By J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman") Twitter: @J_Keelerman
Saturday's $150,000 Pegasus
S. at Monmouth Park might not have the purse and prestige of last week's $1.5
million Belmont S. (G1), but the 1 1/16-mile event has nevertheless attracted a
quality field packed with promising horses.
The Pegasus serves as a
local steppingstone toward the Haskell S. (G1) at Monmouth, and it's clearly an
effective prep race since two of the last three Haskell winners (Mandaloun and
Maximum Security) started in the Pegasus.
One of the obvious
contenders in the 2022 Pegasus is #7
Dash Attack, a two-time stakes winner trained by Kenny McPeek. The son of
Munnings won his debut racing one mile at Oaklawn Park last December, then
followed up with a decisive two-length score over future Arkansas Derby (G1)
runner-up Barber Road in Oaklawn's one-mile Smarty Jones S.
Dash Attack subsequently
failed to factor in a trio of graded stakes on the Road to the Kentucky Derby,
finishing fifth in the Southwest S. (G3), seventh in the Rebel S. (G2), and
sixth in the Lexington S. (G3). But he bounced right back to winning form in
the one-mile and 70-yard Long Branch S. at Monmouth last month, rallying nicely
from off the pace to prevail by half a length over Gotham S. (G3) runner-up
There are a couple of ways
to interpret Dash Attack's up-and-down form. Maybe he struggled while competing
against graded stakes competition, in which case the ungraded Pegasus should be
an ideal fit for the chestnut colt.
On the other hand, it's possible
Dash Attack is something of a wet-track specialist. He's 3-for-3 over sealed
tracks and 0-for-3 over fast footing. With sunny weather in the forecast for Monmouth, I'm tempted to oppose
Dash Attack in the Pegasus.
Who are the other key
contenders? #4 Electability certainly
warrants respect. His first two starts on dirt yielded pace-pressing maiden and
allowance scores racing one mile at Aqueduct, and he subsequently ran well when
stepping up into graded stakes competition for the Peter Pan S. (G3) at Belmont
Park. Racing over a sealed track, Electability tracked eventual runaway winner
With the People before weakening down the homestretch to finish third by 10 1/4
Electability is squaring off
against easier competition in the Pegasus and may appreciate stretching out
around two turns for jockey Manny Franco and trainer Chad Brown, who have gone
18-for-36 (50%) teaming up together over the last two months.
But although Electability
warrants respect, I'm tempted to throw my support behind #2 Home Brew. His race record to date is pretty much the opposite
of Dash Attack's, in that Home Brew is 0-for-2 on off tracks and 3-for-3 over
Home Brew looked like a
potential Kentucky Derby contender when wiring a one-mile allowance optional
claimer by 3 3/4 lengths at Oaklawn Park last fall. But he went to the
sidelines following a 10th-place finish over a sloppy, sealed track in the
Smarty Jones S., where he started as the favorite but struggled home eight
lengths behind Dash Attack.
Fortunately, Home Brew
bounced back nicely in the 1 1/8-mile Oaklawn S. on April 23. After rating in
midpack early on, Home Brew pounced to the lead and edged away to defeat
next-out allowance winner Kuchar by 1 3/4 lengths.
Home Brew has trained
sharply since the Oaklawn S. and has the breeding to improve with maturity for
high-percentage trainer Brad Cox, who won the 2021 Pegasus with Mandaloun.
Jockey Florent Geroux (a 33% winner teaming up with Cox over the last two
months) picks up the mount, so I'm optimistic Home Brew will produce another
winning performance in the Pegasus.
For the minor awards, we'll
look toward #3 Mr Jefferson as a
live longshot. The son of Constitution has knocked heads with some mighty tough
rivals (including classic winners Mo Donegal and Early Voting) while competing
in five straight stakes. Two starts back, he rallied to finish second by a head
in the 1 1/8-mile Federico Tesio S. at Laurel Park, beaten only a head by
next-out James W. Murphy S. winner Joe. A return to that level of form could
place Mr Jefferson in the hunt for a top-three finish at solid odds in the
1st: Home Brew
3rd: Mr Jefferson
4th: Dash Attack
Now it's your turn! Who do
you like in the Pegasus?
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J. Keeler Johnson (also known as "Keelerman") is a writer, videographer, voice actor, handicapper, and all-around horse racing enthusiast. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite.