Pegasus World Cup
|Grade I race|
Hallandale Beach, Florida, United States
|Race type||Thoroughbred - Flat racing|
|Distance||1 1⁄8 miles (9 furlongs)|
|Qualification||Four-year-olds and up|
|Weight||124 pounds (56 kg) with allowances|
|Purse||$12 million (2017)|
$16 million (2018)
$9 million (2019)
The Pegasus World Cup is an American Thoroughbred horse race whose first running was on January 28, 2017 at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida. It is run over the dirt at the distance of 1 1⁄8 miles (9 furlongs) and is open to horses four years old and up. The Grade I rating was assumed from the Donn Handicap. With a purse of $12 million for its inaugural running, the Pegasus World Cup surpassed the Dubai World Cup as the richest horse race in the world. The purse was subsequently increased to $16 million in 2018 but reduced to $9 million in 2019.
Entrants carry 124 pounds (56 kg) with a three pound allowance for fillies and mares. Horses that run without the use of the pre-race medication furosemide (more commonly known as Lasix) receive an allowance of five pounds.
Frank Stronach first proposed the idea for the race during the Thoroughbred Owners Conference at Gulfstream in January 2016. His original proposal called for an annual 1 1⁄4-mile (10 furlong) race to be run at either Gulfstream or Santa Anita Park in mid to late January, which would not interfere with the Breeders' Cup or the Dubai World Cup. The timing also makes it possible for a horse to run one last race before retiring to stud, as the North American breeding season begins in mid-February. "I think racing usually has a little lull this time of year – we have to wait for spring for something to happen," said trainer Bob Baffert in January 2017. "When I heard about the idea last year, I thought wow, American Pharoah probably would have been in there for one more try at it."
The Stronach Group officially announced plans for the race in May 2016, with the distance shortened to 1 1⁄8 miles (9 furlongs). Under the format, 12 shareholders each pay $1 million to purchase a position in the gate for a then unspecified horse. The shareholder then has the right to race, lease, contract or share a starter, or sell their place in the gate, and would have the first right of refusal for subsequent races. Shareholders also have an equal share in the net income from the race.
Each shareholder is permitted to pre-enter two horses. A pre-entered horse that does not draw into the Pegasus World Cup is eligible to compete in the newly created Poseidon Stakes, which is run under similar conditions but offers a $400,000 purse and requires a $20,000 entry fee.
Following its inaugural running in 2017, it was announced that the second Pegasus World Cup in 2018 would be contested for a higher purse of $16 million, with $1 million from each of the 12 starting positions and an additional $4 million contributed by the Stronach Group.
The 2019 Pegasus World Cup purse is increased to $17 million as an additional race on turf was added. The traditional dirt race will be reduced to $9 million, with the other $7 million in purse money allocated to the new Pegasus World Cup Turf race (formerly the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap), and another $1 million is available as bonus money. The entry fee is reduced to $500,000, with 24 entries available -- 12 for both the dirt and turf races each. An owner who wins both the dirt and turf races will win $1,000,000.
Gun Runner, who would likely have been the third choice in the field, was refused entry due to a disagreement over testing protocols arising from a quarantine at Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans. His owners, Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm, had negotiated with shareholder Ruis Stable for a spot.
The first running of the race carried Grade I status, which was transferred from the discontinued Donn Handicap by the American Graded Stakes Committee. A new stakes race would normally have to wait two years before being eligible for any graded or listed status.
The race was promoted as the final match-up between California Chrome, the two-time American Horse of the Year, and Arrogate, ranked by the IFHA as the World's Best Racehorse of 2016. California Chrome drew the outside post position which caused him to be carried wide in the first turn. He eventually settled behind the early leaders alongside Arrogate but could not respond when the latter made his move, possibly having wrenched his leg early in the race. California Chrome was eased to prevent the possibility of further injury and finished ninth. Meanwhile Arrogate swept to the lead and drew off to win by nearly five lengths over longshot Shaman Ghost. The timing of the race proved controversial. The official time, measured by Trakus based on transmitters in the horses' saddlecloths, was 1:47.61. However, clocking experts hand-timed the race almost a second faster, at 1:46.9. The timing controversy caused the Beyer Speed Figure for Arrogate to be increased from 116 to 119. Gulfstream did a frame-by-frame video analysis and determined the correct time was 1:46.83, a new track record.
2017 Order of finish and odds
In December 2017, Gulfstream announced its confidence that there would be 12 entries for the 2018 running, even though some of the shares had not yet been sold. The Stronach Group ultimately purchased the last three slots for the race, which they then leased to the owners of Giant Expectations, War Story and Singing Bullet. The three horses ran under the name of Pegasus Race Participants with an earnings-sharing arrangement.
After winning the 2017 Breeders' Cup Classic on his way to Horse of the Year honors, the connections of Gun Runner announced that the horse would be retired after the 2018 Pegasus World Cup. His main rivals included West Coast (Travers), Collected (Pacific Classic), Sharp Azteca (Cigar Mile), War Story, Gunnevera and Seeking the Soul (Clark Handicap). The Eclipse Award winning mare Forever Unbridled (Breeders' Cup Distaff) was originally expected to enter but ultimately missed the race. Toast of New York, who was previously best known for a second-place finish in the 2014 Breeders' Cup Classic, entered the race after having run in only one race in nearly three years due to injury and stud duties.
The main concern for Gun Runner's connections was when he drew an outside post position for the race, a major concern at Gulfstream Park because the starting gate is so close to the first turn. However, Gun Runner broke well and moved quickly towards the rail, then settled into second to the outside of Collected. The two horses set a brisk early pace followed by Giant Expectations and West Coast. Around the final turn, Gun Runner made his move and pulled into the lead. Collected and Giant Expectations both fell back, finishing seventh and ninth respectively. West Coast was urged forward and closed to within a length in the stretch before Gun Runner responded and drew off, winning by 2 1⁄2 lengths. Gunnevera closed from behind to finish a well-beaten third while longshot Fear the Cowboy finished fourth.
2018 Order of finish and odds
In the 2019 edition, the purse for the main race was reduced to $9 million ($4 million to win), while a new race was created, Pegasus Turf with a purse of $7 million ($3 million to win). A $1 million bonus was also available if a horse's connections could sweep the two races. The two main contenders were Accelerate (Breeders' Cup Classic) and City of Light (Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile). Adding intrigue to the race was the presence of Mexican superstar Kukulkan, winner of Mexico's Triple Crown and undefeated in 14 career races. Other contenders included Gunnevera (Breeders' Cup Classic runner-up), Audible (Florida Derby winner), Bravazo (Preakness runner-up), Seeking the Soul (Ack Ack Stakes) and Patternrecognition (Cigar Mile winner). This was the final race for both Accelerate and City of Light before they were retired.
The track was sloppy due to heavy rain that continued during the race itself. City of Light broke well to vie for the early lead, then settled behind Patternrecognition. Around the far turn, City of Light made his move, followed by Accelerate. However, Accelerate could not match the pace and City of Light continued to draw away, winning by 5 3⁄4 lengths over the late-closing Seeking the Soul.
|2019||City of Light||5||Javier Castellano||W.M. McCarthy||Warren, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. William K.||1:47.71|
|2018||Gun Runner||5||Florent Geroux||Steven M. Asmussen||Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and Three Chimneys Farm||1:47.41|
|2017||Arrogate||4||Mike E. Smith||Bob Baffert||Juddmonte Farms||1:46.83|
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