As the richest race in the world closes in on its debut, organizers of the inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup (gr. I) are already identifying future innovations. Along with potentially holding the race—set for Jan. 28 at Gulfstream Park—at Santa Anita Park in California in 2018, members of The Stronach Group have also considered adding a turf race that would be run under similar conditions as the Pegasus.
"There's definitely talk of having a turf race as well, that's going to add another dimension," said Mike Rogers, president of racing for The Stronach Group. "The details still need to be worked out, but I spoke with (Stronach Group founder) Frank (Stronach) about it a little bit and I think if we put on a turf race, we can get even more international participation."
Organized with a unique shareholder system, the 12 spots in the starting gate for the Pegasus were sold for $1 million each to investors, who then could run a horse or sell their spot to owners with potential contenders. Such a transaction recently occurred between Coolmore and Juddmonte Farms, with the latter purchasing Coolmore's place in order to run Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Arrogate in the 1 1/8-mile test for a rematch with California Chrome . The potential turf race would be organized under similar shareholder conditions, Rogers said.
As far as international contenders for the upcoming Pegasus dirt race are concerned, owner James McIngvale purchased Argentinian group I winner Eragon (ARG), a son of Offlee Wild, to compete in the Pegasus. Rogers said the connections of Hong Kong's Gun Pit (AUS) and Chilean group I winner Big Daddy (CHI) are interested in the race, although they are not currently confirmed.
When Frank Stronach originally introduced the concept of the Pegasus World Cup on Jan. 26, 2016 at the Thoroughbred Owner Conference at Gulfstream, he mentioned the potential of the race transitioning between Santa Anita and Gulfstream for its stage.
"We're definitely looking forward to having the inaugural event this year at Gulfstream," Rogers said. "Once this race is through, we'll sit down with all the stakeholders and discuss additional options. Gulfstream is a beautiful facility but it's definitely a lot smaller than Santa Anita and it doesn't have the same number of premium dining seating options that hosting an event of this caliber clearly requires. We have a high demand for those kinds of tickets, and that's where we find the challenge at Gulfstream, and we know Santa Anita is more than capable of pulling off major events."
The namesake of the Pegasus is Pegasus and Dragon, a mammoth statue of the mythical horse commissioned by The Stronach Group. Installed in 2014, the piece is surpassed in size in the U.S. only by the Statue of Liberty.
"This Pegasus statue is so powerful, the thought of moving the race away from the statue was a major story," said Rogers. "Clearly, the brand will travel. We can't move the statue, but we can definitely move the brand."