01/26/2017 12:40PM

Pegasus World Cup: The art of the deal

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Before there were 12 horses ready to run in the Pegasus World Cup, there were 12 starting slots to fill. Here is how each horse and slot-holder came to get their shot at the $12 million purse.

Coolmore (Susan Magnier, Derrick Smith, Michael Tabor) Arrogate

 

Coolmore won the sweepstakes among Pegasus slot owners who were desperately seeking the 3-year-old male champion Arrogate by securing a deal for the horse with owner Juddmonte Farms six weeks after the colt’s victory over California Chrome in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic last year.

 

California Chrome LLC (Perry Martin and Taylor Made Farm) California Chrome

 

California Chrome is one of only two starters in the Pegasus who had been targeting the race at the time when the slot was purchased by his owners. The decision looks good now. The plan is to retire California Chrome after the race.

 

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Jerry and Ronald Frankel Keen Ice

 

The Frankel brothers reached a deal with the colt’s owner, Donegal Racing, in late December to secure Keen Ice – the only horse to beat American Pharoah in his 2015 Horse of the Year campaign.

 

Earle Mack, Moustapha Fostock, and Chester Broman Sr. Noble Bird

 

Purchased a slot in the Pegasus from the original owners, Sol Kumin and James Covello, in September, then reached a deal in January to start John Oxley’s Noble Bird in the slot. Kumin and Covello were the only original owners to sell the slot outright.

 

James McIngvale Eragon

 

Purchased a slot with the intention of running 2015 champion sprinter Runhappy, but Runhappy had a disappointing 2016 campaign. McIngvale then privately purchased a South American stakes winner, Eragon, for the slot. Eragon is the only horse in the Pegasus claiming a five-pound allowance for racing Lasix-free.

 

Paul Reddam Semper Fortis

 

Reddam was hoping his 2015 2-year-old male champion and 2016 Kentucky Derby winner, Nyquist, would make the race, but the colt’s performances in the latter half of 2016 didn’t inspire, and he was retired. Reddam eventually tabbed a colt he owns, Semper Fortis, for the slot.

 

Dean Reeves Breaking Lucky

 

Reeves was involved in multiple unsuccessful negotiations to land a starter throughout 2016 and early 2017 and eventually reached a deal in January with Gunpowder Farms to start Breaking Lucky. Reeves and West Point Thoroughbreds also bought into the ownership of the colt after the deal was reached to secure the Pegasus start.

 

Mick Ruis Sr. War Envoy

 

California-based former trainer initially tabbed War Envoy, a longshot he owns, as his Pegasus starter. He then reached a deal late in the game to start Grade 1 winner Gun Runner, but the deal unraveled due to concerns over Gun Runner’s exposure to the equine herpesvirus at Fair Grounds while the track was quarantined in January. That put War Envoy back in the gate.

 

Dan Schafer War Story

 

Schafer, a pizza-franchise owner, said the purchase of the $1 million slot was his first investment in racing. He reached a deal in late December with Ron Paolucci of Loooch Racing Stables to start War Story in the race. War Story finished 25 lengths behind Arrogate and California Chrome in the BC Classic.

 

Starlight Pegasus Neolithic

 

Starlight Pegasus is a partnership headed by Jack Wolf, who runs the Starlight Racing partnership. The group was seeking a starter for most of last year while having a fallback in its own Neolithic, who won an allowance race impressively Dec. 14 at Gulfstream. The group didn’t land anyone better, and Neolithic got the nod.

 

Frank Stronach Shaman Ghost

Stronach, who owns Gulfstream and conceived the race, had a number of candidates for the race when he purchased his own slot, but the No. 1 option was always his homebred Shaman Ghost, who won the Woodward Stakes in September. That victory solidified the choice.

 

Jeffrey Weiss Prayer for Relief

Weiss, a Florida real estate developer and horse owner, said he bought into the Pegasus to get in on the ground floor and for a chance to wheel and deal. He was the last Pegasus slot owner to make a deal for a horse, securing Zayat Stables’ longshot Prayer for Relief in mid-January.