Opinion: Pegasus World Cup Is An American Racing Success Story — For Some

(Photo Courtesy of Pegasus World Cup)

Rob Murphy, Breeding Analyst

Beating the Odds…

We would all like to “beat the odds” – whether it is a simple bet at the track, getting a free ticket winner from your local lottery, or a little leaguer making it all the way to the major leagues.

I have always kept to the expression, “You would rather be lucky than good.” Success normally takes most of the elements – perseverance, luck, being in the right place at the right time, elbow grease, etc.

But the Pegasus World Cup? The world’s richest race? Now, a total purse of $16 million? The brainchild of one Frank Stronach? To be successful?

It has beaten the odds.

Just consider:

We all know it takes a lot to get twelve runners in a dirt race going a route of ground these days.   This year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic drew eleven runners, whose connections had to put up $75,000 to pre- enter, and $75,000 to enter.

By all means that was a full field, especially with two solid favorites in Arrogate and Gun Runner. With the $150,000 in pure entry costs, there were four of the eleven that would earn a positive pay day for their owners in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

That means that 36% of the field would “beat the odds” and make some money on November 4th.

The inaugural running of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes in 2017, on the other hand,  took hundreds of days of planning, thousands of phone calls, and $12,000,000 in entry fees.

Twelve owners were willing to put up $1,000,000 each for the chance of winning the biggest purse in American racing.

Twelve owners knowing only two places paid enough in purse earnings to get their entry fees returned.

Twelve owners knowing the winner’s net purse earnings gave them a $5.60-1 return on their money.

Twelve owners that had horses whose odds were 16-1 or higher! They were all trying to “beat the odds.”

Did I mention that the first two finishers from the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic, Arrogate and California Chrome, were scheduled to run? The odds board would indicate that the $5.60-1 wager the owners were willing to put up, was awfully short for all but two of those connections.

Yet, they did it.

In the end, Arrogate rewarded his pari-mutuel backers along with his owner’s wager. Frank Stronach’s Shaman Ghost ran a good race to run second, and “get his money back.”

The others were negative for their entry fee/purse wager. The bonus to this race was that the original twelve post position holders were to share in the handle from the day. Dan Liebman’s article highlights the numbers posted.

After seeing all that went into the inaugural running of the Pegasus, I thought that “beating the odds” meant seeing the 2nd running of the Pegasus. It is certainly good for racing to see this second running approaching in a few weeks.

(Gun Runner)

Gun Runner’s connections are surely happy about it. Everybody else, except Lane’s End Farm — who stands the stallion Candy Ride, the sire of this year’s Champion, Gun Runner — wishes this year’s Breeders’ Cup Champ would have gone to Three Chimneys for stud duty already.

But here we are. Once again, it appears there are willing bettors; anxious investors; and gambling owners. All of whom are ready to take a shot at the purse — which is now $16 million. And, as they say, the show must go on. In this case, the race will go on.

That’s where “the being lucky” part comes in.  It will take some incredible luck, in all probability, to beat the grand Gun Runner. But, sometimes, as they say, it truly is better to be lucky than good.

A year ago, the hard working people at Taylor Made Farm had to like the additional $7,000,000 in purse earnings for Arroagte, who ran away with the first Pegasus World Cup.

After all, that made the late Unbridled’s Song — a Taylor Made Stallion — the leading sire all year long.

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds
  • Rob Murphy

    Rob Murphy

    A horse racing and thoroughbred enthusiast, Murphy has devised his own method for handicapping and breeding. Murphy's company, M375 Thoroughbreds, Inc., has bred, raised and raced successful horses such as Platinum Tiara, Swing and Miss, Diamond Studs, Strike Three and Golden Spikes. Murphy is a former Major League Baseball player. ...

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