Today’s $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park will be contested by four champions honored during Thursday evening’s Eclipse Awards in Gulfstream’s Sport of Kings.
Gun Runner, who has been installed as the 4-5 favorite was honored as the 2017 U.S. Horse of the Year, as well as the champion older horse. West Coast, who will be saddled by 2017 Pegasus World Cup winner Arrogate’s trainer Bob Baffert, was named champion 3-year-old colt. Jose Ortiz, who is slated to ride War Story, was honored as outstanding jockey. Chad Brown, who was honored as outstanding trainer for the second consecutive year, will saddle Stellar Wind, the 2015 Eclipse Award-winning 3-year-old filly.
Other notable facts about today's field:
- The elite 12-horse Pegasus field has amassed more than $24.8 million in purses and has accumulated 78 victories, including 61 Graded-stakes wins and 16 G1 triumphs.
- The first five finishers in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic – Gun Runner, Collected, West Coast, War Story and Gunnevera (dead-heat for fifth with Arrogate) – will be in the lne-up.
- The 12 Pegasus entrants have run at 34 racetracks in 15 stakes and two foreign countries.
- The 12 jockeys have combined to win 35,841 races and $2.023 billion in purse earnings in North America, along with 24 Triple Crown races, 92 Breeders’ Cup races and 11 Eclipse Awards, including newly crowned Jose Ortiz
- Four jockeys – Javier Castellano, Mike Smith, Gary Stevens and John Velazquez – are members of racing’s Hall of Fame. Velazquez is the all-time leader among jockeys with $378,291,092 in purse earnings. Mike Smith (2nd), Javier Castellano (5th) and Gary Stevens (9th) all rank in the top ten.
- Seven of the riders are in the top 20 in the world jockeys' rankings - Frankie Dettori (4th), Smith (5), Castellano 6), Jose Ortiz (9), Florent Geroux (13), Joe Rosario (14) and John Velazquez (19).
- Dettori, who rides Toast Of New York, was on the scoresheet aboard Sportscaster in an 8½-furlong turf race yesterday on his first day riding at Gulfstream Park since the Breeders' Cup in 1999 (when he won the Turf on Daylami). Sportscaster was the only one of his three mounts (all for trainer Dale Romans) to make the frame.
- The ten trainers have combined to win 16,790 races and $872,437,015 million in purse earnings in North America, 17 Triple Crown races, 36 Breeders’ Cup races and nine Eclipse Awards, including newly crowned Chad Brown. Baffert, who will be represented by West Coast and Collected, has 14 Breeders’ Cup wins and 12 victories in Triple Crown races, including a sweep of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes with American Pharoah in 2015.
- Trainer Steve Asmussen, who will saddle Gun Runner, has amassed 7,897 career wins, the most among active trainers and second only to the late Dale Baird’s 9,445.
- Victory today will move Gun Runner into second-place in the U.S. all-time purse earnings standings behind Arrogate, the winner of the inaugural Pegasus World Cup, who retired with $17,422,600 in the bank. A triumph in the second running of Gulfstream’s Thoroughbred spectacular will be worth a record $7 million to the winner and would push the son of Candy Ride’s career earnings to $15,988,500, ahead of California Chrome’s $14,752,650.
- Four Pegasus World Cup entrants have already competed at Gulfstream. Sharp Azteca has won three of five starts, including a victory in the 2017 G2 Gulfstream Park Handicap. Gunnevera prevailed victorious in three of seven starts, including a triumph in the 2017 G2 Fountain of Youth. Fear the Cowboy is 4-for-6, including victories in the 2017 G3 Harlan’s Holiday and G3 Skip Away. War Story, who finished fifth behind Arrogate in last year’s Pegasus World Cup before finishing off the board in the G3 Fred Hooper, is the only returning Pegasus entrant.
- Stellar Wind, champion 3-year-old filly of 2015, will become the first female to run in the Pegasus World Cup.
- Dallas Stewart, the trainer of Seeking the Soul, last saddled a horse at Gulfstream in 2010. His last winner at Gulfstream was 2006