2022 Pegasus World Cup Profiles

Profiles of the nine horses entered for the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. The profiles were compiled by usracing.com contributors Ed McNamara, Jenny Kellner, Margaret Ransom and Ray Wallin.


By Ed McNamara

Knicks Go – Photo courtesy of Derbe Glass

A thoroughbred’s greatest weapon is early speed, which this flashy front-runner flaunted in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He blew open the race immediately, blasting a quarter-mile in 45 3/5 seconds while daring his overmatched opponents to keep up. Nobody could, and the gray streak was long gone. He had never run 1 1/4 miles before, but it didn’t matter.

Knicks Go coasted by 2 3/4 lengths and locked up the Horse of the Year title. He couldn’t have been more impressive.

“Going the opening quarter in under 46 was maybe a little bit much, but the way he was doing it,” trainer Brad Cox said. “I felt very comfortable that we were in a good spot.”

That was the understatement of 2021, and Knicks Go’s $8.40 win price was the steal of the year. His stablemate Elusive Quality was bet down to 9-5 but finished third after never making a move.

The Pegasus World Cup’s defending champion will go for an encore on Saturday (Jan. 29) at Gulfstream Park in his career finale.

“It’s kind of weird, knowing this is going to be his last run,” Cox said. “It’s going to be bittersweet, but we’re excited.”

The horse with the best chance to upset him is the speedy Life Is Good, who’s a neck from being perfect in five career starts. He’s won twice around two turns but never has tried the Pegasus distance of 1 1/8 miles. Knicks Go is 4-for-5 at 9 furlongs, including a 2 3/4-length romp in the Pegasus.

“He’s delivered in a big way over the last two years,” Cox said. “And hopefully it will be icing on the cake in the Pegasus.”

Betting advice: If you don’t mind betting a lot to win a little, play Knicks Go to win only. Not much value, but if he’s himself, not much risk, either.

Post position: 1

Odds: 6-5 (6-5 BUSR odds)

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Trainer: Brad Cox

Owner: Korea Racing Authority

Age: 6

Career record: 24-10-3-1

Career earnings: $8,673,135

Top Equibase speed figure: 118

Pedigree: Paynter-Kosmo’s Buddy, by Outflanker

Color: Gray/roan

Running style: Front-runner

Notes: Knicks Go turned in a 5-furlong work in 1:00.40 at the Fair Grounds on Sunday (Jan. 23) with exercise rider Edvin Vargas aboard – his final of eight workouts since winning the BC Classic on Nov. 6. It was the fastest of 57 at the distance. Said Cox: “He breezed good and we’re really happy with him.” … All but one of Knicks Go’s 10 wins was around two turns … His 5-for-7 season and Elusive Quality’s victories in the Belmont Stakes and the Travers make Cox the favorite to repeat as the Eclipse Award winner. Knicks Go’s rider, Joel Rosario, is expected to get his first Eclipse … The name Knicks Go has nothing to do with the NBA team. K-Nicks is a breeding program used by the horse’s owner, the Korea Racing Authority.


By Ed McNamara

Chess Chief – Photo courtesy of Jim Dandy S. / Saratoga

This 6-year-old Virginia-bred is the ultimate horse for course — 5-for-10 at the Fair Grounds, 0-for-20 everywhere else. Unfortunately for him, the Pegasus is run at Gulfstream Park.

Although Chess Chief is 4-for-12 at the Pegasus’ distance of 1 1/8 miles, he’s 1-for-14 in graded stakes. His late-running style also goes against the grain of Gulfstream’s speed-favoring main track. Chess Chief’s only meeting with Pegasus favorite Knicks Go was a dud last October in the Grade 3 Lukas Classic at Churchill Downs. He finished fifth, 14 lengths behind, at 44-1 odds and received the chart comment “Never involved.”

Trainer Dallas Stewart loves to take on big challenges, as he did early in Chess Chief’s career. After coming in eighth and sixth in his first two starts, his next race was the Grade 2 Blue Grass, in which he ran a respectable fifth.

The durable son of standout sire Into Mischief has been an excellent money maker, banking more than $800,000. He’ll probably add to that from the Pegasus‘ total purse of $4 million. However, believing he can catch Knicks Go and Life Is Good is delusional. The prediction: He’ll be far back early, and his best-case scenario is to plod up for fourth, which would count as a win for him.

Betting advice: If you’re a fan of late-running long shots, use him third in trifectas, third and fourth in superfectas, and root hard for a suicidal pace.

Post position: 2

Odds: 10-1 (12-1 BUSR odds)

Jockey: Reylu Gutierrez

Trainer: Dallas Stewart

Owner: Estate of James J. Coleman, Jr.

