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2017 Pegasus World Cup tips - The expert guide to the Gulfstream Park Grade One highlight

Jonathan Vine 24 Jan 2017

Gulfstream Park has hosted many top-quality Stakes contests over the years, but the Pegasus World Cup is easily one of the most highly anticipated races ever to be staged on the Florida coast. 

The Pegasus World Cup Invitational is a brand new invention on the American Thoroughbred Racing calendar. It’s the brain-child of Frank Stronach, who wanted a race to rival the Dubai World Cup after Breeders’ Cup proceedings had come to an end. 

After months of preparation, Florida’s premier racecourse will witness some of the best dirt mile sprinters descend on their historic racecourse and battle it out for the lion’s share of the $12m prize pot – making the Pegasus World Cup the most lucrative horse race in the entire world.

It’s only fitting that the first ever running of this sensational contests, will see the two best sprinters in America go head-to-head once again – as the great California Chrome (5/4 bet365) looks for revenge, after young upstart Arrogate (11/10 SkyBet) consigned him to second place in Breeders’ Cup Classic in November.

California Chrome was the odds-on favourite for title that day at Santa Anita, with 7/4 shot Arrogate coming into the race on the back of an incredible 13 length victory in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga earlier in the summer. From a favourable inside draw, the favourite got off to a flying start, leading from the front at a frightening pace. Arrogate started well from an outside gate, positioning himself handily on the shoulder of the leaders in third place.

Rounding the final bend, California Chrome set off for home, bolting away from the pack. Arrogate ducked inside the second placed horse and set off in pursuit. With only a few hundred yards to go, Arrogate had pulled upsides the leader and there was nothing Victor Espinoza could do to stop Mike Smith and his four-year-old mount sailing clear to capture the Breeders’ Cup Classic title.

The duo entered the betting for the Pegasus World Cup around the same 5/4 mark, but after California Chrome was handed a horrible draw out in Lane 12, Arrogate has come in to around even-money with most bookmakers. 

“Oh Gosh, here we go again!”, exclaimed Art Sherman, California Chrome’s trainer, as the draw was announced. He knows his charge will have his work cut out from such a wide position on the track, but he also knows his seven-year-old – who has earned him almost $15m in prize money over the last four years – is more than capable of putting in another terrific performance.

Arrogate was drawn into Lane 1, the same lane he leapt out of when securing that emphatic win in the Travers Stakes and his trainer, Bob Baffert will be expecting a similarly convincing performance from his young champion once again.

Arrogate wins the Travers Stakes

Closest to the dynamic leading duo in the current betting is Noble Bird (25/1 SkyBet), who was last seen finishing seventh behind Gun Runner in a Grade 1 three-year-old contest at Churchill Downs. Breaking Lucky (40/1 Ladbrokes) and Shaman Ghost (33/1 bet365) were the second and third placed horses in that Grade 1 and have also been handed invitations into this contest, yet both sit someway behind Noble Bird in the Pegasus World Cup betting. 

Neolithic (25/1 SkyBet) finished second on three of his four starts last year, with only one of those runs coming in a Graded Stakes contest. Keen Ice (33/1 Ladbrokes) was a losing 8/5 favourite here at Gulfstream Park in December, but he was the best-of-the-rest in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, trailing home third as a 50/1 shot. War Envoy (250/1 Ladbrokes) came to Ascot in July and landed the Britannia Stakes, but he hasn’t managed to repeat that winning performance in three outings since. War Story (125/1 bet365) was a distant eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, while Semper Fortis (200/1 Ladbrokes) and Prayer For Relief (250/1 SkyBet) don’t look to have a chance of doing any damage whatsoever. 

The one from the chasing pack who stands out most is Argentinian raider Eragon (100/1 Ladbrokes), who has landed two Grade 1 prizes over eight furlongs in his homeland – finishing a close second on his only other outing of 2016. He looks to be an ideal candidate for an each-way punt, but the winner of this race will undoubtedly come from the top two in the betting.

It would be a wonderful fairy-tale ending for California Chrome – who will be retired after this race on Saturday – if he could scale the mountain ahead of him and land this mammoth prize. But Bob Baffert’s four-year-old is an unbelievable equine specimen and following that slice of luck in the draw, he will show no sentiment towards his rival.

Such is the quality of California Chrome, he’s sure to make it another thrilling battle between the two on Saturday - but Arrogate has youth and a favourable draw on his side and the world will look on as he seals victory in the inaugural running of the Pegasus World Cup.

28/1/2017 12:00 Gulfstream Park selectionARROGATE (11/10 SkyBet)

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2017 Pegasus World Cup tips - The expert guide to the Gulfstream Park Grade One highlight

Gulfstream Park has hosted many top-quality Stakes contests over the years, but the Pegasus World Cup is easily one of the most highly anticipated races ever to be staged on the Florida coast.

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