stakes, including the Whitney (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). Winner of the 2020 Dirt Mile, he began last year with an emphatic 2 3/4-length triumph in the Pegasus World Cup and is seeking to become its first repeat champion.

Also among invitees to the Pegasus World Cup from the barn of trainer Brad Cox are Concert Tour and Mandaloun.

Gary and Mary West homebred Concert Tour won the San Vicente (G2) and Rebel (G2) in 2021 but has not raced since finishing ninth in the Preakness (G1), all for previous trainer Bob Baffert.

Juddmonte homebred Mandaloun ran second to Medina Spirit in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and is also coming off a layoff following his triumph in the Haskell (G1). Cox told Horse Racing Nation Sunday that Mandaloun's next start will be in the Jan. 22 Louisiana Stakes at Fair Grounds.

WinStar Farm and CHC Inc.’s Life Is Good was dominant in a front-running 5 3/4-length victory in the Dirt Mile Nov. 6 at Del Mar, his fifth win from six career starts and first Grade 1 after triumphs in the Kelso (G2), San Felipe (G2) and Sham (G3) last year. He has been breezing regularly since mid-December in South Florida for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher.

“Life Is Good we’ve been pointing for the Pegasus since the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. He got a short freshening at WinStar and he’s come in with that as our goal,” Pletcher said. “Everything has gone according to plan. He’s never run at Gulfstream, but he’s the kind of horse where his style should suit Gulfstream well.”

Other Pletcher-trained horses on the Pegasus World Cup invite list are Dr Post, Fearless and Happy Saver.

St. Elias Stable’s Dr Post is a two-time Grade 3 winner who is 2-0 at Gulfstream, including the 2020 Unbridled; Repole Stable’s Fearless exits a victory in Gulfstream’s Harlan’s Holiday (G3) Dec. 18; and Wertheimer and Frere homebred Happy Saver won the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) as a 3-year-old in 2020 then ran second in defense of his title as well as the Nov. 24 Clark (G1). The $150,000 Fred W. Hooper (G3) for 4-year-olds and up going one mile on the main track as part of the undercard is also an alternative.

“Not sure who else we could potentially have for it. We’re kind of waiting to see how Dr Post and Happy Saver and Fearless train. We also have the mile race that day on the dirt as an option for those horses,” Pletcher said. “We’re also considering maybe Happy Saver going to Saudi, so we’re just kind of, as always, seeing how everyone’s training and how they’re coming up to these.”

Undefeated Malibu (G1) winner Flightline, trainer by John Sadler, has raced only three times but has won those races by a combined 37 1/2 lengths while being hand ridden to the finish line in each. Sadler has not announced any plans for Flightline’s next race, but he told HRN that it probably would be in March or April.

Completing the Pegasus World Cup invitations are 2019 American Pharoah (G1) winner Eight Rings; multiple graded-stakes winner Express Train; 2021 Pat O’Brien (G2) winner Ginobili; millionaire 2021 Lecomte (G3) winner Midnight Bourbon; 2019 Belmont (G1) winner Sir Winston and 2021 Arkansas Derby (G1) winner Super Stock.

Concert Tour, Endorsed and Fearless are among the invitees on the also-eligible list, along with Chess Chief, Officiating, Stilleto Boy and Title Ready.

 

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