In a deal aimed to appease stakeholders who purchased slots before the deadline for the 2018 Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1), three horses expected to start in slots purchased by The Stronach Group for the Jan. 27 race would see their earnings shared with other stakeholders should any register a top-three placing.
Under the agreement, detailed Jan. 22 by The Stronach Group chief operating officer Tim Ritvo, should one of the horses starting in the three Stronach Group slots earn more than $1 million by placing in one of the three top spots, the $1 million buy-in would be paid back to The Stronach Group and then any additional earnings would be split 50-50 between the owner and other participants.
For instance, if one of the three horses won the race—earning $7 million—$1 million would be paid back to The Stronach Group, $3 million would be paid to the horse's owner, and $3 million would be divided among all of the race's other stakeholders. The three horses will start under the lessee name Pegasus Race Participants.
"The people who decided after the race to run, in our opinion, should not get as good a deal as the nine who joined up (on time)," Ritvo said. "We decided that we needed to buy up these last three spots, make sure that the people who decide to run in these spots—regardless of how good their horse is—are only eligible for a certain part of the deal."
Those three horses include San Antonio Stakes (G2) winner Giant Expectations, 2017 Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) fourth-place finisher War Story, and possibly grade 1-placed Giuseppe the Great or grade 2-placed Game Over.
Going forward, Ritvo said the race would like to increase its international participation—especially from dirt horses racing in Asia. Ritvo said he and Mike Rogers, president of the racing division for The Stronach Group, made trips to Hong Kong and Japan this year and they hope that outreach leads to horsemen from Asia sending starters in upcoming years.
In a teleconference Monday, Ritvo updated many of the ideas that have been floated for the ever-evolving Pegasus. He acknowledged that there were discussions of moving the race to Santa Anita Park, but noted that The Stronach Group chairman and president Belinda Stronach is optimistic about the potential of the event to grow in South Florida.
Ritvo said it's also a possibility that a separate, similar race could be added at Santa Anita and that a turf race could be added at Laurel Park. Ritvo said the added interest in turf racing in North America, and the opportunities to attract international runners, make the idea of adding a turf race attractive. He said it could be contested on the same day as the Pegasus or a different date, perhaps serving as a Breeders' Cup prep.
The Stronach Group also continues to evaluate the 1 1/8-mile distance of the Pegasus. At Gulfstream, that distance has proven difficult for horses who draw outside posts. Ritvo said the initial idea was that the massive purse and current distance might be enough for trainers to stretch out milers just a bit. But he said participants have raised concerns about drawing outside posts.
"We struggle with that, and figuring out what the solution is," Ritvo said. "It could be backing it up to 1 3/16 or even 1 1/4 miles, but then it becomes a true classic distance race where you wouldn't be able to get a miler. That's been one of the issues we've looked at; maybe something happens next year. It's not something you can change a couple of weeks before the race. When people bought in, this was the distance."