The Stronach Group (TSG), owners of the Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series, announced major changes to the event set to be run Jan. 25 at Gulfstream Park.
Included among the moves are significant purse reductions and a new medication-free format. Two percent of the purses will also be donated to Thoroughbred aftercare.
The Pegasus World Cup was first run in 2017 with a purse of $12 million. The entry fee to guarantee a spot in the starting gate was $1 million, with owners of the fifth through 12th place finishers guaranteed a payoff of $250,000. In 2018, the same $1 million entry fee guaranteed a spot in the gate while racing for a purse of $16 million. Each starter in the 2018 race was guaranteed a minimum purse payment of $650,000.
In 2019, TSG introduced the Pegasus World Cup Turf. The purse for the Pegasus World Cup was cut to $9 million, while the new Pegasus World Cup Turf offered a purse of $7 million. The entry fee for both races was $500,000. There was a minimum purse payment of $350,000 in the Inaugural Pegasus World Cup Turf and a minimum $200,000 purse payment in the Pegasus World Cup.
For 2020, the Pegasus World Cup will have a purse of $3 million, while the Pegasus World Cup Turf will have a purse of $1 million. Both races will be by invitation only with all entry fees being waived.
The other change in policy will be that both races will be run under a medication-free format.
“We are investing in the future of our sport by creating new opportunities for horsemen and horses to run without medication,” Belinda Stronach, Chairman and President of The Stronach Group, said in a press release Sunday. “The Pegasus World Cup Invitational Series has always been about innovation. The new and exciting medication-free format, along with giving back to horse care, showcases the leadership our industry is taking together to evolve beyond past achievements to create a more modern, sustainable and safer sport.”
Good or bad?
Will the changes help or hurt? The previous steep entry fees for the Pegasus World Cup resulted in problems trying to entice full fields. One immediate positive with the waiving of all entry fees should be more potential invitees willing to take a shot at the seven-figure purses without a six-figure loss for the connections of horses that do not fare well.
The negative may be drawing marquee names to the Pegasus World Cup, especially with the new Saudi Cup at King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Saudi Arabia on Feb. 29 offering a purse of $20 million. The Saudi Cup will be a 1-1/8 miles one-turn dirt race in which the winner receives $10 million, with $3.5 million for second, $2 million for third, and $1.5 million for fourth.
Gary West, owner Maximum Security, said after his three-year-old won the Gr. I Cigar Mile that the next goal would be the Pegasus World Cup. He told the Blood Horse he was “mystified, bewildered, and upset” with the timing of the announced changes just 41 days before the race. Now he is not so sure where Maximum Security will run next.
“Cutting the purse to $3 million is an absolute game-changer,” said West. “I wasn’t thinking about the Saudi Cup, but why should I run for $3 million when I can run for $20 million four weeks later? There’s now a better than 50/50 chance we’ll go to the Saudi race.”
The short notice was also a concern to trainer Chad Brown.
“I’ll discuss things with my clients to see if they still want to run under the new format,” Brown told the Thoroughbred Daily News. “In addition to Instilled Regard, I had some others I was considering for the (Pegasus World Cup Turf). With the new Lasix rules, I’m going to have to go back and evaluate which horses we will be running and which ones we will not.”
One contender for the Pegasus World Cup has not altered plans. Omaha Beach, runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, is still likely for the Pegasus World Cup. Since Omaha Beach is likely to be retired to stud after the race, shipping out of the country and back so close to the start of breeding season does not appear to be an attractive option.
Lindo Report Play for Gaming Today: Fair Grounds, Saturday, Race 5 — Cask (No. 7). Juvenile improved when switched to the turf Nov 30. He now adds blinkers and the race over the course should do him plenty of good.