By Jim Freer
One favorite will be in the far outside post and the other favorite will be on the rail for Saturday’s $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (Grade 1) at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.
Post positions were drawn on Monday.
California Chrome drew post 12 and Arrogate drew post one for the Pegasus, which has a Scheduled post of 5:40 p.m. Eastern
Gulfstream line maker Jay Stone made California Chrome the 6-5 morning line favorite and made Arrogate the 7-5 second choice.
Mike Smith will ride Arrogate for trainer Bob Baffert, and Victor Espinoza will ride California Chrome for trainer Art Sherman.
The Pegasus will be a rematch of the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic, in which Arrogate rallied to beat California Chrome by a half length. That 1 1/4 mile dirt race was at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.
California Chrome’s drawing of post 12 is already a big part of pre-Pegasus discussion.
In 1 1/8 mile dirt races at Gulfstream, the run from the gate to the start of the first turn is only about 100 yards. Thus, Espinoza will need to get California Chrome out of the gate quickly, to avoid being parked wide on the turn or being caught in heavy traffic near the back of the pack.
It is widely expected that Noble Bird and Neolithic will be among horses seeking the early lead, with California Chrome and Arrogate in a second flight.
It is likely that both favorites will make moves heading into the final turn.
If both move into the lead, the big question would be whether any closer–most notably Keen Ice–can catch either of them. Keen Ice finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, 10 3/4 lengths behind California Chrome.
It should be noted that Gulfstream’s hard surface track generally does not favor horses with late-running styles.
Keen Ice is the 12-1 third choice in the morning line. Javier Castellano will ride him for trainer Todd Pletcher.
Gulfstream will have 12 races on Saturday, with first post of 11:30 a.m. Eastern. The Pegasus is the 12th race.
The advance weather forecasts are for a high temperature around 70 degrees with very limited chance of rain.
NBC will have live coverage from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Eastern.
The post positions:
1 — Arrogate
2 –Prayer for Relief
3 — Neolithic
4 — Noble Bird
5 — War Story
6 – War Envoy
7 — Sharman Ghost
8 — Semper Fortis
9 — Keen Ice
10 –Breaking Lucky