The Inaugural Pegasus World Cup Invitational went off with a bang yesterday at Gulfstream Park. The beautiful track located in Hallendale Beach, FL, just outside of Miami, was the backdrop for the richest horse race in the world. With a $12 million dollar purse on the line, the race that was imagined by the Stronach Group drew in some of the best racehorses from around the country to see who would prevail and become one of the best of all time.
The headlining duo in the field was Arrogate and California Chrome. You may remember these guys from the 2016 Breeder’s Cup Classic, when Arrogate upset Chrome to take the win. Well, it happened again and it played out in peculiar fashion.
Here are eight interesting things that went down in the first Pegasus World Cup:
- California Chrome just wasn’t himself. He, no doubt, is one of the best racehorses of all time and still holds on to the record as the richest North American racehorse of all time with over $14 million dollars in career earnings. However, it was clear that it just wasn’t Chrome’s day. As he came around the second turn, trailing behind Arrogate by a few lengths, it was clear that he was not putting forth the effort we saw in the 2014 Kentucky Derby or the 2016 Dubai World Cup. It reminded us all that no matter how great a horse is, he is not a machine. The 6-year-old finished in a respectable 9th place.
- Shaman Ghost, owned by Stronach Stables with the familiar Adena Springs silks (yes, that’s the same Adena Springs familiar to show jumping, they own Cian O’Connor’s Good Luck) came from mid-pack to finish in 2nd place. He was definitely not a heavy favorite, but his stretch run was particularly impressive as he charged past Neolithic to solidify 2nd place. What a horse!
- By the way, did you expect Neolithic to finish 3rd? Not a lot of people did! The 4-year-old by Harlan’s Holiday had 30-1 morning line odds going into the race, but held his own for most of the race, staying close to early leader Noble Bird until Arrogate outran them in the stretch run.
- This race featured the top 3 horses from the 2016 Breeder’s Cup Classic: Arrogate, California Chrome, and Keen Ice. Keen Ice had decent morning line odds of 12-1 and had the support of fans who remember him as “that horse that beat American Pharoah in the Travers Stakes” but Keen Ice, a 5-year-old son of Horse of the Year, Curlin, ended up finishing in a modest 4th place, rounding out a hefty superfecta that paid out $463.90.
- Prayer for Relief, owned by The Zayat Stables of American Pharoah fame, went out as the oldest horse in the field at 9 years of age. The son of Jump Start didn’t seem to fire, in similar fashion to Chrome, and finished in 10th place. Post race, there was buzz on Twitter from some fans hoping that the horse (who hasn’t won a race since 2015) will retire.
- Eragon’s name may remind you of a dragon, but this colt wasn’t breathing fire yesterday. He went out as a complete long shot for good reason. Owner James McIngvale, who is known for his mattress stores, didn’t have a suitable horse for the Pegasus already established in his stable. So, he purchased Eragon, an Argentinian bred 6-year-old who had 20 starts under his girth, and was considered to be a lightly raced horse. He ended up finishing last, but it will be interesting to see where he goes next.
- O Canada! Breaking Lucky is familiar with tracks in the land up north. He is the 2015 winner of the Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie in Ontario and many races at Woodbine near Toronto. In his second Gulfstream start since his debut at the track in 2015, he didn’t seem to have a good day. Breaking Lucky ran out of luck and found himself crossing the line in 8th place.
- One horse that was not in the race at all was the 142nd Kentucky Derby third place finisher Gun Runner, a horse that many thought would be a heavy contender among the 12-horse field. Sadly, the EHV-1 virus outbreak at Fairground Race Course in New Orleans, LA, where the colt was training is still under quarantine. Add that to the state of Florida prohibiting any horse from a race with an EHV-1 outbreak from transporting in — it was a formula that kept him shut out. Maybe next year?
The Pegasus World Cup Invitational has set a new standard in horse racing. Now the richest horse race in the world, it will give trainers, owners, and horses something to look forward to during the winter racing season. The payouts for the finishers aren’t too bad either. Arrogate trotted away with $7 million dollars in his hay net, Shaman Ghost earned $1,750,000 and Neolithic lucked out with $1,000,000.
If you finished 4th or worse? You still got $250,000! This race will definitely keep horses around a little longer, as a lot of successful horses tend to retire to stud after they hit their peak (A lá Pharoah and Nyquist, for example.) Much like the Stronach Group set out to do, this race has “modernized and elevated the sport of horse racing for the next generation of fans.” It will be a race to look forward to for years to come.