Horse Racing

Reach for the sky in Pegasus Stakes

By J. Keeler Johnson (“Keelerman”) Twitter: @J_Keelerman

A deep field sold for a $150,000 Pegasus S. on Saturday at Monmouth Park.

The 1/16-mile race for three-year-olds is not a scored race, but it might as well be. The 2024 field is packed with Road to the Kentucky Derby alumni (including three graded stakes winners) and one of the eight entrants has run in the Kentucky Derby (G1) itself.

That horse is #7 Domestic products, may be Pegasus’ favorite. Although trainee Chad Brown was unsuccessful in the Kentucky Derby, finishing 13th, his previous form as a 3-year-old was strong. The domestic product accelerated at a slow pace to finish in second place far away from the leader #5 Hades in the Holy Bull (G3), then overcame extremely slow fractions of :25.25, :51.14 and 1:16.21 to win by a neck in the Tampa Bay Derby (G3).

You could come up with a lot of reasons for Domestic Products’ disappointment in the Kentucky Derby. Perhaps entering a level 1 company is too steep. Perhaps he didn’t fire after a rough start that left him slower than usual. Perhaps he was a more natural soul (as his pedigree suggested might be the case) and the Derby distance of a quarter mile proved too far. Whatever the reason(s), Domestic Products will recover while losing ground and distance to Pegasus.

But does that guarantee that Domestic Products will be the winner? Unnecessary. Recent years have shown that Kentucky Derby alumni are vulnerable when facing Pegasus.

In 2023, Derby’s 14th-placed finisher Kingsbarns were beaten into second place 1-2 at Pegasus. In 2019, disqualified Derby winner Maximum Security started a dominant 1-20 in the Pegasus, but finished second. And while Mandaloun (ultimate Kentucky Derby winner by disqualification) won as the 3-10 favorite in the 2021 Pegasus, he did so by just one shot while Finishing the Derby in 14th place was Brooklyn Strong in a distant fourth place.

I believe that Domestic Products will strive to compete and finish accurately at Pegasus. There is a good chance he will win and I wouldn’t take him out of any multi-race betting. But my top pick, hopefully with better odds, is #1 Tuscan sky.

Tuscan Sky has a lot of talent, but I’m not sure he enjoys racing against his opponents. When he debuted in the six-furlong maiden special weight class at Aqueduct in January, he initially set the pace before being overtaken and overtaken by his opponent on the outside. Once Tuscan Sky got behind the leader, he fell back from the pace to 3 1/2 lengths. But as he moved out to find the clear path, Tuscan Sky unleashed an explosive finish and took the lead by 5 1/4 lengths.

Tuscan Sky later settled on a $100,000 grant for the option of racing 1 1/16 miles at Fair Grounds. Facing only two opponents, he was able to keep up the pace in second place before pulling away to beat the heavily placed Nash by two lengths.

Then comes the Wood Memorial (G2), in which Tuscan Sky starts as a popular choice at 2.95-1. Unfortunately, he was just one step behind and was squeezed between his rivals, dropping to ninth place as a result. Again, he did not seem to enjoy the kickback and fell a length behind the eighth-placed horse. When Tuscan Sky took the lead, he made a pretty good rally into the far turn, and while I didn’t think he would win, he was behind his rivals as he approached home field and then must stand firm when the opponent falls. In other words, Tuscan Sky did not have a fair chance to maintain his rally, so I will forgive him for being seventh after 12 lengths.

Now, I’m not happy that Tuscan Sky drew the line for Pegasus, because if he didn’t take the lead, he might have had to race against horses and that might hurt his chances. But the Pegasus field isn’t too fast, so if Tuscan Sky gets off to a good start when equipped with flashers for the first time, I think there’s a good chance he’ll get a first or second place and practice. the ride he needed to win.

Adding to the appeal are the Tuscan Sky’s speed figures. His two wins yielded back-to-back Brisnet Speed ​​ratings of 97 and improved Beyer Speed ​​Figures of 89 and 95. Those numbers look excellent against the Pegasus field, so I trust Tuscan Sky’s A-game to be good enough to win this race. The reality is that trainer Todd Pletcher is a five-time Pegasus champion (even beating Maximum Security with King in one day) and I believe Tuscan Sky is a decent bet to cause a mild upset of Product inland.

Now it’s your turn! Who do you like in Pegasus?


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J. Keeler Johnson (also known as “Keelerman”) is a writer, videographer, voice actor, paraplegic, and all-around horse racing enthusiast. A big fan of racing history, he considered Dr. Fager the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but considered Zenyatta his all-time favorite.


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