On Monday, Jan. 16, the final two slots for the inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational were filled, just 12 days before the race is scheduled to be run at Gulfstream Park. The brainchild of Frank Stronach, the Pegasus contest truly began when the race was first announced in January of last year. Details were finalized on May 11, and just days later all 12 slots had been sold for $1 million apiece to the following groups: Frank Stronach, James McIngvale, Sol Kumin and James Covello, Coolmore, Reddam Racing, California Chrome LLC, Daniel Schafer, Jerry & Ronald Frankel, Starlight Pegasus Partners, Reeves Thoroughbreds, Jeff Weiss & Rosedown Racing, and Ruis Racing.
It took a bit longer, however, for horses to fill all of those slots. The California Chrome LLC ownership group purchased one of the original spots, so the big chestnut has been pointing to the race from the start. Sol Kumin and James Covello sold their slot to Earle Mack in September. After Runhappy's retirement, owner James McIngvale went all the way to Argentina to purchase Group 1 winner Eragon for the race.
Most of the biggest movement in the starting gate, however, came following the Breeders' Cup Classic, in which California Chrome suffered a stunning defeat to relative newcomer Arrogate. Arrogate was suddenly the hottest ticket on the market for the Pegasus, because Juddmonte did not own a slot in the gate. On Dec. 22, it was announced that Coolmore had sold its spot in the gate to Juddmonte, ensuring Arrogate a berth in the big dance.
The rest of the owners began announcing their final selections over the next few weeks:
- Shaman Ghost will run for his owner Frank Stronach
- Keen Ice, owned by Jerry Crawford's Donegal Racing, will run in the spot of Jerry and Ronald Frankel
- War Story, owned by Loooch Racing and Partners, will run in the spot of Dan Schafer
- Neolithic will run for owner Starlight Racing
- Breaking Lucky, owned by Gunpoweder Farms, will run in the spot of Reeves Thoroughbreds
- Prayer for Relief, owned by Zayat Stables, will run in the spot of Jeff Weiss and Rosedown Racing
- War Envoy will run for owner Ruis Racing
- Ralis will run for owner Reddam Racing
- Noble Bird, owned by John Oxley, will run in the spot of Earle Mack
Overall, the field for the first running of the world's richest race is expected to be made up of the following horses: California Chrome, Arrogate, Keen Ice, Neolithic, Shaman Ghost, Eragon, War Story, War Envoy, Breaking Lucky, Ralis, Noble Bird, and Prayer for Relief.
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