08/09/2016 9:05AM

New stakes on Pegasus World Cup card gives stakeholders options


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Gulfstream Park in Florida will hold a $400,000 race on Jan. 28 on the undercard of the $12 million Pegasus World Cup and allow stakeholders to pre-enter two horses in the Pegasus, officials of The Stronach Group, which owns Gulfstream, said on Monday night. One horse would be allowed to run in the Pegasus and the other in the secondary stakes, the Poseidon Stakes.

The Poseidon Stakes will be run with identical conditions to the Pegasus, at 1 1/8 miles on the dirt for horses 4 years old and up, according to Mike Rogers, an executive with The Stronach Group who is spearheading the planning for the Pegasus and its undercard. The field will be restricted to the horses that stakeholders have entered but are not running in the Pegasus.

The Stronach Group, which is owned by a family trust controlled by the billionaire racing titan Frank Stronach, has sold 12 berths in the Pegasus to individuals or partnerships who have committed to pay $1 million each for a slot in the starting gate and a share of the revenue from the race. That money is being used to fund the entire purse, which will be the largest in the world. The stakeholders will be allowed to sell their slots or strike other deals to secure a horse for the race. (For more details on the Pegasus Stakes, click here.)

Under new rules for the race hashed out with the stakeholders during a meeting on Monday in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., each stakeholder will be allowed to enter an “A” horse and a “B” horse in the Pegasus when entries are taken on the Monday prior to the Pegasus, Rogers said. In the event of a scratch of the “A” horse, the “B” horse can be entered in the Pegasus. If the “A” horse stays in the Pegasus, the “B” horse will be allowed to run in the Poseidon, Rogers said, provided the stakeholders pay a $20,000 entry fee.

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While The Stronach Group was able to sell all 12 spots in the race relatively quickly after announcing plans for the race in mid-May, many of the details about the running of the race, including scratch rules, had not yet been set. The meeting Monday was called to discuss unresolved details with the stakeholders, Rogers said.

Under the rules communicated Monday, any stakeholder whose horse is scratched on race day from the Pegasus “for a certified veterinary reason” will be eligible to receive the last-place portion of the race’s purse and still share in the net revenue from the race, Rogers said. If the horse is scratched by the owner or trainer after the 8 a.m. scratch time on the Saturday of the race, then the stakeholder’s share of both purse and revenue will be forfeit, said Rogers.

“We’re looking at it this way because it’s to everyone’s benefit to have 12 horses in the race,” Rogers said. “It’s important to have all 12 horses.”

Rogers also said that the stakeholders discussed a redistribution of the purse in the race, but unlike the scratch rules, the redistribution will need to be approved by all 12 stakeholder groups because the current distribution was explicitly outlined in an agreement the stakeholders signed when they provided their initial $200,000 deposit in late May. Rogers said he intends to send a letter out this week asking the stakeholders to formally approve the redistribution.

Under the redistribution proposal, the purse for the top-three positions will remain the same at $7 million, $1.75 million, and $1 million, respectively, but a small portion of the purses for the fourth through 12th spots will be redistributed to the fourth and fifth spots. Any horse finishing out of the top three in the Pegasus had been guaranteed $250,000, but the proposal will reduce that to $200,000 for the sixth through 12th places to redistribute the additional money to the fourth and fifth positions, Rogers said.

Rogers said the intent of redistributing the portion upward is to incentivize finishing fourth or fifth because The Stronach Group wants to offer a superfecta and super high five on the race. Racing regulators generally support larger purse awards for fourth and fifth place in races with wagers tied to those positions so that riders continue to encourage their mounts to the finish line.

The meeting on Monday was led by Frank Stronach, Rogers said, while his daughter Belinda, who was recently made chairman and president of the family company, was also present. All of the stakeholders but Paul Reddam were present for the race, which is why the purse redistribution was not immediately approved, Rogers said, requiring the formal letter.

“We’re not going to make any changes that don’t get 100 percent, unanimous consent,” Rogers said.

Rogers also said that the stakeholders at the meeting asked The Stronach Group to provide them with the names of other individuals who contacted the company about securing a berth in the race, to supply the stakeholders with contacts to target if they intend to sell their berth in the Pegasus. Seven stakeholders do not own a horse that would be competitive in the race, and Stronach Group officials said recently that they had “significantly more interest” in the race than the 12 announced stakeholders.