Bob Baffert’s takes two of his older mainstays: Mucho Gusto and Charlatan into his bid for a third Pegasus World Cup Invitational title. Those two were among 16 horses earning invites to the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park.
The 1 1/8-mile Pegasus headlines a seven-graded stakes Jan. 23 card at Gulfstream. It ranks as one of the richest races in North America – non-Breeders’ Cup division. The $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf heads a stellar undercard.
Mucho Gusto is your defending Pegasus champion and the horse who gave Baffert his second Pegasus title in four years. Arrogate in 2017 – the race’s inaugural year – brought Baffert his first. In between, Horse of the Year Gun Runner (2017) and Breeders’ Cup Mile winner City of Light (2019) winged their ways to the Pegasus winner’s circle.
Anothertwistoffate Heads Four Also-Eligibles
Gulfstream invited 16 horses, with 12 guaranteed starting gate posts. Four horses: Anothertwistoffate, Math Wizard, King Guillermo and Idol join the also-eligible list in order of preference. Any of those four get in if one of the 12 ahead of them bow out.
Here are the 12 horses given first crack at Pegasus post positions:
- Charlatan (Trained by Bob Baffert): His return after a seven-month, injury break was one of 2020’s best performances: a decisive Malibu Stakes victory complete with a 107 Beyer Speed Figure. He has never been beaten across a finish line in four races.
- Mucho Gusto (Baffert): Your defending champion parlayed his Pegasus win into a solid fourth in the Saudi Cup a month later. Afterward, Baffert gave him four months off and tuned him up with a fourth-place finish in the San Antonio Stakes Dec. 26.
- Knicks Go (Brad Cox): One of 2020’s most dynamic stories comes in off a commanding victory in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. That was his third consecutive victory since moving to Cox’s barn.
- Jesus’ Team (Jose D’Angelo): He’s your feel-good story, a one-time claimer who earned more than $508,940 in his career thus far. He lost by less than a half-length to Knicks Go in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, after finishing third in the Preakness Stakes and Jim Dandy last year.
- Code of Honor (Shug McGaughey): This marks his 13th consecutive start in a graded stakes race and ninth straight in a Grade 1. As a 3-year-old in 2019, Code of Honor officially finished second in the Kentucky Derby, then won the Travers and Jockey Club. At 4, he won the Grade 3 Westchester and finished second in the Clark and Kelso stakes.
- Sharp Samurai (Mark Glatt): He hasn’t won a race since the 2018 Grade 2 City of Hope. But the 7-year-old gelding defines “gritty” with his runner-up finishes in last year’s Pacific Classic, Eddie Read and City of Hope – along with a third in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. Glatt gets to decide where Sharp Samurai runs on Pegasus day, since he was also invited to the Pegasus Turf.
- Tax (Danny Gargan): This 5-year-old gelding seeks a better finish than his ninth-place outing in last year’s Pegasus. He earned his spot after a solid victory in the Grade 3 Harlan’s Holiday at Gulfstream last month. That followed a seven-month layoff.
- Mr. Freeze (Dale Romans): The runner up to Mucho Gusto at last year’s Pegasus won the Grade 2 Fayette Stakes this year. He seeks better form than shown in poor trips in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (sixth) and Grade 1 Clark (fifth) ended his 2020 campaign.
- True Timber (Jack Sisterson): Can the third time be the charm for the seventh-place horse in the 2019 Pegasus and the eighth-place finisher last year? The gutsy 7-year-old captured the Cigar Mile last month at Aqueduct. That earned jockey Kendrick Carmouche his first Grade 1 and True Timber his first victory in 13 starts and 22 months.
- Sleepy Eyes Todd (Miguel Angel Silva): He’s literally run around the US, hitting 11 different tracks in his 15-race career. Sleepy Eyes Todd won eight of those, including the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic in August and the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector Stakes at Gulfstream last month.
- Kiss Today Goodbye (Eric Kruljak): At 15/1, he pulled off the upset in the San Antonio Stakes, closing from last to pass Mucho Gusto and four others in the stretch. This run out of the blue followed also-ran outings in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby (fifth) and the Grade 2 Twilight Derby (fourth).
- Harpers First Ride (Claudio Gonzalez): Maryland represents with this home-bred who won four of his last five starts. That includes the Grade 3 Pimlico Special for Gonzalez, one of Maryland’s top trainers.