Pegasus World Cup: Owners and Horses Jockey for Position
December 20, 2016 05:29am

The Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup, set for January 28 at Gulfstream Park, will be a race unlike any other. Horse owners don’t pay a regular entry fee, but buy one of twelve $1 million slots into the starting gate, fueling the $12 million purse.


All twelve spots have been purchased, but only a few horses are locked in. California Chrome, LLC plans on California Chrome, trained by Art Sherman, making his grand finale in the Pegasus before beginning his stud career at Taylor Made. Frank Stronach, who envisioned the Pegasus World Cup, has Grade 1 Woodward winner Shaman Ghost locked in with his Adena Springs operation. Starlight Pegasus Partners, a syndicate from Starlight Racing, are looking to run Neolithic, who just won an allowance race at Gulfstream Park following a runner-up effort in the Grade 3 Discovery Handicap.


Coolmore also bought a slot, but it isn’t clear yet which horse they will be running. Some speculated Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Highland Reel was an option, but it looks like Stanford, recent winner of the Grade 3 Harlan’s Holiday co-owned by Stonestreet Farm, will be their likely starter.


Reddam Racing, LLC and Jim McIngvale both had Pegasus hopefuls with 2016 Kentucky Derby victor Nyquist and 2015 Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Runhappy respectively, but both colts are retired and preparing for stud duty in 2017. While Reddam Racing has yet to produce a Pegasus contender, McIngvale has bought Eragon, a Group 1 winner from Argentina.


This leaves Reddam Racing, Ronald and Jerry Frankel, the partnership of Moustapha Fostock, Earle I. Mack, LLC, and Chester Broman, Sr., Dan Schafer, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Rosedown Racing Stables, and Ruis Racing, LLC to find their horses for the race. They can either buy or lease a horse, sell their spot, or share a starter. In order to get a share of the winner’s $7 million, these investors will need to find a horse with a good chance to take down California Chrome. The best applicant for the job is not for sale or lease, but selling or sharing a spot is an option to Juddmonte Farm’s Breeders’ Cup Classic champ Arrogate.


While many top three-year-olds were preparing for the Triple Crown trail in April, Arrogate’s race career was just getting started under Bob Baffert. After winning second time out in June and running two impressive allowance races, Arrogate turned heads with a 13 ½ length romp in the Grade 1 Travers before running down California Chrome in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He is expected to make a start in the Pegasus World Cup after a prep in the Grade 2 San Pasqual, but Juddmonte Farm still needs to find their star colt a slot before he is a definite entry.


Trainer Todd Pletcher likely has a secure spot for Neolithic and Stanford, but Donegal Racing’s Keen Ice, who was runner-up to Stanford in the Harlan’s Holiday, still needs to find a way into the starting gate for another Grade 1 attempt. The horse only has two wins in 19 starts, including a score in the 2015 Travers over American Pharoah, but he’s a hard knocking horse who finished third behind California Chrome and Arrogate in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic following a layoff and an allowance race.


Grade 3 Discovery winner Sticksstatelydude has also been working toward a start in the Pegasus under the care of Kiaran McLaughlin. After an allowance win in July, Sticksstatelydude ran fourth in the Grade 3 Smarty Jones and improved to second in the Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby before earning his first stakes victory in the Discovery. He is a lease or buy option for investors without a horse.


Connect, winner of the Grade 1 Cigar Mile and Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby, has been a late blooming three-year-old from the Chad Brown stable. The Pegasus is a likely start if the colt keeps training well, but owner Paul P. Pompa, Jr. will have to buy or share a spot.


Trainer Steve Asmussen also considered Winchell Thoroughbred’s Gun Runner after the colt won the Grade 1 Clark. A decision has not yet been confirmed on pursuing the likes of California Chrome and Arrogate, and Winchell would also have to find a spot to buy or share.


With just over a month to go until the Pegasus World Cup, it will be interesting to see how the negotiations play out and who gets in the starting gate.


By Christine Oser


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