Age: 6

Career record: 30-5-4-4

Career earnings: $810,338

Top Equibase speed figure: 108

Pedigree: Into Mischief-Un Blessed, by Mineshaft

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notes: Chess Chief’s last race was a nose victory in an ungraded $100,000 stakes at the Fair Grounds. Finishing second was Happy American, who’s still a maiden after seven starts … Stewart, a former assistant to D. Wayne Lukas, won the Breeders’ Cup Distaff with Unbridled Elaine (2001) and Forever Unbridled (2017). He also trained 2006 Kentucky Oaks winner Lemons Forever, who paid a race-record $96.20.


By Margaret Ransom

Stilleto Boy – Photo Courtesy of Coady Photography

Stilleto Boy has been knocking on the door to gain entrance into the big kids’ club for the better part of the last six months. He’ll get another chance in the Pegasus World Cup.

The 4-year-old gelding, a son of 2011 Preakness winner Shackleford, won the Grade 3 Iowa Derby and ran second in the Grade 1 Awesome Again and third in the Grade 1 Malibu last time out.

When he took on the top horses in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 6, he was a non-threatening fifth of eight, 13 ½ lengths behind the winner Knicks Go, the favorite in Saturday’s Pegasus.

Running third in the Malibu could be deceptive since it was Flightline winning by 11 ½ lengths, with Stilleto Boy a length behind runner-up Baby Yoda. We don’t know how good Flightline can be at this point, so on paper the loss was unlikely due to a poor effort. Possibly, a repeat of his Malibu effort could produce a decent payday at a better distance for him going around two turns.

With options of earning an invite to both the $20 million Saudi Cup next month and the $10 million Dubai World Cup in the next few months, the Pegasus is a good race to open his 4-year-old campaign.

Betting advice: This could be a tough spot for a front-runner that has to try to keep pace with the favorites Knicks Go and Life Is Good. May have enough to get a piece of the pie (fourth is worth $145,000).

Post position: 3

Odds: 20-1 (20-1 BUSR odds)

Jockey: Kent Desormeaux

Trainer: Ed Moger, Jr.

Owner: Steve Moger

Career record: 12-2-3-4

Career earnings: $540,675

Top Equibase speed figure: 106

Pedigree: Shackleford-Rosie’s Ransom, by Marquetry

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Front-runner/stalker

Notes: Owner Steve Moger, who is trainer Ed Moger Jr.’s brother, paid $420,000 for the then 3-year-old gelding at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July selected horses of racing age sale last year… This will be a first starter for both owner and trainer in the race… Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux has won just about every major stakes event in his career but will be riding in his first Pegasus World Cup.


By Jenny Kellner

Life is Good – Photo courtesy of Sonny Hughes

Once the early favorite for the last year’s Kentucky Derby, Life Is Good shook off any vestiges of a hind ankle injury with powerhouse wins in the Kelso (G2) and the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) to emerge as the most serious threat to dethrone 2021 winner Knicks Go in the 1 1/8-mile Pegasus World Cup Invitational.

Favored in each of his six career starts, Life Is Good has been headed but once, that coming in the final yards of the H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1) at Saratoga Race Course in his return to racing. Whether it was the nearly six-month long layoff or an overly confident ride from Hall of Famer Mike Smith, Life Is Good re-rallied belatedly only to finish a neck behind Jackie’s Warrior in the 7-furlong race.

Facing older horses at a flat mile in his next two starts, Life Is Good gave every indication an extra furlong would be well within his scope as he rolled to a 5 ¾-length win in the Kelso and a visually similar 5 ½-length score in the BC Dirt Mile.

In his first three starts, the Into Mischief gelding was 3-for-3 for Hall of Famer Bob Baffert in California, breaking his maiden at Del Mar and winning the Sham (G3) and San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita Park. After surgery to remove the ankle chip, he returned to training on June 24, when WinStar president/CEO and racing manager Elliott Walden announced Life Is Good would be moved to Pletcher from Baffert, then banned from racing in Kentucky and New York.

Betting advice: Should be up front in the stretch run and could pull off the victory if he can carry his speed 1 1/8 miles.

Post position: 4

Odds: 7-5 (13-10 BUSR odds)

Jockey: Irad Ortiz, Jr.

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: CHC Inc., WinStar Farm

Career record: 6-5-1-0

Career earnings: $1,059,200

Top Equibase speed figure: 120

Pedigree: Into Mischief-Beach Walk, by Distorted Humor

Age: 4

Color: Bay

Running style: Front-runner

Notes: Although he has never raced in Florida, Life Is Good has been stabled at Palm Meadows Downs since mid-December and has been working steadily towards his 4-year-old debut. On Jan. 15, the Into Mischief gelding breezed 5 furlongs in 1:00.36 and left trainer Todd Pletcher impressed. “He seems to be every bit as good or better than he was going into the Breeders’ Cup.”


