Horse racing in the US today remains a hugely popular betting medium, with over $10 billion wagered on US horse racing in 2020.
The Triple Crown races – Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont Stakes – as well as the Breeders’ Cup all attract huge audiences and attention on an international scale and are the biggest betting heats.
However, in recent years one race can be added to that list – The Pegasus World Cup. Here we look at the race in detail and how to approach it from a betting perspective.
The Pegasus World Cup is a Grade 1 stakes race run over one mile two furlongs on dirt at Gulfstream Park, Florida in January each year.
As there is currently no horse betting odds market for the 2022 Pegasus World Cup, only a few possible contenders can be suggested at this stage.
It is worth noting that four of the last five winners of the Pegasus World Cup have won either the Breeders’ Cup Classic or the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on their last start.
The outcome of both those races in early November will have a big influence on who becomes favourite for the sixth Pegasus World Cup in January 2022.
Knicks Go – 2021 Pegasus winner, Knicks Go currently heads the Breeders’ Cup Classic betting market and were he to win that race at Del Mar then he would be a short-priced favourite for a second success at Gulfstream Park.
Essential Quality – This season’s Kentucky Derby fourth and Belmont Stakes winner showed great battling qualities when winning the Grade 1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga in August and is second-favourite for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Medina Spirit – This season’s Kentucky Derby winner could only manage third in the Preakness Stakes but has looked impressive in two starts since, the latest when winning by over five lengths at Santa Anita.
He is the third favourite in the Breeders’ Cup Market and with his trainer, Bob Baffert has won the Pegasus on two previous occasions there is a good chance he could head to Gulfstream Park in January.
Life Is Good – Clear favourite in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile market is Life Is Good, a horse that is three from four in his career so far.
On his first two starts, he beat then stablemate Medina Spirit with ease, but after a switch to trainer Todd Pletcher, he was narrowly beaten in August, before getting back on track with a comfortable win at Belmont Park last time.
A good win in the Dirt Mile at Del Mar would see him among the Pegasus favourites.
Hot Rod Charlie – Not beaten far when finishing in the frame in both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, Doug O’Neill’s horse has looked better than ever since. The last time out he beat a strong rival to win the Pennsylvania Derby and he could be an interesting outsider come January.
The race was first run in January 2017, and at the time held a purse of $12 million, meaning it surpassed the Dubai World Cup as the richest race on the planet.
That year Arrogate strode to victory, following up his Breeders’ Cup Classic success from two months earlier. After his win in the Pegasus, Arrogate went on to land the Dubai World Cup in March of that year, a feat that proved the new Pegasus World Cup’s ideal positioning in the international racing calendar.
The purse rose to $16 million in 2018 but has since been reduced to $3 million, with the prize money being spread across other races at the same meeting.
The Pegasus World Cup holds Group 1 status meaning it is not a handicap, and so one of the best ways of finding value in the market is to look at past trends.
While the Pegasus World Cup is a new race in the US calendar, it is notable that four of the five renewals have been won by horses that had won at the Breeders’ Cup meeting on their previous start.
Two of those – Arrogate and Gun Runner – had won the Breeders’ Cup Classic and two – City Of Light and Knicks Go – the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
They look at the key form races to assess before having a bet in the Pegasus World Cup.
In four of the five Pegasus World Cup held so far, there have been 12 runners and on one other occasion, 10 went to post.
In those five races horses that were drawn in stalls 1 to 5 finished in the first three home 60 per cent of the time. This highlights the importance of a low draw and inside run in the Pegasus.
If a horse is drawn wide unless they have very quick breaking speed from the stalls, it’s likely they will find themselves on the outside of the field and covering more ground, as well as a kickback, than those from lower stall numbers.
In 2018 Gun Runner defied this bias after displaying exceptional early speed from stall 10, which left him in second place around the first turn.
As there is such a strong form line between the Breeders’ Cup and the Pegasus World Cup, horses that have won at the earlier meeting and take their chance at Gulfstream Park often dominate the betting market as short-priced favourites.
In the last five years, three favourites have emerged victorious at prices of 9/10, 11/10 and 13/10. The other two winners returned at no bigger than 17/5.
However, rather than backing these types of favourites at short odds or trying to get them beat by backing something else, you could always look at the place market.
In the last few years, this looks to be where the value has been in the Pegasus betting market, as horses have been placed at odds of around 34/1, 28/1, 23/1, 20/1, 16/1, 14/1 and 12/1.
While the odds of these runners to place (rather than win) would have been significantly less than those above, a bet placed on them would still have returned more than a win bet on the favourite.
In only five renewals, the Pegasus World Cup has seen several impressive performances from some brilliant racehorses.
Arrogate ensured the first inaugural running attracted plenty of attention. Bob Baffert’s mighty grey was sent off as the 9-10 favourite and there looked to be only one possible outcome as he cruised up on the outside of pacesetter Neolithic on the home turn.
From there it was only a case of rider Mike Smith pushing Arrogate out to the line, to score by the best part of five lengths.
In 2018, Steven Asmussen’s Gun Runner was given a textbook ride from Florent Geroux as he burst from the stalls from wide draw in 10 to sit on the quarters of the leader.
He eased to the front before the home turn, before showing great tenacity to hold off the challenge of Bob Baffert’s West Coast in the straight. As Arrogate had done a year earlier, Gun Runner backed up a win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, and was then retired to stud.
A year later the conditions at Gulfstream were sloppy after heavy rain, but that proved a little deterrent to the City Of Light, whose silks remained clean as he was given a prominent ride before storming clear in the straight.
Michael McCarthy’s runner had won the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on his previous start and in the Pegasus got the better of Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and favourite Accelerate.
Mucho Gusto provided Bob Baffert with his second Pegasus World Cup winner in 2020 when winning under Irad Ortiz Jr. Owned by Saudi Prince Faisal Bin Khaled, he then went on to finish fourth in the first running of the Saudi Cup, the newly established richest race in the world.
Knicks Go was to finish in the same position in the Saudi Cup a year later, after claiming victory in the Pegasus of 2021. The Brad Cox trained colt made all the running under Joel Rosario and never looked like being caught on the front end as he was eased down at the finish to win by over two lengths.
For any horse race, the type of bet you place is an important consideration. This is because every race market is different, due to the number of horses running and the odds of those horses.
Knowing the best bet to place in different circumstances can improve your chance of winning.
Here are a few common horse racing bets.
A bet placed on one horse in a race. There are different types of straight bet: win, place, and each-way bets.
There are two types of forecasts: a straight forecast and a reverse forecast. With a straight forecast, you select two horses to finish first and second in a race.
They must finish in the correct order to win the bet. With a reverse forecast, the two horses can finish in any order.
There are also straight and reverse tricasts. A straight tricast challenges you to predict the first three horses in a race in the correct order. A reverse tricast means your three selections can finish in any order.