In the days leading up to the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida, usracing.com is publishing profiles of the horses in the race set for Saturday, Jan. 29. The profiles will be updated with morning-line odds and post positions following the draw on Tuesday at 1:30 pm ET.
By Ed McNamara
This 6-year-old Virginia-bred is the ultimate horse for course — 5-for-10 at the Fair Grounds, 0-for-20 everywhere else. Unfortunately for him, the Pegasus is run at Gulfstream Park.
Although Chess Chief is 4-for-12 at the Pegasus’ distance of 1 1/8 miles, he’s 1-for-14 in graded stakes. His late-running style also goes against the grain of Gulfstream’s speed-favoring main track. Chess Chief’s only meeting with Pegasus favorite Knicks Go was a dud last October in the Grade 3 Lukas Classic at Churchill Downs. He finished fifth, 14 lengths behind, at 44-1 odds and received the chart comment “Never involved.”
Trainer Dallas Stewart loves to take on big challenges, as he did early in Chess Chief’s career. After coming in eighth and sixth in his first two starts, his next race was the Grade 2 Blue Grass, in which he ran a respectable fifth.
The durable son of standout sire Into Mischief has been an excellent money maker, banking more than $800,000. He’ll probably add to that from the Pegasus’ total purse of $4 million. However, believing he can catch Knicks Go and Life Is Good is delusional. The prediction: He’ll be far back early, and his best-case scenario is to plod up for fourth, which would count as a win for him.
betting advice: If you’re a fan of late-running long shots, use him third in trifectas, third and fourth in superfectas, and root hard for a suicidal pace.
Post position: TBD
Trainer: Dallas Stewart
Owner: Estate of James J. Coleman, Jr.
career record: 30-5-4-4
Career earnings: $810,338
Top Equibase speed figure: 108
Pedigree: Into Mischief-Un Blessed, by Mineshaft
running style: Closer
Notes: Chess Chief’s last race was a nose victory in an ungraded $100,000 stakes at the Fair Grounds. Finishing second was Happy American, who’s still a maiden after seven starts … Stewart, a former assistant to D. Wayne Lukas, won the Breeders’ Cup Disstaff with Unbridled Elaine (2001) and Forever Unbridled (2017). He also trained 2006 Kentucky Oaks winner Lemons Forever, who paid a race-record $96.20.
Ed McNamara is an award-winning journalist who has been writing about thoroughbred racing for 35 years. He has handicapped races for ESPN.com, Newsday and The Record of New Jersey. He is the author of “Cajun Racing: From the Bush Tracks to the Triple Crown” and co-author of “The Most Glorious Crown,” a chronicle of the first 12 Triple Crown champions.