Then There Was One: Stronach Group Makes Deals For Two Of Final Three Pegasus Slots

by | 01.12.2018 | 6:57pm
War Story, shown galloping at Del Mar prior to the Breeders' Cup

Just nine of a possible 12 spots in the $16 million Pegasus World Cup had been sold by the deadline in mid-December, so The Stronach Group had to get creative to fill the remainder of the starting gate in the world's richest horse race. According to, TSG marketed those three remaining spots to horse owners for free, with the stipulation that the owner would receive only half of the horse's earnings above the $1 million price of the spot. The other half of those earnings will be distributed to owners who purchased slots prior to the deadline.

“We felt like we had to do it this way because we didn't want to give the last three people any better deal than anyone else,” said chief operating officer Tim Ritvo. “And I think in talking to everyone that they all think this is a great way to do it.”

Two of the three Stronach Group spots have already been signed for by Giant Expectations, last-out winner of the G2 San Antonio Stakes, and Ron Paolucci's War Story. Interestingly, Paolucci also owns one of the original spots in the Pegasus starting gate, but the owner brokered a deal to have Sharp Azteca race in that spot to give himself “the best chance to recoup” his money.

The winner of the Jan. 27 Pegasus World Cup earns a prize of $7 million, but if either War Story or Giant Expectations were to win the race, each would be eligible for $3 million in prize money under The Stronach Group's alternative structure. If those two finish fourth or worse, their owners get no payout whatsoever (with a net loss to TSG of $350,000).

Probable entrants in the second running of the Pegasus World Cup are as follows: Gun Runner, Sharp Azteca, Gunnevera, Collected, West Coast, Stellar Wind, Toast of New York, Seeking the Soul, Game Over, War Story, and Giant Expectations. Frank Stronach also owns one of the spots in the starting gate, but has yet to reveal which horse might represent him in the race.



    This race is starting to fall into the category of laughing stock. The representing group is now playing let’s make a deal.just because they build it it doesn’t mean they will come or in this case just because you write it it doesn’t mean they will fill it. Let this be a lesson to future race writers. QUALITY MAKES THE RACE NOT MONEY.

    • Neigh Sayer

      All 12 slots will be filled, just Stronach’s is left to put a horse in. Not sure about that quality versus money comment. What races will have or had the highest quality fields? The BC Classic and the Pegasus, with the Pegasus being as high if not higher quality than the Classic and of course those two races have by far the highest purses in this country.

      • Tinky


        So, you think that a $16m purse was necessary to draw these horses? Which ones wouldn’t have shown up for half that amount (or less)?

        It’s a ludicrous concept that results primarily from ego.

        • longshot

          All the foreign horse owners would have to do is put up the money. As of ludicrous , it’s like a high stakes poker game you have to have the money and guts to play

          • Tinky

            The couldn’t sell 25% of the slots this year. What does that tell you about the concept?

          • longshot

            So don’t watch it. There will be plenty of college basketball on that day

          • Lehane

            When people have had a genuine interest and participated in racing for a long time (as me and my family have), they have the right to voice their opinion about new concepts in racing. In fact, it is a contribution to the welfare of racing. Different views, opinions, ideas are essential for the smooth and successful running of any business, IMHO.

          • longshot

            Like it or not the race will go on, good concept or bad concept. 6 horses 8 horses 12 horses , European horses no European horses it will go on. Set back and enjoy. It will be all over in 2 minutes

          • Neigh Sayer

            Math doesn’t seem to be your strong suit, and you’ve already proven you knew little about this race. At the time of the deadline 9 of the 12 slots were sold which is 75%.

          • Ray

            For this kinda money, don’t you think that we should have invaders from The EU ,New Zealand and Australia.

            The fact that Aidan O’Brien does not have a runner is a ‘head shaker’,

            The race has attracted no Global interest. The UAE Gold Cup,

            pitched Cigar and Curlin against the best of the world.

            smaller purse, bigger event, dont believe me go there for the race.

