Owner Paul Pompa Jr. said Dec. 29 that multiple graded stakes winner Connect will not run in the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (gr. I) and will instead be pointed to a 2017 campaign with the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park as a likely initial target.
Connect, trained by Chad Brown, won the Cigar Mile (gr. I) last month at Aqueduct Racetrack and Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) in September at Parx Racing and was considered a prime candidate to fill one of the five currently vacant spots for starters in the first running of the Pegasus World Cup Jan. 28 at Gulfstream Park.
"It's not in the best interest of the horse to run in the Pegasus," Pompa said. "He's had a hard campaign and he's just getting acclimated to Florida. I talked to Chad and he feels this is the best way to keep him sound for a 2017 campaign."
Bred in Kentucky by Fox Straus, Connect is a 3-year-old son of Curlin —Bullville Belle, by Holy Bull. Connect has won five of his seven starts with earnings of $1,250,000. His lone loss in six 2016 starts was a sixth-place finish in the Travers Stakes (gr. I).
Earlier in the day, the seventh of 12 $1 million starting spots in the Pegasus was filled when Loooch Racing Stables and its partners finalized a deal to have Queens County Stakes winner War Story race for stakeholder Dan Schafer.