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Gulfstream Park Pegasus
Knicks Go and Life is Good clash in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup. (Photo credit: © Dpselvaggi | Dreamstime.com)

Breeders’ Cup Winners Clash in Pegasus World Cup

A pair of Breeders’ Cup winners will clash in Saturday’s $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park.

Defending champ Knicks Go was installed as the 6-5 morning line favorite in a field of nine that will travel 1 1/8 miles on the main track. The Brad Cox trainee won the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) last fall at Del Mar.

His main foe is the Todd Pletcher trained Life Is Good, who is the 7-5 second choice on the morning line. The colt makes his first start since wiring the field in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1).

Knicks Go breaks from the rail under jockey Joel Rosario while Life is Good drew the four post with Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard and it should be a battle from the time the gate opens.

“We’re not really going to deviate from what we’ve done in the past. [Life Is Good] is a very fast, brilliant horse. We’re not going to let him have his own way, and I think he’s probably not going to let us have our own way. We’re going to break running, hopefully get to the lead. We’re going to be very aggressive to get him there,” Cox said.

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The Life is Good team does not appear likely to back down from an early pace duel.

“Speed is our horse’s weapon and we’re not looking to take it away from him,” Pletcher said.  “And I’m sure the Knicks Go team knows what works for their horse. We’ll just see how it plays out.”

The Pegasus World Cup goes off as the last of 12 races on the Saturday card. Post time is 5:34 ET and the race will be televised live on NBC.

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Here is a quick look at the entire field in post position order:

1 Knicks Go   6-5

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

The likely 2021 Horse of the Year, Knicks Go is the defending champ. The six-year-old has won his last four starts, all in gate to wire fashion and a now draws the rail. He is going to face some serious pace pressure up front from Life Is Good. He is proven at the distance and over the surface but his price is going to be on the short side.

2 Chess Chief   10-1

Jockey: Reylu Gutierrez

Trainer: Dallas Stewart

Stewart is known to pull off upsets in big races and this six-year-old comes into this race off a career top effort winning the Tenacious at Fair Grounds. He would benefit from an early speed duel but would need another career best effort to beat both of the favorites in here.

3 Stilleto Boy   20-1

Jockey: Kent Desormeaux

Trainer: Ed Moger Jr.

This gelding was beaten 10 ¼ lengths by Knicks Go when fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The Moger trainee has run second in the Awesome Again (G1) three back at 54-1. He ran into the up-and-coming Flightline last out at seven furlongs and will appreciate the stretch back out to a route.

4 Life Is Good   7-5

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

This colt went from Baffert to Pletcher and did not miss a beat. He earned a career best Beyer Speed Figure wining the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) last out. By the numbers he looks quicker than his main rival early and if he is able to shake loose, he is going to be tough to beat. That is a big if. The main knock is his light price and fact he has not raced farther than a mile in his six race career.

5 Empty Tomb   20-1

Jockey: Paco Lopez

Trainer: Robert Falconer Jr.

He was the pacesetter in the Queen’s County at Aqueduct last out but could not hold off Forward in the stretch. He steps into a much tougher spot and the pace set up does him no favors. Lopez will likely have him sitting in a good spot sitting just off the pace but he just does not look good enough to get anything other than a minor share.

6 Sir Winston   12-1

Jockey: Edwin Gonzalez

Trainer: Mark Casse

The 2019 Belmont Stakes (G1) winner had a rough 2020 campaign but has come back to good form on the Tapeta surface at Woodbine. He has run three sharp races in a row and now returns to conventional dirt. He can handle the distance and will get a good pace set up. He may end up getting bet down below his 12-1 which would mean he is not going to offer much value for the top spot.

7 Title Ready   20-1

Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione

Trainer: Dallas Stewart

This guy has not returned to top form since getting outrun in the Dubai World Cup (G1) last year. He did catch off tracks in his last two outings but will have to make a major jump forward to be in the mix in this spot.

8 Endorsed   20-1

Jockey: Umberto Rispoli

Trainer: Michael Maker

Other than Knicks Go, this guy is the lone other runner in the field with a win over the surface. That win was a second level optional claimer back in January of 2020. His last nine starts have come around one turn, but he has run pretty well at nine furlongs including a runner up finish in the Alydar in August of 2020 at Saratoga. He just looks outclassed here.

9 Commandeer   30-1

Jockey: Julien Leparoux

Trainer: James Toner

This gelding makes his stakes debut here. He has won back to back starts, last out in the slop at Churchill Downs. But this is just a really tough spot here for his first go against stakes company and the outside draw does not help.