(Knicks Go / Photos by Holly M. Smith)
From the Gulfstream Park Media Team:
Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) winner and defending Pegasus World Cup (G1) champ Knicks Go could cap his brilliant career in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup on Jan. 29 at Gulfstream Park.
The Pegasus may turn into a showdown between two of the standouts of the 38th Breeders’ Cup, Knicks Go, the likely 2021 Horse of the Year, who won the Classic by 2 ¾ lengths, and Life Is Good, who cruised to a 5 ¾ length victory in the Dirt Mile (G1).
Trainer Brad Cox said Sunday morning at Del Mar Racetrack that the Korea Racing Association star was a possibility for the Pegasus before heading off to start his stud career at Taylor Made Farm. Knick’s Go won the Classic
“If he comes out of it good and he trains well, we’ll point for the Pegasus,” Cox said. “It’s a good purse, it’s a surface he likes and if he’s doing well, there have been horses that won the Breeders’ Cup and ended their careers with that, between the likes of Gun Runner and City of Light. It’s always a nice race that you can pick off hopefully before going off to stud.”
Knicks Go kicked off a superb 2021 season with a 2 ¾ length gate-to-wire score in the Pegasus World Cup. He won five of seven starts during the season and has 10 wins from 24 career starts.
Life Is Good was knocked off the Triple Crown trail in March when a bone chip was found in his left rear ankle. The chip was removed by surgery and during his recovery he was transferred from Bob Baffert in California to Todd Pletcher in New York. Life Is Good was a narrow second in his comeback race, the seven-furlong H. Allen Jerkens Memorial (G1) at Saratoga and won the one-mile Kelso Handicap (G2) by 5 ½ lengths Belmont Park on Sept. 25. The Dirt Mile was his return to two-turn racing and should set him up for Gulfstream’s big race.
“That’s what we’d spoke about prior to the race that our sort of two-race plan was the mile and then stretch him out further in the Pegasus,” Pletcher said Sunday. “He certainly ran well enough to proceed in that direction if everything goes smoothly, but we haven’t really had any time to really firmly discuss our entire plans yet. I’m sure once everybody gets back to their headquarters, we’ll have that conversation.”
Life is Good came into the Breeders’ Cup with a big reputation and he delivered a strong performance, leading from gate to wire under Irad Ortiz, Jr. He completed the mile in 1:34.12 after opening fractions of :21.66, :44.94 and 1:08.76.
“It was everything that we were hoping for and then maybe even more,” Pletcher said. “The horse had trained spectacularly coming into the race and I felt like he was sitting on a big race. When he broke cleanly, you could tell they were going quickly and there was some other horses trying to be involved. My first concern was just, hopefully, he hadn’t gone too fast, but it seemed like he was relaxed and settled. In spite of the fact that he was rolling right along, he was doing it comfortably.
“I think that’s kind of what we’ve come to expect from him. It’s one of those horses that’s extremely fast, has a very high cruising speed and the ability to continue doing it. What was even more impressive to me than the :21 and four and 44 and change and 1:08 and change, is that he essentially won geared down. Then Irad had to reach up and grab a hold of him in the middle of the turn. Galloping out, he was still full of horse. I don’t think he could have been any more impressive.”
Trainer Bob Baffert said Sunday that Classic runner-up Medina Spirit is a possibility for the Pegasus World Cup. He said the primary goal is the Saudi World Cup because the colt’s owner is from Saudi Arabia and that it was too early to decide whether to run at Gulfstream first.