            The Pegasus is a USA race that attracts American Horses, with American trainers for American Breeders. Unlike the BC which attracts global interest.

            the purse could be $ one million and 75 % of these horses would show up.

            This race distorts the lifetime earnings of many greater horses.

            Love the fact that Stronach gives away $16 million to the USA horse owners,

            but that does not make this a great race.

            Many thanks to Mr Stronach for his creativity,

            wish that he had been supported by the great horses from overseas.

            In that his marketing people failed ,

            Even at Yonkers NY, they have a successful international event for Trotters

            from Sweden, Denmark, USA, France, Norway, Italy, very year for $1 million.

            So I am wondering if this race is not being marketed , the UAE do a lot to pull the best horse both the UAE Gold cup…….. just saying.

          • Tinky

            The original design was, as I and others pointed out at the time, deeply flawed, and especially in terms of attracting overseas runners.

            Nine furlongs is not an important distance in any major jurisdiction. It is a ‘tweener’, so neither pure milers nor 10f. runners are ideally suited to it. Add to that that it is contested on dirt, and around tight turns, and you have virtually assured little if any serious foreign interest.

            To top it off, it is scheduled at a time when virtually every top-class European runner will be enjoying a well-deserved break.

            To add insult to injury, there are almost never more than one or two top-class dirt horses in the U.S. suited to the conditions. So essentially you will have one or two horses dominating the betting, and the rest, which are forgettable. $16m? It’s a joke, as it would be even at $6-8m.

          • Lehane

            Exactly. It speaks volumes.

        • Neigh Sayer

          Ha, Tinky seeks revenge. Show me where I said it was necessary for a 16 million dollar purse to draw these horses. Where did I say that? You seem to want to argue things I never said. I said the BC Classic and the Pegasus are the two biggest purses in this country and draw the best fields. And that is indisputable.
          So you’re saying this race has just one top class horse? You must really hate the BC Classic. This race will have the 2017 HOY, anything less that is not top class? There can be only one and the rest no good? Someone has to enter otherwise it’s just a walkover, do you really want that? This race will have the top five finishers in the Classic and only missing the one that is retired. Surely you knew this, maybe not or you wouldn’t say it has only one top class horse.

          • Tinky

            Yo have, as usual, missed the point.

            If the same quality field could have been attracted with half the purse (or less), then quite obviously the race is an example of a broken correlation between purse money and quality.

          • Neigh Sayer

            Ha, I haven’t missed the point at all, I always thought you were smarter than this. You simply made an unnecessary point that no one was arguing.

        • Jay

          Through the SECOND running ( just shows how wearing and ludicrous it is)

    • Billy Johnston

      AMEN to that ‘truthful’ statement That purse money could have helped fifty stables instead of 3 or 4
      Certainly in struflex Stronachs case
      (or the race)

      • Tom Davis

        If Frank Stronach wants to help fifty stables, he can do that because he has billions in his war chest. The purse of this race has nothing to do with Stronach helping or not helping fifty stables.

    • Tom Davis

      This is not a laughing stock. Quality horses will be running: Collected, Gunnevera, War Story, Gun Runner, West Coast, Stellar Wind, Sharp Azteca. Who cares how they got there or that groups are “playing let’s make a deal”. That’s their business, it’s none of your business.

      • longshot

        Can’t agree more Tom. I love big races. Can’t understand so much negativity. I don’t even think any of the money comes out of the horsemens purse account

  • Neigh Sayer

    Very interesting that the purse distribution will not be known until after the horses cross the finish line as much will depend on if those three Stronach Group horses finish in the first three positions.

  • McGov

    Well….I appreciate the explanation ? A++
    As for the race itself….
    Guess money can’t buy everything. Must be fun to try though lol.

  • Richard C

    The PWG press releases seem to skip ticket sales.

  • Joseph

    Joke. When will the clowns start working the crowd. Last year for this fiasco

  • Tom Davis

    Why should we care how much someone paid to get their horse into the race or how they got there, buying a spot from the original investor, making a deal here and there etc etc. We should look at the Pegasus as 12 top notch horses racing. We are fans. If Frank Stronach wants to spend his money, so be it.

