The Pegasus World Cup is being planned for Jan. 26 at Gulfstream Park and will feature a $9 million purse and a companion grass race, the $7 million World Cup Turf Invitational, according to Gulfstream’s parent company, The Stronach Group.
A slot for each race will cost $500,000, according to Tim Ritvo, the chief operating officer of The Stronach Group, half of what the slots cost last year. But the purse for the Pegasus also has been slashed from $16 million to $9 million, with $4 million going to the winner and each owner guaranteed at least $200,000 in earnings regardless of finish, according to Ritvo. The winner’s share of the $7 million turf race will be $3 million, Ritvo said, with all runners guaranteed to earn at least $200,000 as well.
For the 2018 Pegasus, every horse was guaranteed at least $650,000 in purse earnings, meaning that the most any slot holder could lose was $350,000, rather than $300,000 in the two races this year.
Ritvo said The Stronach Group added the turf race because the company believes international horsemen will be drawn to a grass race. The turf race is being planned for 1 3/16 miles, while the Pegasus dirt race will remain at 1 1/8 miles.
“We’re excited,” Ritvo said. “We think the grass race really opens the event up to the world. Hopefully, we can get some of those European horses who come over for the Breeders’ Cup to stay for another race.”
The World Cup Turf has been designated a Grade 1 race by the American Graded Stakes Committee, according to the committee’s secretary, Andy Schweigardt, because the race technically is the rebranding of a Grade 1 race at Gulfstream, the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap, despite the change in the conditions for nominating to the race. The Turf Handicap was also one-sixteenth of a mile shorter at 1 1/8 miles.
Under similar reasoning, the graded stakes committee had granted the Pegasus Grade 1 status before it was ever run, because Gulfstream dropped the Grade 1 Donn Handicap to make room for the race.
The Stronach Group has only begun marketing slots in the two races, Ritvo said. Groups who purchased slots last year have the first right to buy slots, but that right will expire Oct. 18, Ritvo said.
“There are calls coming in, but nothing official as of yet, since we just sent this out [Tuesday],” Ritvo said.
Bob Baffert, who trains last year’s 3-year-old male champion, West Coast, the runner-up in the 2018 Pegasus, said that the colt’s owner, Gary West, has not yet discussed with him whether he will buy a slot. When West Coast was put back into training in August after finishing second in the March 31 Dubai World Cup, West said the immediate goals were the Breeders’ Cup Classic and, if possible, the Pegasus.
“We haven’t talked about it, and I just saw that the details came out,” Baffert said on Wednesday morning. “I do know that $16 million sounds a lot sexier than $9 million.”
Last year, three slots for the Pegasus remained unsold two weeks prior to the race, leading The Stronach Group to buy the unsold slots. The company then reached deals with horse owners that allowed them to start in the race for free but only share in the purse earnings of the race if the horses finished in the first three places.
Ritvo said the same policies will be in place in January for the two races if slots are unsold. All deals reached by The Stronach Group with owners who have not purchased a slot outright will be subject to approval from the slot holders in the race, Ritvo said.
The Stronach Group will award a $1 million bonus if the same owner wins the Pegasus and the World Cup Turf. In addition, Gulfstream will offer a wager for the two races requiring the bettor to pick the exact finishing order of each race. If a bettor picks the exact order of one race, the payout will be $5 million, while if a bettor picks the exact order of both races, the payout will be $15 million, Ritvo said.
Both the owner’s bonus and the betting payouts are being covered by insurance policies that are still being negotiated, Ritvo said.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
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