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Post Time: The Next Big Race

Seeing that I am a CPA by day and turf writer by night, the two big questions I’ve received the most over the past month include the following:

  • What will Trump do with taxes next year?
  • When is the next big race you will be covering?

For starters, my Kreskin post isn’t until next week so you’ll have to hold your horses on the tax prediction. However, the next big race that’s coming up is in South Florida at the end of January.

Typically, the answer to the second question is the First Saturday in May and coverage from January to April on the Derby Trail, with the usual Dubai World Cup analysis in late March for the $10 million race at Meydan.

This year, however, a new race is on the calendar and the purse will trump (for now) the World Cup’s purse by $2 million.  The inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational is set for Saturday, January 28 at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla.  The brainchild of The Stronach Group, the race has slotted 12 participants all paying a $1 million entry fee for their horse to race in the 1 1/8-mile Cup.

If the promotional video below doesn't get you juiced for this race, then you better check your pulse.

The 12 stakeholders in the Pegasus will share equally in the net income from betting, media rights and sponsorships. The winner of the race will earn a world-record $7 million. The race will be televised on NBC Sports, home of the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup. The purse for the remaining 11 non-winners will be $1.75 million for second, $1 million for third place, and $250,000 for the fourth through last-place finishers.

If you decide to attend, make sure you bring your wallet. The cheapest ticket price is $100 and range upwards to $765 for this event that has been tagged an “icon in flight.” There will be six stakes races with purses greater than $100,000, including the $400,000 Poseidon Stakes.  Poseidon, was the sire of Pegasus, the white colored winged horse of Greek mythology.

With the addition of the Pegasus, there are now three races annually on the racing calendar in excess of $6 million. The aforementioned Dubai World Cup and the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, a world’s Triple Crown of sorts. Whether it will be able to sustain itself will be an interesting scenario to watch.

It is the first time this concept has been attempted and each of the 12 slots were committed to by last May.  The issue now is finding the right horse to compete for some of the 12 owners. The owners of the spots can lease, share or sell their entry, should they not have a horse currently in their barn ready to run.

The race will be California Chrome’s swan song and with a distance a furlong shorter than the classic distances of the Derby, Travers and Breeders’ Cup Classic, it could serve the son of Lucky Pulpit well.

Arrogate, last November’s Classic winner over Chrome, won't shy away from another shot at Chrome. Juddmonte Farms acquired a starting gate from Coolmore on Thursday, solidifying the big rematch between the two top horses in North America. That matchup alone makes this race all the more interesting.

With Coolmore parsing off its slot to Juddmonte, it appears Breeders' Cup Turf winner Highland Reel and Stanford, winner of last week's Harlan's Holiday will not be competing on Jan. 28.

Stronach’s own Adena Stables will enter former Queen’s Plate winner Shaman Ghost, who missed the Classic due to illness. Starlight Racing will likely enter Neolithic, a recent allowance winner at Gulfstream, trained by Todd Pletcher.

One owner has gone south of the border to find his horse. Stakeholder Jim McIngvale purchased an Argentinian horse, Eragon, who has won Group 1 races there. The unknown factor plays into the intrigue here, with South American horses being in summer form versus the North American horses coming off a long season. Even though Eragon sounds like a character straight out of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, be sure to watch replays before tossing him on Pegasus day.

Horses that certainly could be considered contenders looking for a home include Connect, Gun Runner, and Keen Ice.

The most interesting stakeholder in the race is 33-year-old Dan Schafer, who hails from Detroit and is involved in a pizza franchise. He has never owned a thoroughbred race horse and is virtually impossible to find on the internet, other than at his twitter handle (@DanSchaferPWCI) where he has been dishing out free tickets to the Cup over the past week. He has yet to announce if he has landed a horse for the race.

The race will start to take shape over the next few weeks so stay tuned for more on the world’s richest thoroughbred race.

Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.

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