As retirement looms, Knicks Go chasing history in Pegasus

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. — Whatever happens Saturday will simply be resume-padding for Knicks Go. His retirement home has been picked out, his stud fee has been set and he’s in the relatively small club of thoroughbreds with multiple Breeders’ Cup race victories including last year’s Classic.

There’s not much left to prove.

“I would think that he’s probably worthy of being in the Hall of Fame now,” trainer Brad Cox said.

He’s probably right – but just in case, Knicks Go has one last chance to add to his legacy.

His final race is Saturday when he’ll be the likely favorite in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park. He could become the first back-to-back Pegasus winner, and a victory would make him the 10th North American thoroughbred to break the $10 million mark in career earnings.

“He’s accomplished so much. He doesn’t owe us anything,” Cox said. “I’m hoping he can go out on a high note with a win. We’ve got to get through Saturday, but I would be extremely happy for the horse if he can retire sound, healthy and happy.”

Knicks Go will face a field of nine, though in the eyes of handicappers and probably most bettors, it’s basically a field of two. Knicks Go was installed as the 6-5 morning-line favorite, just ahead of Life Is Good at 7-5. No other horse was given better early odds than Chess Chief at 10-1.

Life Is Good was considered the likely favorite for the Kentucky Derby last year before he was taken off the Triple Crown trail following an ankle injury that required surgery. He’s raced six times with five wins and one second-place finish by a neck.

“He’s very good,” Cox said of Life Is Good. “I mean, it’s no secret. He’s a very, very good colt. … It’s going to be a great matchup. I think it’s great for racing and I’m interested in seeing it myself. I know who I’m rooting for. It’s very good for racing and I’m excited about the race.”

There are some notable parallels between Knicks Go and Life Is Good. Neither competed in a Triple Crown race; Knicks Go was winless in eight races as a 3-year-old, Life Is Good was hurt. Both have speed that simply sets them apart from most challengers. And both have a Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile win on their record, with Knicks Go winning it in 2020 and Life Is Good winning it last year.

“I think anytime we can have these kind of big matchups, and especially in a huge race at the beginning of the year, it’s great for the sport,” Life Is Good trainer Todd Pletcher said.

Knicks Go went to the front right away in last year’s Pegasus, breaking from the No. 4 post in the field of 10 and not having much problem holding off any challengers. Knicks Go drew the inside post on Saturday – probably not ideal, though Cox said he wasn’t overly worried about it – and Life Is Good will start from that No. 4 post.

If the race plays out as past performances would suggest, both will get near the lead early. And from there, who knows.

“That’s the $3 million question, right?” Pletcher said. “That’s what we’re getting ready to find out.”


Knicks Go enters the race with just under $8.7 million in career earnings. The rest of the field – which includes a Breeders’ Cup winner in Life Is Good and a past Belmont Stakes winner in Sir Winston – has combined career earnings of $5.2 million.


Technically, all North American thoroughbreds are considered born on Jan. 1. Knicks Go was foaled on Jan. 29, 2016, meaning he actually turns 6 on Saturday.


Knicks Go has already checked out his retirement home. He spent a few days in the fall at Taylor Made Farm in Kentucky, where he’ll stand stud for the relatively modest price – for a horse of his caliber, anyway – of $30,000.


There are two other races as part of the Pegasus World Cup program on Saturday.

Colonel Liam (3-1) is the early favorite in a field of 12 entered in the Grade 1, $1 million Pegasus Turf. Regal Glory (2-1) is the morning-line favorite out of 11 entrants in the Grade 3, $500,000 Pegasus Filly And Mare Turf.

Pletcher saddles both Colonel Liam and Life Is Good, and will have jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard both of those horses Saturday.


Heat won’t be an issue Saturday in South Florida. Forecasters are saying some of the coldest weather in years is expected this weekend, with high temperatures at Gulfstream Park on Saturday not expected to get out of the upper 50s. That’ll be about 20 degrees cooler than it was for last year’s Pegasus running.

Forte works out, waits for Belmont Stakes clearance

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NEW YORK — Forte, the early Kentucky Derby favorite who was scratched on the day of the race, worked out in preparation for a possible start in the Belmont Stakes on June 10.

Under regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr., Forte worked five-eighths of a mile for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. It was the colt’s second workout since being scratched from the Derby on May 6.

“It seems like he’s maintained his fitness level,” Pletcher said. “It seems like everything is in good order.”

Forte was placed on a mandatory 14-day veterinary list after being scratched from the Derby because of a bruised right front foot. In order to be removed from the list, the colt had to work in front of a state veterinarian and give a blood sample afterward, the results of which take five days.

“There’s protocols in place and we had to adhere to those and we’re happy that everything went smoothly,” Pletcher said. “We felt confident the horse was in good order or we wouldn’t have been out there twice in the last six days, but you still want to make sure everything went smoothly and we’re happy everything did go well.”

Pletcher said Kingsbarns, who finished 14th in the Kentucky Derby, will miss the Belmont. The colt is showing signs of colic, although he is fine, the trainer said.

Another Pletcher-trained horse, Prove Worthy, is under consideration for the Belmont. He also has Tapit Trice, who finished seventh in the Derby, being pointed toward the Belmont.

Judge grants Churchill Downs’ request for summary judgment to dismiss Bob Baffert’s lawsuit

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A federal judge has granted Churchill Downs’ motion for summary judgment that dismisses Bob Baffert’s claim the track breached due process by suspending the Hall of Fame trainer for two years.

Churchill Downs Inc. suspended Baffert in June 2021 after his now-deceased colt, Medina Spirit, failed a postrace drug test after crossing the finish line first in the 147th Kentucky Derby. The trainer’s request to lift the discipline was denied in February, keeping him out of the Derby for a second consecutive May.

U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings ruled in a 12-page opinion issued Wednesday that Churchill Downs’ suspension of Baffert did not devalue his Kentucky trainer’s license. It cited his purse winnings exceeding $1 million at Keeneland in Lexington and stated that his argument “amounts to a false analogy that distorts caselaw.”

Jennings denied CDI’s motion to stay discovery as moot.

The decision comes less than a week after Baffert-trained colt National Treasure won the Preakness in his first Triple Crown race in two years. His record eighth win in the second jewel of the Triple Crown came hours after another of his horses, Havnameltdown, was euthanized following an injury at Pimlico.

Churchill Downs said in a statement that it was pleased with the court’s favorable ruling as in Baffert’s other cases.

It added, “While he may choose to file baseless appeals, this completes the seemingly endless, arduous and unnecessary litigation proceedings instigated by Mr. Baffert.”

Baffert’s suspension is scheduled to end on June 2, but the track’s release noted its right to extend it “and will communicate our decision” at its conclusion.