    • Tinky

      Say what?! 12 “top-notch” horses? They’ll have to run the race for about 8-10 years to arrive at that number cumulatively.

      • Tom Davis

        Relatively speaking.

      • Kevin Callinan

        you’ve become a bit of a troll

        • Tinky

          Ah, so taking language seriously is now considered ‘trolling’?

          Good to know.

      • Michael Castellano

        Most folks here never saw the greats of the past, and are not familiar with their accomplishments or how many more horses there were that deserved the adjective, or what made people call them great. If they were around for those days they would see the decline in the breed’s durability and consistency, and also note the declining average times in the top races at the classic distances of 1 1/4.

        • Tinky

          True, but it’s the degradation of language that I find even more worrying. I mean, should it be necessary to have seen Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Spectacular Bid to understand that horses that have never even won a single Grade I race are not remotely “top-notch”?

          • Michael Castellano

            I think fans cling to the belief that the horses of today are at least the equal of those of the past. It’s not evidence based. We now live in a country were true facts are meaningless to many folks.

          • Kevin Callinan

            This has become the ‘get off my lawn’ club; enjoy the race for what it is.

        • Betty Earl

          Agree with you they were not around, but they could pick up a American Racing Manual and read some other books and study some history.

          • Michael Castellano

            Unfortunately, many don’t read.

      • Betty Earl

        Ditto again, some of these horses entered don’t even qualify as a good horse. Now I will take some of the heat away from you.

  • CEOmike

    I don’t know why so many are down on this race, it is like every other race, a favorite with some horses that could surprise and a lot of hopefuls. In this case the favorite is horse of the year, Gun Runner. The horses that could surprise are Sharp Azteca (a late developer that appears on the rise,) Toast of New York (a horse as good as GR but making a comeback after failure at stud,) and Stellar Wind (one of the best from a good year of fillies) The hopefuls include Collected who has given the favorite a run, but might gain some advantage in a shorter distance and track layout.

    Except these are all great horses who would all be odds on favorites if they were not racing each other.

    • longshot

      I agree with you Mike. I think it will be a great race. A nice race for Exacta and tri betters . Can’t wait . As for everybody who is down on the race all I can say is don’t watch it.

    • Mr. Moo

      I agree
      And unlike the rest of the industry looks like they have some “adaptibility”

    • Tinky

      Except these are all great horses who would all be odds on favorites if they were not racing each other.

      Sad to see that the word “great”, like “awesome”, has lost virtually all of its original impact, thanks to abuses such as this.

      • Billy Johnston

        Tinky – the Pegasus is stinky (just had to say that)
        Your right, the over use of superlatives is out of control. A discernable person can differentiate – very good from GREAT (non in the Pegasus)!

        • Lmaris

          There are a couple very good horses entered. Some who were very good but haven’t been in months if not years, and some who never will be.

      • CEOmike

        Sorry I didn’t know the language police were also race fans.

        • Tinky

          Yeah, right, good, great, mediocre – what difference does it make?

          • Lmaris

            CEOmike apparently is a stable genius.

      • Betty Earl

        Ditto! most who use “great” on these blogs have no idea what a great horse is or was.

    • Tom Davis

      I agree. Why are there so many negative comments. We are going to see a horse race with good horses. Who cares how they got there or even if Frank Stronach wants to make the purse $30 million–so what. If it was changed to The $750,000 Pegasus with the usual entry procedures, we would see most of these same horses. We will be watching, and if you choose to bet on, a much anticipated horse race. It’s not something that’s doomed–check the money handle on the race.

      • Sk8erboy301


      • Sk8erboy301

        Because Paulick Report is the king of negative comments, if this game is so bad avoid it. I don’t like college basketball so I don’t watch it, What I don’t do is constantly complain about it on college bball websites.

    • Betty Earl

      “Sharp Azteca is a late developer” Huh?

  • Rachel

    If I paid a million bucks to enter, I sure am hoping a free horse draws the 12 slot.

