Updated January 16th 2017
We are now less than two weeks away from the inaugural Pegasus World Cup Invitational–now the richest horse race in the world with a $12 Million Dollar purse. Below are the expected entries followed by other possible entries based upon chatter I have heard within the sport. Connect’s owner Paul Pompa Jr said recently that Connect would not be pointed for the Pegasus World Cup. The Chad Brown-trained colt will be pointed towards the 2017 Met Mile at Belmont Park in June to start his 4 year-0ld campaign.
2017 Pegasus World Cup Expected Entries
1) California Chrome – He will win the 2016 Horse of the Year Eclipse award to go along with his 2014 Horse of Year honors. I like his chances in a rematch with Arrogate if he draws an inside post position. His win in the 2016 Winter Challenge was against a weak field, but you can’t ignore the fact that he still set a track record. Chrome was ready to rumble no matter who showed up. I think he will fare better against Arrogate at 9 furlongs than he did at 10 furlongs.
Career: 26 Starts 16-4-1-1 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 7
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 5 Starts 3-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Lucky Pulpit
Trainer: Art Sherman
Jockey: Victor Espinosa
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:47.52 – 2014 Santa Anita Handicap
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 119 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 119 – 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic
2) Arrogate – Arrogate is ranked #1 in the world in the most recent Longines World’s Best Racehorse rankings. He will carry the torch for the older horse division in 2017 when California Chrome is retired. The sport is in good hands. It appears that he may potentially get a tuneup at Santa Anita Park before the Pegasus World Cup as he is rumored to be entered in San Pasqual Stakes on January 1st.
Career: 6 Starts 5-0-1-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 0 Starts 0-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Unbridled’s Song
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Jockey: Mike Smith
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:47.44* (estimated from 2016 Travers Stakes)
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 122 – 2016 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 122 –2016 Travers Stakes
3) Keen Ice – After a significant layoff and with just one prep race, Keen Ice finished a very surprising 3rd in the 2016 Breeders Cup Classic. In his most recent start, he finished 2nd behind Stanford in the Harlan’s Holiday Stakes. He is still a quality horse. He finished 4th in last year’s Breeders Cup Classic. He is the only living horse to have beaten a Triple Crown Champion when he shocked a nation by beating American Pharoah in last year’s Travers Stakes (shown below).
Career: 19 Starts 2-2-5-4 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 5 Starts 0-1-1-2
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>3rd–>2nd
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.31 (calculated) – 2015 Haskell Invitational
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 106 –2015 Travers Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 –2015 Travers Stakes
4) Shaman Ghost – Owned by Stonach Stables, it has been a foregone conclusion that Shaman Ghost would be an entry in Pegasus World Cup which was created by Frank Stonach. However, this has yet to be confirmed. The 2016 Woodward Stakes winner finished a disappointing 3rd in the 2016 Clark Handicap. I am not sure he was 100% having been scratched from the Breeders’ Cup Classic due to spiking a fever. I expect him to develop further under the training of Jimmy Jerkens and be a major stakes winner in 2017 as a 5 year-old.
Career: 12 Starts 6-1-1-1 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 2 Starts 1-0-0-0
Last 3 starts: 5th–>1st–>3rd
Trainer: Jimmy Jerkens
Jockey: Jose Ortiz Jr.
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:48.92 – 2016 Woodward Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 106 – 2016 Woodward Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2016 Woodward Stakes
5) Noble Bird – Noble Bird has been hit-or-miss this year. He has nice wins in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special (110 Beyer Speed Figure) and the Grade 2 Hagyard Fayette Stakes (106 Beyer Speed Figure). His time of 1:47.75 in the Hagyard Fayette Stakes set a new track record at Keeneland for 9 furlongs. But he hasn’t fared well in Grade 1 events this year: 6th in the Met Mile, 5th in the Whitney Handicap and 7th in the Clark Handicap.
Career: 20 Starts 7-4-0-1 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 7 Starts 3-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>7th
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Julien Leparoux
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:47.75 – 2016 Hagyard Fayette Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 110 – 2016 Pimlico Special
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 110 – 2016 Pimlico Special
6) Neolithic – Another Todd Pletcher-trainee. He finished 2nd in the 2016 Discovery Stakes (shown below) in mid November but won an 8 1/2 furlong allowance race on December 14th at Gulfstream Park with a nice time of 1:41.58. This was just 0.61 seconds off the track record. He received a 104 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort. His jockey in that race was Javier Castellano who will most likely be the rider for Keen Ice. So perhaps Jose Lezcano, who was his jockey in the Discovery Stakes, will pick up this ride.
Career: 7 Starts 2-3-0-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 1 Starts 0-1-0-0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Harlan’s Holiday
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.78 (calculated) – 2016 Discovery Stakes
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 104 – Gulfstream Park Allowance Race 12/14/16
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 104 – Gulfstream Park Allowance Race 12/14/16
7) War Story – The 5 year-old gelding has raced against top competition over his career with very little success. He finished 16th in the 2015 Kentucky Derby, 7th in the 2016 Pacific Classic and 8th in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic. In his last two starts, he finished 4th in the 2016 Cigar Mile and then won the 9 furlong Queens County Stakes at Aqueduct on December 17th.
Career: 17 Starts 6-4-5-0 Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: 3 Starts 0-2-0-0
Last 3 starts: 8th–>4th–>1st
Sire: Northern Afleet
Trainer: Jorge Navarro
Jockey: Antonio Gallardo
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:51.39 (calculated) – 2015 Louisiana Derby
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: 99 – 2016 Queen County Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99 – 2016 Queen County Stakes
8) Eragon – The Argentinian horse was purchased by James McIngvale who had originally purchased a spot in the Pegasus World Cup for Runhappy. Runhappy was retired after the Breeders’ Cup so McIngvale went to South America to find a horse to fill his spot. The recently turned 6 year-old has won three Grade 1 races in South America. He has raced on turf and dirt and appears to be a better Miler. Now the question is, who will be his jockey? Gary Stevens would have been a great fit here but he is recovering from hip surgery.
Career: 20 Starts 10 wins, 3 Grade 1 wins in South America
Career in 1 1/8th Mile Races: N/A
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd–>1st
Trainer: Laura Wohlers
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: N/A
Best Beyer Speed Figure in 2016: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: N/A
Other Expected Entries: Breaking Lucky, Prayer For Relief, Ralis and War Envoy
On the docket…
What was the most exciting horse race in 2016? There were many great ones but in my next blog, I will unveil my vote for most exciting race in 2016 with corresponding unpublished photos and video that I captured of this race. Plus I’ll give my picks for the Eclipse Award winners.