We’re only a week away from the biggest event we’ve had since the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The $3,000,000 Pegasus World Cup Invitational is scheduled for Saturday at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach. It’s an invite only race, with Bob Baffert’s Charlatan the most well-known name to receive one. However, Baffert is going to pass on the Pegasus and point Charlatan to the $20,000,000 Saudi Cup. You can’t blame him to chase that monster purse in Saudi Arabia. I’d be doing the same thing if I had Charlatan in my barn. The Saudi Cup should be a tough event, though, with the Pegasus a clearer path to a win.
There are two stakes races on Sunday in the US at Aqueduct Racetrack and Santa Anita Park. Both races are worth $100,000, so not much to get excited over. They each have another $100,000 stakes race on Monday in rare early weekday stakes events. It’s the Martin Luther King long weekend, so some of the big tracks will have cards for the holiday on Monday. BetOnline has at least seven racecourses available for wagering Sunday. We will begin the day at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. Aqueduct has nine races scheduled for a total of $523,000 in prize money. Head below for our free Aqueduct Racetrack picks for January 17, 2020.
Post Time: 12:20 p.m. EST
Race 1 will get us going at Aqueduct Racetrack on Sunday. The first race of the afternoon has a tidy purse of $80,000. The event covers 7 furlongs on the main track. We could have a duel between Khafre and Too Boss in the stretch. Both horses should have a say in the stretch.
Khafre is making his debut on Sunday, and is expected to be a dangerous runner in this one. His career prospects are bright after being purchased by Centennial Farms in 2019. He was originally bought for $250,000 in 2018, and then sold for $250,000 more a year later.
Khafre has been looking sharp in morning workouts leading up to today. In two workouts in January, Khafre completed 5 furlongs in 1:00.00 and 4 furlongs in 47.20 seconds. He appears ready to go for Sunday and should put up a big fight for the top prize. Expect Khafre to come close, with Too Boss in the mix as well.
Too Boss placed 2nd behind By George by 5 ¼ lengths in a $80,000 event on December 19. He was on the workout track a couple of times in January as well. Too Boss completed 4 furlongs in 49.88 and 48.95 seconds. I like Too Boss, but Khafre looks like an exciting rookie with a bright future. Stakes racing should be in his future soon. I am on Khafre to get the win.
Post Time: 12:50 p.m. EST
Distance:6 ½ Furlongs
Race 2 is a 6 ½ furlong event for a $45,000 purse on the main track. Seven horses are scheduled to run in the second race at Aqueduct on Sunday. Mia Bea Star and Behind the Couch will likely present bold bids in the stretch in this race.
Mia Bea Star is 1 for 9 in her career, with a win on November 6 three races ago. She beat Love Me Tomorrow by 4 lengths for a $35,000 purse, but then faltered for 5th in a $36,000 event and showed 3rd in a $28,000 race. That was the second time in her career that Mia Bea Star finished in the top-3.
This is a tougher race, so more has to be expected from Mia Bea Star to win. Having said that, the competition level isn’t that much harder than she has seen. Behind the Couch is the one horse that should give her problems, though. Behind the Couch is dropping in class and should do well on these terms.
She has finished 2nd, 4th, 4th in her previous three outings. Behind the Couch placed behind Shelley’s Gem by 1 ¼ lengths three races ago, and then 4th and 4th, most recently in a $55,000 event on December 19. Behind the Couch has performed below expectations in her career, with 1 win in 11 outings, but against these opponents, she should do what’s asked of her.
Race 8 – Ladies Handicap
Post Time: 3:50 p.m. EST
Distance:1 ⅛ Miles
The feature race at Aqueduct should be a good one in this 1 ⅛ mile race. The Ladies Handicap is worth $100,000 and features a pretty good field, with Chad Brown and Todd Pletcher entering horses into the Ladies Handicap. Smooth With a Kick has been in nice form, having finished 1st, 3rd, 1st, 5th in her previous four outings.
She beat Wild Love by 3 ½ lengths for a $74,000 purse on August 9, and then a couple races later got back into the winner’s circle in a $73,000 event. In her most recent showing, Smooth With a Kick finished 5th in the $200,000 Falls City Stakes (Gr. 2) on November 26.
Todd Pletcher’s Thankful arrives in good form on Sunday afternoon. The $625,000 Thankful has finished 9th, 2nd, 1st, 1st, 3rd in her career. Thankful won on August 20 over Heavenly Sis by 3 ½ lengths in a $72,000 event, and then followed up a month later to beat Mrs. Danvers by a head in a $65,000 assignment.
In her most recent outing, Thankful showed 3rd in the $100,000 Comely Stakes on November 27. That was a tough field, and while this is another $100,000 event, the competition isn’t as strong. Expect Pletcher to have Thankful ready to run for the Ladies Handicap.