IF we enjoyed sparks flying in last week’s head to head over jumps, sit back for a sizzler tonight in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (Sky Racing 10.34pm).

The Longines World’s Best Racehorse and 2021 winner, Knicks Go returns to Gulfstream Park for a highly anticipated defence against fellow Breeders’ Cup winner Life Is Good.

Both the top two go from the front and have terrific all round speed.

The six-year-old grey was installed as the 6/5 morning-line favourite in a field of nine older horses after drawing the inside post position Tuesday, this is his last race before he heads to stud.

Knicks Go (Joel Rosario) produced a dazzling two-and-three-quarter-length victory in last year’s Pegasus and the son of Paynter is coming off an impressive triumph in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Del Mar.

“He certainly seems like he hasn’t regressed one step from the Breeders’ Cup. We’re in good shape,” Cox said this week.

But Life Is Good (Irad Ortiz Jr) has won five of six career starts while leading all the way, including a scintillating five-and-three-quarter-length victory in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

Knicks Go may have an advantage in drawing the rail with Life Is Good in stall four.

“We’re not going to let him have his own way, and I think he’s probably not going to let us have our own way. We’re going to be very aggressive to get him there,” Cox said.

Life Is Good was top rated on last year’s Road to the Kentucky Derby when he won his first three starts impressively but was sidelined with an injury.

After being transferred to Todd Pletcher, the son of Into Mischief couldn’t hold Jackie’s Warrior in the seven-furlong Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens Memorial Stakes on his return at Saratoga in late August but came back to win the Grade 2 mile Kelso Handicap at Belmont Park by five and a half lengths before the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.


“You’ve got two super talented horses with similar running styles. It’s going to be very exciting to see how the pace unfolds. Speed is our horse’s weapon and we’re not looking to take it away from him,” Pletcher said.

Life Is Good hasn’t run beyond a mile and half a furlong while Knicks Go was strong at a mile and two in the Breeders’ Cup Classic which should give him the advantage.

Pletcher has confidence in both Life Is Good’s natural speed. “You’re talking about a horse that, if you wanted to, could probably be the best sprinter in the country. He’s also showed in the Dirt Mile that he has the ability to go at a high cruising speed and keep going.”

Of the others, Sir Winston is no stranger to pulling off a shock as the Mark Casse-trained six-year-old won the 2019 Belmont Stakes over favourite Tacitus and stablemate War Of Will, who won the Preakness Stakes. He returned from nearly a year-long layoff in August 2021 and won two races, including the Grade 3 Valedictory Stakes at Woodbine last time out.

Stilleto Boy has a pair of Grade 1 placings, second in the Awesome Again Stakes before finishing fifth behind Knicks Go in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and most recently finished third behind emerging superstar Flightline in the seven-furlong Grade 1 Runhappy Malibu Stakes. Chess Chief has a come-from-behind running style, which he most recently employed for a victory in the Tenacious Stakes at Fair Grounds.

The appetiser is the nine-furlong Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational Stakes at 9.49pm where Cliper Logisitcs Space Traveller, now trained by Brendan Walsh and to be ridden by Jamie Spencer, will take on 11 rivals.

US turf regulars Cross Border and Channel Cat are back again but Colonel Liam heads the markets. But he has not run since finishing eighth in the Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes in June at Belmont Park. He won this last year and added the Grade 1 Turf Classic Stakes on the Kentucky Derby card beating Domestic Spending which is better form than any here can boast.