By Jenny Kellner

Empty Tomb – Photo curtesy of Lauren King

He’s in and he’s ready to run with the fastest horses in the land as a longshot in the Pegasus World Cup. Good luck with that.

Empty Tomb is one of the seven double-digit odds horses taking on speedballs and favorites Knicks Go and Life Is Good in the fifth running of the Pegasus.

It didn’t take much thought for owner John Grossi and trainer Robert Falcone, Jr., to make the decision to run – they were recruited by Gulfstream Park officials.

The 6-year-old was claimed last summer at Saratoga for $80,000. He finished last in stakes races at Belmont and Parx, but won an allowance race at Aqueduct in November, and ran second in the Queens County. His running style is similar to the favorites, so he’ll have a rugged road ahead.

But with a field of nine entered, third place is worth a few hundred thousand dollars, and fourth is worth over $100,000.

“Even though it looks like everyone else, including us, is running for third-place honors, we’ll take a shot as long as the horse is doing good, which he is,’’ Falcone told drf.com.

Betting advice: Can he finish in the top 5 and a decent check? Don’t think so. His front-running style cannot keep pace with Knicks Go and Life Is Good.

Post position: 5

Odds: 20-1 (33-1 BUSR odds)

Jockey: Paco Lopez

Trainer: Robert N. Falcone

Owner: John Grossi’s Racing Corp.

Age: 6

Career record: 24-5-5-5

Career earnings: $356,306

Top Equibase speed figure: 113

Pedigree: Speightstown-Sure Peg, by Arch

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Front-runner/stalker

Notes: Worked 4 furlongs in 49.97 at Belmont on Jan. 22, fifth fastest of 57 at the distance … Was set run in last week’s $100,000 Jazil Stakes at the Big A, but was scratched after the invite to run in a $3 million race.


By Ray Wallin

Sir Winston – Photo courtesy of Skip Dickstein / Tim Lanahan / BloodHorse

The upset winner of the 2019 Belmont Stakes, Sir Winston finds himself in the best form of his career as he starts his 6-year-old campaign.

While beaten Belmont favorite Tacitus got some revenge the following year in the Suburban, this son of Awesome Again looks to dial back the distance to try to win at 1 1 /8 miles.

Sir Winston finally gets his shot at the Pegasus after an injury to his left ankle in 2019 derailed trainer Mark Casse’s plans for him. His return to the races as a prep in the Woodchopper Stakes at the Fair Grounds resulted in a last place finish in a field of 12.

Casse shipped him down to Palm Meadows where he has been working forwardly after finishing his 2021 campaign on a high note at Woodbine with a win in the Valedictory at 1 ½ miles.

“He’s been training well. His breeze this morning was very good,” Casse said after Sir Winston worked 5 furlongs in 1:02.30 last week.

While four of Sir Winston’s six career wins have come over an all-weather surface at Woodbine, the other two victories tell a different story. Besides the 1 1/2-mile win in the Belmont, he notched a gutsy closing win in an allowance optional claiming race at Aqueduct going a one-turn mile.

Sir Winston’s apparent preference for the synthetic surface doesn’t deter Casse. “He’s a pretty good horse. If he can have the same type of form on dirt that he does on the synthetic, he’ll be a force.”

Betting advice: The best opportunity for Sir Winston is if Knicks Go and Life Is Good lock up in a duel on the front end. He is better suited for longer distances but is in the best form of his career. Expect him to be a factor late and don’t dismiss him on the bottom of your exotic wagers.

Post position: 6

Odds: 12-1 (12-1 BUSR odds)

Jockey: Edwin Gonzalez

Trainer: Mark Casse

Owner: Tracy Farmer

Career record: 19-6-4-1

Career earnings: $1,189,873

Top Equibase speed figure: 109

Pedigree: Awesome Again-La Gran Bailadora, by Afleet Alex

Age: 6

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Presser/stalker

Notes: Sir Winston has gotten better with age. He has finished first or second in his last four starts, including a win in the Grade 3 Valedictory at Woodbine after a year off. He looks to build off four straight races with an Equibase speed figure over 100.


By Ed McNamara

Title Ready – Photo courtesy of Lauren King

Most handicappers will need only a quick glance at this 7-year-old’s past performances before tossing him out. He’s lost seven of his last eight races, with the victory coming last January in the Fair Grounds’ Grade 3 Louisiana Stakes. That’s his only graded-stakes win in 11 tries.

