Joe DiOrio

Stronach Group Expects 12 Pegasus Runners

Gulfstream Park officials see field taking shape.

Pegasus World Cup 2.0 will go on as promised Jan. 27 at Gulfstream Park—at least that’s the word from the Stronach Group.

Compared with last year at this time, there are fewer shareholders who have purchased entries. And there has been less specific information about entries in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1), which is less than eight weeks away. But new Gulfstream general manager Bill Badgett said Dec. 2 there would be 12 horses and each would put up the $1 million ante to enter the 1 1/8-mile race, which this year will offer a $16 million purse.

Badgett said he has a list of about 10 horses who are targeting the race and several other possibilities, noting “We will have 12."

The first Pegasus boasted a rematch of California Chrome , who a week before the race secured his second Horse of the Year honor, and 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) conqueror Arrogate . The second edition might not have that kind of wow factor, but could have three reigning Eclipse champions when the awards for 2017 are handed out at Gulfstream two days before the race.

Gun Runner , expected to be named Horse of the Year, is a definite for the Pegasus, said Ron Winchell of Winchell Thoroughbreds, which owns the son of Candy Ride  in partnership with Three Chimneys Farm.

Breeders' Cup Distaff champion Forever Unbridled, a favorite for outstanding older female Eclipse, also is being pointed to the Pegasus. West Coast, third-place finisher in the Classic and a strong Eclipse candidate in the 3-year-old male division is another candidate.

Collected, a stablemate of West Coast in the Bob Baffert barn who dueled with Gun Runner for much of the Classic and held on for second, is on the list of probables, according to Badgett. War Story, fourth in the Classic, and Gunnevera, who dead-heated with Arrogate for fifth, are others with the Pegasus in their sights.

After Sharp Azteca earned his first grade 1 victory Dec. 2 in the Cigar Mile Handicap presented by NYRA Bets (G1), trainer Jorge Navarro threw the son of Freud into the mix. "After this performance, why not," Navarro said.

Other potential runners for the Pegasus include Clark Handicap presented by Norton Healthcare (G1) winner Seeking the Soul, who like Forever Unbridled is owned by Charles Fipke and trained by Dallas Stewart; and Neolithic, who ran third to Arrogate in the 2017 Pegasus. Stronach is also expected to be represented in the race.