HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Knicks Go went to the lead right out of the gate and dared the other 11 runners in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational to catch him.
Nobody came close.
Picking up by far the biggest purse of his career, and doing so with ease, the heavily favored Knicks Go won the fifth running of the Pegasus on Saturday — his fourth consecutive victory, one that pushed his lifetime winnings to about $3 million.
“Great horses do great things,” trainer Brad Cox said. “And he just did something great.”
Jesus’ Team was second and 25-1 long-shot Independence Hall was third. Knicks Go finished the 1 1/8 miles over the dirt at Gulfstream Park in 1:47.89 and paid $4.60, $3.60 and $3.
Jesus’ Team paid $8.60 and $4.80. Independence Hall paid $10 to show.
Knicks Go is owned by the Korea Racing Authority, and the plan is to keep him running throughout the rest of the year — even though his future stud fee surely went up a bit after he added the Pegasus win to a resume that already included last year’s Breeders’ Cup dirt mile victory.
For now, retirement will wait until 2022.
“Outstanding performance. ... We’re honored to be here, to win the race,” said Jun Park, who was at Gulfstream representing the Korea group.
Starting from the No. 4 post, Knicks Go was guided to the rail early by jockey Joel Rosario. Before long, he was in the clear and simply stayed there.
“Joel has a lot of confidence in the horse and the horse has a lot of confidence in him,” Cox said.
Rosario has been aboard Knicks Go in each of his last three wins.
“A very special horse," Rosario said. “He just goes faster and faster. What a training job by Brad Cox, and thank you to the racing authority for the opportunity."
Pegasus Day was a big day for Knicks Go's connections, and also for Gulfstream, which had horseplayers trackside for the first time in more than 10 months. Pegasus Day always brings out celebrities as well; former NBA player Amar'e Stoudemire was at Gulfstream to give the call of “Rider's Up!" moments before the race.
Attendance at Gulfstream was capped at 1,800, or about one-sixth of what the capacity was for the four previous editions of Pegasus Day. Masks were mandatory and social distancing was required, along with other protocols.
“We want people to have a good time in a safe way,” said Belinda Stronach, the Chairman and President of The Stronach Group, which oversees Gulfstream and many other tracks and training facilities.
Gulfstream has kept its normal racing schedule, even during the pandemic, even without fans.
“We’ve been so fortunate here at Gulfstream to pretty much be able to keep racing the entire year,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “It’s meant a lot to a lot of people.”
And he enjoyed Pegasus day more than most.
Pletcher had horses grab first and second in the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf, the race that preceded the $3 million main event, with 5-2 favorite Colonel Liam getting loose in the stretch to get a narrow win over Largent.
Colonel Liam returned $7, $4.20 and $3.20. Largent paid $5 and $3.80, while Cross Border paid $6.40 to show. It was the second Pegasus Turf victory for jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., who got Bricks and Mortar across the line first in the inaugural running of the grass event in 2019.