Horse Racing

Pegasus Starts a Winter Wonderland for Older Horses

It may sound strange, but there was a time not long ago when winter was like the desert for old horses.

After the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), December, January and February did not offer the seven-figure 1 stakes that the connections of the sport’s brightest stars coveted, leaving many of them they call it giving up and send their prized athletes to the stud farm.

Attractive Pegasus World Cup bets presented by 1 / ST BET (G1) at Gulfstream Park All of that changed when it launched in 2017. With $12 million in funding by the startup’s owners, the potential for a massive payday is finally convincing. serve the owner of California Chrome to run one last time before his life as a stallion begins. It didn’t work out for him, as he finished ninth behind Arrogate, but precedent was set.

Gun Runner wins Pegasus 2018
Photo: Coglianese Photos

Gun Runner captures Pegasus World Cup 2018 at Gulfstream Park

One year later, Horse of the Year Gunman extended his career with a race to run in the Pegasus for $16.3 million. Even if Pegasus has been reduced to $3 million, the 2020 arrival of the $20 million Saudi Arabia Cup in late February has transformed winter and early spring into the wealthiest times of the year. year for seniors with a trio of selections including Pegasus January 29, Saudi Arabia Cup February 26 (G1) and Dubai World Cup March 26 sponsored by Emirates Airlines (G1) grants for $12 million.

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Even without a computer, horseback riders can see that $35 million is now enough to take in winter wonderland for them, and it’s no surprise to see more and more top stars are training for another race or an additional race season, even at the high cost of insuring valuable racehorses.

“These winter races are game-changing because they allow you to keep a horse during training and justify the cost of insurance,” said Elliott Walden, president, chief executive and racing officer. as well as the risk you take on the horse’s reputation” manager of WinStar Farm. “I think fans don’t understand very well the financial commitment it takes to keep a training horse. When you’re talking about a 15-20 million dollar horse, the premium on that is like you have to win. That’s a $600,000 to a million dollar premium That’s why Pegasus and the Middle East races have really changed the game in terms of being able to keep a horse during training.”

During Saturday’s Pegasus at Gulfstream Park, Knicks Go will be the latest star to bow in the last winter before becoming a stallion. Owned by the Korea Racing Authority, his ties wasted little time on targeting a farewell race in Pegasus as they said shortly after his son Payer won the Classic to seal Horse of the Year title because he will stay in training for a chance to score consecutive wins at Pegasus.

Jun Park, track manager for the KRA said: “We are very much looking forward to seeing the Knicks Go race one last time at Pegasus. “It would be an honor to run Pegasus again.”

That would indeed be an honor and it could well be financially rewarding for the Brad Cox-trained 6-year-old with a winner’s purse of about $1.7 million.

Fans will be rewarded with a blockbuster match to kick off the 2022 racing season in the Pegasus clash between the Knicks Go and the Big Ass Fans’ Dirt Mile (G1) Cup winner. Life is good .

“I’ve been in this game for a long time and I’m really excited,” said Mike Lakow, vice president of racing operations at Gulfstream Park. “With Flight route Running no more than seven hairs, Knicks Go and Life Is Good are the two best horses in the country. I suspect Knicks Go will be the Horse of the Year (when it’s announced on February 10) and Life Is Good has a decent chance of being the 3-year-old leading the way. I can’t wait to race and watch them run. “

When the Pegasus concept was first announced by Belinda and Frank Stronach in 2016, the real idea was to give the best horses a reason to keep racing. While that was happening, Gulfstream spread its wealth by initiating a bet of $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf presented by Baccarat (G1T) in 2019 and an additional $500,000 TAA Pegasus World Cup Filly & Mare Turf Bets presented by PEPSI (G3T).

Colonel Liam won the Pegasus World Cup 2021 on the pitch
Photo: Coglianese Photos

Colonel Liam won the Pegasus World Cup 2021 on the pitch

Lakow said adding a race on filthy grass and mares as opposed to filth for that division has led to the prospect of a pitch much larger than turf.

“The Pegasus Turf had 12 horses and it was a spectacular race. Pegasus Filly & Mare Turf had 11 really good runners the first year,” Lakow said. “It’s a lot of work but when you get horses like this it’s well worth it. The idea comes from (chairman, chief executive officer and president of 1/ST and The Stronach Group) Belinda Stronach and it was enthusiastically supported.”

Besides those three Pegasus races, including Colonel Liam was looking for an encore win in the Pegasus Turf, the glare from having so many famous class 1 winners in hand allowed Gulfstream Parks to put together an excellent 12-race card with seven stakes distributed. type.

“I can’t wait for this race day,” Lakow said.

While change comes this year in the form of a race on the Filly & Mare field, it will be interesting to see what happens in the future given the gap between Pegasus and two international stakes.

Currently, the four weeks between the January 29 Pegasus and the February 26 Saudi Arabia Cup, leaves little time for a horse to run in the Pegasus and head to Saudi Arabia. That’s why Hot Rod Charlie and Mandaloun in particular, skipped Pegasus to run in the Saudi Cup.

Four weeks after the Saudi Arabia Cup, the Dubai World Cup took place on March 26, a relatively short distance in this day and age.

“In the future, I’d like to see more time between races so you can create a series of races,” Walden said. “With going from the US, it’s going to be very difficult to run in both and the Pegasus. I think they’re seeing that and you see the races change over time. The Arkansas Derby (G1) is now five weeks ahead of the Kentucky Derby. (G1) instead of the traditional three weeks. I hope you’ll see the gap between the three races in the future.”

Distances and different dates will help create a sequence as a horse running in the Saudi Cup will miss most if not all of that year’s breeding season due to quarantine issues and will often race in the rest of the year.

Extending three races, however, was a pain in the ass because each track offers its race on a date that works for them. In particular, at Gulfstream, the date comes about five weeks after the traditional opening date of December 26 at its sister track, Santa Anita . Parkwhich had potential Pegasus predecessors that day in the Runhappy Malibu Stakes (G1) and San Antonio Stakes (G2).

“We’re trying to use the Santa Anita races as a premise for our races, so that makes us skip them four or five weeks and then we’ll be ahead of the Arabian Cup. Saudi Arabia four weeks If we move our race to buy more time for the Saudi Cup, it won’t work for the California horses and we definitely owe them a slot to run those races. his better horse,” Lakow said. “Maybe that makes the Saudi Cup too close for some riders but they can use Pegasus as a beautiful preparation for the Dubai World Cup.”

Past experience and current planning show how pleasant the Pegasus to Dubai road will be as Arrogate wins both races in 2017 and Life Is Good is expected to target the Dubai race if Everything went well on Saturday and he thrived in the new winter wonderland for older horses.

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