07/22/2016 12:11PM

Pegasus World Cup granted Grade 1 status

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The Pegasus World Cup, the planned $12 million race announced this year by The Stronach Group, has been assigned a Grade 1 rating for 2017 by the committee that assigns grades to U.S. stakes races, the committee announced on Friday.

The American Graded Stakes Committee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association voted to assign the highest rating in the U.S. to the race after noting that the Pegasus is expected to replace the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla., on the U.S. racing calendar.

While the decision by the committee was not unexpected, the assignment of a Grade 1 rating lends cachet to a race that is being run under highly unusual conditions. For the race, The Stronach Group, the owner of Gulfstream Park and a handful of other tracks, has said it has sold 12 berths in the race to individuals and partnerships for $1 million each. The berths guarantee the holders a spot in the starting gate and a cut of the net revenue from handle and sponsorships connected to the race.

With a purse of $12 million, the Pegasus will be the richest race held in the world, provided the race goes off as planned. Scheduled for Jan. 28, the race is for horses ages 4 and up and will be run at 1 1/8 miles. The Donn Handicap, which last year had a $500,000 purse, was also run at 1 1/8 miles.

If the owners of the berths do not own horses who fit the conditions or level of competition, they are expected to cut deals with other owners to sell the berths outright or lease horses for the purposes of the race. No other race in the U.S. has ever been run under such conditions.