It may be a new addition to the racing scene, introduced in just 2017, but the Pegasus World Cup has taken no time in gaining quite a reputation. Undoubtedly one of the biggest events on the American racing calendar, this is not something you want to miss out on.
Gulfstream Park in Florida hosts the action, and the Pegasus World Cup meeting is one of the most valuable on the planet. The race itself is run on dirt over one mile and a furlong. The inaugural running of the race was won by the globe trotting Arrogate who won the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Pegasus World Cup and Dubai World Cup in succession from November 2016 to March 2017.
Pegasus World Cup Course Map (Dirt Course)
Pegasus World Cup Past Winners
|Life Is Good
|Irad Ortiz Jnr
|Brad H Cox
|Irad Ortiz Jnr
|City Of Light
|Steven M. Asmussen
|Mike E. Smith
About The Pegasus World Cup: Taking Flight At Gulfstream
All eyes may be on the National Hunt side of racing during the winter months over here in Britain, but it is the flat racing game which continues to take centre stage on the international scene. The likes of late autumn’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, and March’s Dubai World Cup are invariably two of the most prestigious and valuable middle distance contests of the season, and falling just about slap bang in the middle of those two events is the new kid on the block: Gulfstream Park’s Pegasus Word Cup.
Held in late January each year, this 1m1f Grade 1 event is open to runners aged four and older. A maximum field of twelve go to post for this one, with the fillies and mares receiving a three pound weight allowance in line with similar events run elsewhere.
The “Pegasus” of the race’s title of course refers to the famed mythical horse of Greek legend, with Gulfstream Park also erecting a statue in honour of the winged equine marvel. Not just any old statue either, this is a 100ft affair involving a trampled dragon which looms large in the backdrop, adding a real sense of drama as the runners stream past in the straight.
This race may have only made its debut in 2017, but it certainly made quite a splash in its inaugural running. Operated on an innovative new model, each of the twelve starting berths were sold to a shareholder, who then had a right to race a horse, or lease or sell their starting berth. The price of each of those twelve starting berths? A cool $1 million. With the $12 million generated going straight into the prize pool, the 2017 edition of this race was the richest to be run anywhere in the world that year.
As astronomical as that figure was, it was nevertheless significantly overtaken in the second running of the race. With organisers the Stronach Group adding a generous $4 million to the pot, total prize money rose to a monstrous $16 million.
As we can see from the above chart though, that 2018 edition of the race proved to be something of a high watermark for the race – at least in terms of prize money. The addition of the Pegasus World Cup Turf race in 2019, which itself offered $7 million in prize money, together with a reduction in the entry fee from $1 million to $500,000, saw the total pool reduced to “only” $9 million.
The greatest change of all though was to come ahead of the 2020 edition, with the entry fees being scrapped entirely as the race became an invitation only affair. This owner-friendly move understandably saw a substantial reduction in the prize pool, but the $3 million still on offer is certainly not to be sniffed at.
CLEANING UP THE GAME
The 2020 edition was a real time of change for the race, with the conditions of the contest also undergoing a significant alteration. The anti-bleeding/performance enhancing drug Lasix is commonly used in US racing, but has had its share of controversy over the years. Previously any runner taking part in this race without Lasix would have received a weight allowance of five pounds.
As of 2020 this will be no more, as the use of Lasix – and indeed all other race day medications – will be prohibited in this contest. An admirable move from the organisers, as is the fact that they have pledged to donate 2% of total prize money to thoroughbred aftercare.
Being run on dirt, it perhaps isn’t too surprising to learn that the early editions of the race have been dominated by the US, whose runners of course tend to be bred to excel under such conditions.
US bias or not, it has taken an extremely high class of performer to come home in front here. Inaugural champ Arrogate – who smashed the course record – also landed the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Dubai World Cup that season; 2018 winner Gun Runner did the Pegasus World Cup and Breeders’ Cup Classic double on route to being crowned horse of the year; whilst 2019 hero City Of Light also already had a Breeders’ Cup success to his name in the Dirt Mile.
The 2020 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Knicks Go won the following Pegasus before going on to claim the Breeders’ Cup Classic at the end of that season. Life Is Good is another who won the Dirt Mile at the Breeders’ Cup meeting before winning this race.