TVG Expert: Christina Blacker
Thankfully I am writing this blog to you as of Friday morning because Thursday completely changed the 2020 Pegasus World Cup Invitational. At about midday on Thursday we learned that morning line favorite Omaha Beach would scratch from the race due to some slight swelling found in his right hind ankle. Omaha Beach is now officially retired and will move on to his second career at stud at Spendthrift Farm. We also learned that Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Spun to Run would scratch owing to a case of skin disease. He has been battling the minor condition for a few weeks now but just simply isn’t 100%, and thus will sit this one out and find a new target for 2020.
So now what?
After reexamining this race, I have landed on #6 HIGHER POWER as my top selection. What I like most about him is the fact that he has had a brief rest from his last effort in the Breeders’ Cup Classic until now. I find that John Sadler’s horses run some of their best efforts when he spaces their races out in this manner. Higher Power has some of the fastest Thorograph figures of the field and is capable of running a big race off this type of brief layoff. He is also training very well if you have had a chance to see any of his workout videos online. His versatility has also drawn me to him. I think he will sit the perfect trip just off the early speed. At just 898 feet, Gulfstream Park has one of the shortest stretches in America, it can be very difficult to win from too far out of it. I give #10 MUCHO GUSTO a look as well but as we have turned the calendar year this is the first time he is testing his talents outside of age restricted races. Bottom line, he needs to run back to his Travers figures or faster to win on Saturday.
My “Money Back Special” play will be #2 TAX. Tax seems to be thriving right now. His recent effort in the Discovery at the end of November suggests an improving pattern. One of my favorite handicapping angles is the “improving four-year-old” and it seems Tax indicated that this applies to him with that last race. Trainer Danny Gargan also told me this week that Tax is thriving in South Florida and looks better than ever in the mornings. Additionally, a very key element to the PWCI this year is the fact that it will be run entirely medication free. This is an extreme factor that you simply cannot handicap for because there is no guarantee as to how any of the horses will perform without lasix. However, Tax ran twice without lasix and he performed well on each of those occasions.
I’ll give a longshot look to #1 TRUE TIMBER. True Timber has run some fast speed figures around one turn but his pedigree indicates that he could be best going longer. The only time he raced beyond a mile was in this race last year but he never seemed to get a hold of the sloppy track that day. True Timber is a classy horse who deserves another shot to show what he can do around two turns.
Good luck on the 12 race program, it is setting up to be a wonderful day of racing!
#6 HIGHER POWER
Money Back Special Pick:
#1 TRUE TIMBER
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