    • Betty Earl

      You mean the kiss of death 12 post like Chrome did last year. Probably Dr. Fager or Bid would have overcome that 12 hole, but they don’t make them anymore.

  • wolfstraum

    so this is not a real race IMO….it is a bunch of people with alot of money gambling on a big payout using horses instead of dice….no integrity in pride of ownership….just looking around and leasing a pair of dice (horse) to fill a slot… rock star standouts that make it a RACE…..Gun Runner matured and stayed in training while all the rock stars of his generation retired….probably now the best of the bunch, but really??? no contemporary horses of his crop – some nice racehorses…..Stellar Wind is probably the class of the race…..but to view this as a superstar race – no way….just a high stakes game for the richer owners

  • Kay

    I’m in two minds about this race….

    1) It’s certainly going to be interesting to see all these high caliber horses run against each other, and I’m looking forward to it.

    2) I think the purse is a little ridiculous… It completely warps the ‘highest money earned’ racehorse rankings. In one fell swoop, horses add $7 million to their money earned. Think about it: if Arrogate hadn’t won the Pegasus last year, where would he stand in that ranking? He also had a less-than-stellar year after the Pegasus and the Dubai World Cup, and yet he was at the top of the leading money earners for the year, and one of the top of all time to this point with only four wins in stakes company, compared to a horse like Gun Runner who was extremely consistent throughout the season, or of course California Chrome. For this reason alone I dislike the race overall.

    • Virginia Lawler

      Especially agree with you re #2 and noting Arrogate with only the 4 wins in stakes company, plus then he then just seemed to lose interest. Seems most breeders might well prefer the consistency of Gun Runner, and especially California Chrome–who seems to have continuing enthusiasm re just about everything.

    • Kimberly Kelley

      It means that going forward highest earnings will not perhaps have the same impact when evaluating a horse. In all honesty it has always been like that on some level…1 or two big stakes then nothing. Just now the money is bigger. Not saying good or bad. Just saying.

    • Lmaris

      California Chrome consistent? He won exactly one race in 18 months between Mid-May as 3yo & beginning of his 5yo year. Arrogate was more so during his 3 & 4 yo years. Many don’t come back from Dubai well, and he never had the full let-down Chrome needed to let his betters retire and come back as fully mature.

  • Billy Johnston

    “Alternative Structure” – “DEAL”
    PEGASUS is dropping another Frank ‘struflex’ Stronach “bomb” (Sunshine Millions / MEC / Gulfstream Park Plant).
    25% slashed off the original cost of fan seating after only 1 year!
    Little Timmie Ritvo as his COO is coou~coouuu. Hope Santa Anita Park doesn’t fall to the same fate as the once grand major league Thoroughbred Racing facility ~~~~~~ >
    GULFSTREAM PARK (under DONN family)

  • gammyp6

    A terrific group of horses….enough with the naysayers…

  • SteveD

    The purses of this race should not count toward the horses’ earnings.
    We need a little asterisk or something to note PWC participants and account for the money they actually took home, as a side note ;)

  • Rocky Schiffner

    If I were an owner of the original 9 spots I would be pissed to now have to give the free bees a shot a the good post positions. Let them vie for 10,11, and 12 posts only. Seems fair .

  • Lmaris

    How prestigious is an event if one has to give away entry. Now that the owners who bought stalls get bonus kickbacks if freeby owners’ horses win, they have incentive to block other paid runners if their horse isn’t up to snuff.

    Sorry, but the bloom is long off this rose.

  • kuzdal

    In response to those who view this edition of the Pegasus as anything “special”, I’d offer this list:

    Gun Runner
    Seattle Slew
    Mr. Prospector
    American Pharoah
    Sunday Silence
    Spectacular Bid

    These aren’t the best to race, just those that came to mind. I would travel to see them race. Too bad it can’t happen. The Pegasus, with the wheeling and dealing, is simply too contrived for my taste. Then again, at my advanced age, you can discount my opinion.

    Only the folks who take my bets – and cash my winners – know me. And that’s good enough, ya know?

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