TRC’s weekly industry digest - a round-up of international racing news from the past week.
$7m turf invitational part of new-look Pegasus day
North America: A new $7 million turf race will be part of a revamped Pegasus World Cup card at Gulfstream Park in Miami on January 26 next year. The $16 million prize fund for the 2018 Pegasus World Cup Invitational, run on dirt and won by Gun Runner last January, is now being split between the two races, with a $9 million purse on offer in the dirt race.
The G1 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational, which will be run at 9½ furlongs, will be the world’s second most valuable turf race behind only The Everest (A$10m) at Randwick in October.
The winner’s share of the purse will be $3 million. Winner of the dirt race, over 8½ furlongs, will get $4 million.
“The appetite for a turf race is strong and the decision to include a premier turf race is part of the ongoing evolution of the Pegasus World Cup,” said Belinda Stronach, president of the Stronach Group. “We are excited to expand this event for both horse owners and fans, adding to what is already an incredible day of entertainment and world-class racing at Gulfstream Park.”
The inclusion of the turf race was greeted positively by Coolmore founder John Magnier, who was “thrilled” at the news. The Stronach Group will offer a $1 million bonus for any owner who can win both the Pegasus World Cup Invitational and the new turf invitational, an initiative that Magnier thinks will help in “growing our sport” to “showcase the world’s best Thoroughbreds”.
Any owner who purchases a spot in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational will be given preference to purchase a spot in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational. The cost to secure an entry spot and enter a horse is $500,000 per race.
Top breeders expected to support Justify at Ashford
North America: Coolmore America has confirmed that Triple Crown winner Justify will stand at its Ashford Stud Farm in Lexington.
The undefeated son of Scat Daddy, who also stood at Ashford until his untimely death in 2015, won all six of his career starts, accruing $3,798,000 in prize money. Coolmore also stands American Pharoah and an “excited” M.V. Magnier was “in no doubt that Justify will prove equally successful” as the 2015 Triple Crown winner, who has enjoyed a rich start to his second career.
Coolmore becomes the fourth farm to stand two Triple Crown winners - Claiborne, Calumet and Spendthrift are the others – and Ashford’s Adrian Wallace expects “some of the best international breeders” to supply mares in a book that could exceed 200.
Elliott Walden, president of WinStar Farm, who campaigned the brilliant colt with China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners and Starlight Racing, admitted that the long anticipated deal for Justify was a “bittersweet moment” for connections. However, the ownership group has retained breeding rights and Walden is “look[ing] forward to supporting him at Ashford Stud”.
A stud fee for Justify has yet to be announced.
A toast to the Triple Crown hero ...
North America: Kentucky whisky brand Maker’s Mark is releasing a commemorative bottle to celebrate the racing career of Justify, having previously honoured 2015 and 1973 Triple Crown champions American Pharoah and Secretariat in the same way.
The Maker’s Mark Justify bottle is black with green wax and a ribbon with the stars of WinStar farm, reflecting the silks that jockey Mike Smith wore in the Kentucky Derby.
The limited edition one-litre bottle will be available for a retail price of $59.99 and will raise money for charitable partners, including the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville and the Ann Hanley Parkinson’s Research Fund.
… and to Winx too
Oceania: Australian beer Carlton Draught will honour Winx with a limited edition can ahead of her bid for an historic fourth Cox Plate next month.
The 30,000 cans will carry the royal blue of owners Magic Bloodstock with the name of world’s highest-rated racehorse emblazoned on the front. They will be available at Moonee Valley on Moir Stakes night and from Victorian bottle shops by mid-October.
The announcement comes on the back of Winx’s record-breaking 27th consecutive win and 20th G1 victory at Randwick on Saturday. The great mare is a red-hot favourite for this year’s renewal of the Cox Plate on October 27.
Onwards and upwards for Galileo
Europe: Galileo has matched his sire Sadler's Wells’ mark of 73 worldwide G1 winners.
The historic mark was realised when Aidan O’Brien’s Flag Of Honour won the Comer Group International Irish St Leger at the Curragh on Sunday. The Britain and Ireland champion sire is expected by many to pass his illustrious father and then move past Danehill’s record of 84 winners.
The Coolmore colossus is currently ranked second in the TRC Global Sires’ Rankings. He was deposed by Dubawi three weeks ago after nearly 18 months in the top spot. His representatives have amassed more than £70 million in prize money.
An Epsom Derby winner himself, Galileo has produced some of the finest horses of the past decade, including Derby winners New Approach and Australia, as well as Frankel, Nathaniel, Ulysses, Minding and Soldier Of Fortune.
Lion roars to the top
Europe: John Gosden’s star 3-year old Roaring Lion has jumped to the top of the Cartier Horse of the Year standings after his victory in the Irish Champion Stakes last weekend.
Before his win in the Leopardstown G1, the son of Kitten’s Joy was third in the classifications. Roaring Lion has now amassed 174 points this year - he leads nearest rival and previous number one Alpha Centauri by 14.
Alpha Centauri had been the standout performer of the European flat season in 2018, winning four G1s - Irish 1,000 Guineas, Coronation Stakes, Falmouth and Prix Jacques le Marois – but following a chip in her right front fetlock when finishing second to Laurens in the G1 Matron Stakes the filly was retired with immediate effect.
The 28th Cartier Racing Awards will be presented at a ceremony at the Dorchester Hotel, London on November 13.
Major agent role for George Baker
Europe: Following the retirement of agent Michael Haggas, former classic-winning jockey George Baker will book rides for Godolphin pair William Buick and James Doyle, #6 and #13 in the TRC Global Jockeys’ Rankings.
2018 Derby-winning jockey Buick credited Haggas as being a “key part” of his successful career. While Doyle was “sad” that Haggas has decided to take a backseat, he “respected” the decision and “wished him all the best” for the future.
That said, the duo were excited to be working with Baker, who Doyle described as a “very likeable fella who’s very level-headed and respected in the industry”. Baker – who said that he felt “feel very honoured to have been asked” – will work with alongside Haggas in October to “see how he does things” before taking over at the end of the season.
Baker, who won the 2016 St Leger on Harbour Law, was forced to retire last year after suffering serious head injuries following a serious fall at St Moritz’s White Turf meeting, when racing on the snow-covered lake. He suffered bleeding on the brain and spent an extended period in a trauma unit, having to learn to walk again.