Trainer Dallas Stewart likes to aim high, so he sent Title Ready to the 2021 Dubai World Cup (11th), 2020 Clark Stakes (10th) and 2020 Breeders’ Cup Classic (seventh). There’s no reason to believe he’ll do any better against superstars Knicks Go and Life Is Good. If Title Ready plods up for fifth or sixth in the Pegasus, he’ll add to owner Charles Fipke’s account, but he won’t do the bettors any good.

Betting advice: I wouldn’t put a dime on this guy, who’s in way over his head.

Post position: 7

Odds: 20-1 (20-1 BUSR odds)

Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione

Trainer: Dallas Stewart

Owner: Charles E. Fipke

Age: 7

Career record: 28-5-6-5

Career earnings: $673,480

Top Equibase speed figure: 114

Pedigree: More Than Ready-Title Seeker, by Monarchos

Color: Dark bay

Running style: Mid-pack stalker/closer

Notes: Stewart, a 62-year-old native of Mississippi, is a bright, personable guy with a good sense of humor. He’s made numerous splashes in the Triple Crown without ever winning. He ran second with Kentucky Derby longshots Golden Soul (34-1, 2013) and Commanding Curve (37-1, 2014). He also completed the Preakness exacta with Macho Again (39-1, 2008) and Tale of Verve (28-1, 2015). If you wheeled those four under favorites Orb, California Chrome, Big Brown and American Pharoah, you struck gold and blessed Stewart’s name … His specialty is preparing closers with distance pedigrees to peak at 1 1/8 and 1 1/4 miles. Many of his 2-year-olds find their early races too short to do their best.


By Jenny Kellner

Endorsed – Photo courtesy of Zoe Metz / BloodHorse

How does a horse with a 15-race losing streak get invited to a $3 million race?

Maybe because Endorsed flashed some promising form way back when he was a 3-year-old. However, it seems a second-place finish in the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector last out at Gulfstream on Dec. 11 was enough, what with some other much better older horses choosing not to take on favorites Knicks Go and Life Is Good – and point toward next month’s $20 million Saudi Cup.

Endorsed was 0-for-10 in 2021, and has two top 3 finishes in the nine graded stakes he’s run in. He has a maiden win in his first career start, an allowance win and two allowance optional claiming wins.

Betting advice: Hard to figure this horse has any chance. A better bet is that he’ll be 0-for-16 and not in the top 5.

Post position: 8

Odds: 20-1 (25-1 BUSR odds)

Jockey: Umberto Rispoli

Trainer: Mike Maker

Owner: Mark D. Breen

Age: 6

Career record: 23-4-6-4

Career earnings: $474,975

Top Equibase speed figure: 106

Pedigree: Medaglia d’Oro-Dance Card, by Tapit

Color: Bay

Running style: Mid-pack

Notes: Worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.17 at Gulfstream on Jan. 23, 11th fastest of 41 at the distance.


By Ray Wallin

Commandeer – Palm Meadows Training Center – Photo courtesy of Dana Wimpfheimer / BloodHorse

This Godolphin bred gelding drew into the Pegasus field as the longest shot on the board for his first try against stakes company after clearing the non-winners of two hurdle in his last effort over a sloppy Churchill track.

All three of his wins have come against an early pace that has been contested and fallen apart. Commandeer has won his last two since coming off a four-month layoff.

A son of Street Boss, whose progeny typically top out at a mile and a sixteenth, does have a Tiznow influence on his dam’s side. This suggests that Commandeer should be able to handle the nine furlongs here.

Trainer Jimmy Toner has Commandeer at the top of his form. Since his last allowance win, he has notched five workouts over the Palm Meadows surface including a bullet work on Jan. 23, breezing 5 furlongs in 59.3 seconds in his final prep for the Pegasus.

Betting advice: While not a candidate to win, his best opportunity to be a factor here is if there is a hot and contested early pace between Knicks Go and Life Is Good. His late kick from off the pace should not be ignored for the bottom of your exotic wagers.

Post position: 9

Odds: 30-1 (50-1 BUSR odds)

Jockey: Julien Leparoux

Trainer: Jimmy Toner

Owner: AJ Suited Racing Stable, LLC

Career record: 10-3-2-2

Career earnings: $142,114

Top Equibase speed figure: 99

Pedigree: Street Boss-Gozlan, by Tiznow

Age: 4

Color: Bay

Running style: Presser/stalker

Notes: Commandeer is Toner’s first Pegasus World Cup starter … Leparoux is the 10th jockey to ride this gelding, who is making his 11th career start at his seventh different track.