From its use of stakeholders to boost the purse and help recruit horses, alternate entries, and weight allowance for horses racing without race-day furosemide, the Jan. 28 Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1) at Gulfstream Park will offer innovative ideas on several race-condition fronts.
The stakeholder approach, in which backers purchased entries for $1 million each for either their horse or with owners to run a horse, has been the biggest and most-publicized new approach, but wrinkles on the race's approach to entries and race-day furosemide (Salix, commonly called Lasix) also are worth following.
The $1 million cost to enter is fueling the purse of the world's richest race, in which $7 million will go to the winner, $1.75 million to second, $1 million to third, and $250,000 to horses finishing fourth through 12th.
The stakeholder approach will generate the $12 million in purse money needed to attract the world's two top-ranked horses of 2016 according to the Longines World's Best Racehorse rankings released Jan. 24. With that purse money in place, the connections of California Chrome opted to race one more time before beginning his stallion career this season while Arrogate will ship across the country for an early start to his 4-year-old season.
The stakeholder approach also helped ensure that entries for the 12-horse race would fill. Typically formidable competition like California Chrome and Arrogate at the top of a race might have owners looking for an easier spot. But the $12 million purse, and more specifically a format that saw stakeholders pay for their million-dollar entry last year for a race that guarantees $250,000 a starter, helped motivate stakeholders to find horses to fill their slots. The stakeholders helped recruit six grade 1 winners to the expected full field of 12.
Gulfstream Park president Tim Ritvo noted that it's typically difficult to find eight or nine handicap horses to compete in January. Last year's $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1), which the Pegasus replaces at Gulfstream, attracted eight starters. The Pegasus saw a full field of 12 entered along with three alternates, who also are eligible for the $400,000 Poseidon Handicap on the day's undercard. That race, which will go as Race 5 Saturday, has attracted a total of nine entries.
"We have 12 horses in the Pegasus and we have nine horses in the Poseidon, which was the back-up race for the also-eligible horses," Ritvo said. "To have 21 older, handicap horses in this area, at this time of year (is impressive). Normally we struggle to get like eight or nine horses in the Donn.
"So obviously having the shareholders put up the money, the $12 million purse; it's definitely made a difference in say what the Donn would be this time of year."
Three of the stakeholders took advantage of the alternate entries that allowed a stakeholder to enter a back-up horse on Jan. 23. Should something happen to their top horse, the stakeholder will be allowed to run their back-up.
The format is different than traditional also-eligibles, as these horses cannot get in the field unless the top horse tied to their stakeholder is scratched from the race.
The three stakeholders with backups are Coolmore Stud, which is using its entry to run Juddmonte Farms' Arrogate and has a back-up of grade II winner Stanford. Reeves Thoroughbred Racing features Gunpowder Farms, West Point Thoroughbreds, and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing's Canadian classic winner Breaking Lucky as its entry with Sea Raven as alternate. California Chrome LLC has backed up its namesake entry with alternate Madefromlucky, a two-time grade II winner.
Ritvo said in crafting the Pegasus, the Stronach Group thought it was important to give stakeholders an option to enter an alternate to avoid the situation of spending a million dollars to get in the race and then have some race-week development keep them from starting a horse.
As for the five-pound allowance for horses starting without race-day Salix, Ritvo said Stronach Group chairman Frank Stronach would like to eventually see the race evolve to being free of race-day medication. Last year Gulfstream offered several 2-year-old races in which race-day medication was not allowed.
Ritvo said as a former horseman for more than 25 years, he understands it could be asking a lot for North American-based trainers to suddenly race under different conditions. The five-pound weight allowance is a compromise.
"That was one of the incentives that the chairman wanted to put in there to see if he could incentivize people that had horses that weren't running on Lasix," Ritvo said, "and also to reach out to the international horses—saying, 'Well, you have a five-pound weight advantage if you continue to run your horse without Lasix.'"
The one horse in the field taking advantage of the weight allowance is Eragon, a three-time group I winner in South America who will make his U.S. debut for new owner (and stakeholder) Jim McIngvale. Eragon is to start at 119 pounds while the rest of the field is scheduled to carry 124 pounds. Trainer Laura Wohlers welcomes the break.
"It's our normal M.O. to run without Lasix anyway, so the weight allowance gives us an advantage," Wohlers said. "What has surprised me is that not more people are taking advantage of that."
Wohlers thinks it's been three to five years since McIngvale has raced a horse on Lasix.
"That's why we went to Argentina to buy this horse. They can't race on Lasix there in graded stakes, so we knew he could run without it," Wohlers said. "This horse has been carrying 130 pounds in Argentina and he'll get in here with 119--that's a big difference."
Evan Hammonds contributed to this story.
Gulfstream Park, Saturday, January 28, 2017, Race 12
- 1 1/8m
- 4 yo's & up
- 5:40 PM (local)
|1||1Arrogate (KY)||Mike E. Smith||124||Bob Baffert||7/5|
|2||2Prayer for Relief (KY)||Florent Geroux||124||Dale L. Romans||50/1|
|3||3Neolithic (KY)||John R. Velazquez||124||Todd A. Pletcher||30/1|
|4||4Noble Bird (KY)||Julien R. Leparoux||124||Mark E. Casse||25/1|
|5||5War Story (KY)||Antonio A. Gallardo||124||Jorge Navarro||50/1|
|6||6War Envoy (KY)||Luis Saez||124||Mick Ruis||50/1|
|7||7Shaman Ghost (ON)||Jose L. Ortiz||124||James A. Jerkens||20/1|
|8||8Semper Fortis (KY)||Tyler Gaffalione||124||Doug F. O'Neill||50/1|
|9||9Keen Ice (KY)||Javier Castellano||124||Todd A. Pletcher||12/1|
|10||10Breaking Lucky (ON)||Luis Contreras||124||Reade Baker||25/1|
|11||11Eragon (ARG)||Edgar S. Prado||119||Laura Wohlers||50/1|
|12||12California Chrome (CA)||Victor Espinoza||124||Art Sherman||6/5|
|13||13Stanford (KY)||John R. Velazquez||124||Todd A. Pletcher||10/1|
|14||14Sea Raven (NY)||Luis Contreras||124||Kelly Rubley||50/1|
|15||15Madefromlucky (KY)||Javier Castellano||124||Todd A. Pletcher||15/1|
Gulfstream Park, Saturday, January 28, 2017, Race 5
- 1 1/8m
- 4 yo's & up
- 1:30 PM (local)
|1||1Mylute (KY)||Tyler Gaffalione||115||Ralph E. Nicks||10/1|
|2||2Ranger in Paradise (KY)||Luis H. Colon||111||Elizabeth L. Dobles||30/1|
|3||3Imperative (KY)||Antonio A. Gallardo||118||Robert B. Hess, Jr.||9/2|
|4||4Stanford (KY)||John R. Velazquez||120||Todd A. Pletcher||1/1|
|5||5Cherry Wine (KY)||Corey J. Lanerie||113||Dale L. Romans||12/1|
|6||6Madefromlucky (KY)||Javier Castellano||117||Todd A. Pletcher||7/2|
|7||7Papa Zulu (KY)||Luis Contreras||112||William B. Bradley||20/1|
|8||8Fearless Dragon (KY)||Paco Lopez||110||Eric J. Guillot||30/1|
|9||9Hy Riverside (FL)||Jose L. Ortiz||116||Antonio Sano||12/1|