Wednesday, September 26, 2018
HALLANDALE BEACH – Bob Baffert doesn’t know who he may saddle in the $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational or $7 million Pegasus World Cup Turf, but one thing is for certain. “I’ll be there with something,” Baffert said.
Baffert isn’t the only one who plans on being at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 26 for the Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series. Trainer Todd Pletcher is hoping to bring Florida Derby and Holy Bull winner Audible back to South Florida for the Pegasus and possibly Man o’War and Pan American winner Hi Happy for the World Cup Turf.
Chad Brown, who saddled the filly Stellar Wind in the 2018 edition of the Pegasus, said he would “love to have horses in both races.”
In just two years, the Pegasus has grown into a major racing event – “It’s very positive they’re having it and it’s still a lot of money,” Baffert said, and the addition of the Pegasus World Cup Turf is expected to turn the day into an international day of racing.
“The new turf race is exciting,” said Brown, who set a record for most wins by a trainer this summer at Saratoga. “I think the timing of the race and the distance (1 3/16 miles) makes a lot of sense. I have some prospects in mind, but there’s a lot of time between now and then and we’ll have to hope those horses stay healthy and continue to develop.”
The addition of the World Turf Cup “can hopefully bring some European and international runners and, between the two races, multiply who shows up,” Pletcher said. But he also says both of the Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational races are contested at the right time on the calendar. “If you look at a horse like [2018 Pegasus winner] Gun Runner, it gives them one more opportunity to run a race before they go to stud for a significant purse. It also ties in well with the Dubai World Cup.”
“It gives you an opportunity for a horse that’s maybe not had such a long campaign, maybe a horse who got started a little later in the year who’s rounding into form and it gives them an opportunity for a good purse,” Brown said. “For horses who have had a long season there is a little bit of a dilemma. Do you keep going or give them the rest you had planned? They’re awfully big races, both of them are, and with huge prize money at stake. So if you have a horse good enough, you would almost have to keep him going and point toward the race. It would be really hard to sit out with one of the main contenders.”
Along with a day of world-class racing, the Pegasus has also become one of sport’s most colorful days, attracting new fans, celebrities, and major entertainment. “It’s a fun day,” said Baffert, who saddled inaugural Pegasus winner Arrogate. “You can tell everyone in the grandstand is having fun. It’s a good crowd. Plus, [The Stronach Group’s Chairman and President] Belinda [Stronach] brought in [multi-platinum recording artist] Post Malone. They had a tent and I got to hang out there. It’s a big deal. It’s an event. I think it’s very important these things get off the ground.”
Pletcher agreed Pegasus has been a success. “You can tell by the crowds it’s attracted, the handle it’s attracted. It’s something the racing world is watching,” he said. “Any time you bring a huge purse like that it attracts attention in the community. It brings people to the races that could just be casual race goers. They want to show up for those marquee events. It certainly attracts a new crowd, a different crowd that you normally don’t get, which is important because you want new people to go to the races."
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