The $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) will be inaugurated Saturday at Gulfstream Park with the distinction of providing a stage for the most highly anticipated high-stakes showdown in Thoroughbred racing history.
The world’s richest horse race, for which 12 stakeholders each put up $1 million to participate, will provide two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome the opportunity to go out a winner while avenging the most resounding loss of an enduring career that is scheduled to come to a close Saturday.
At Monday’s post position draw at Frankey’s Sports Bar in the Village at Gulfstream Park, California Chrome LLC’s California Chrome was installed as the 6-5 favorite in the morning line after being assigned Post 12.
“We can’t make any excuses. The only good thing I thought about this is that he doesn’t have to be in the starting gate long,” Sherman said of the No. 12 post.” Chrome is Chrome. He’s got tactical speed. I was hoping that we would get closer inside. He will overcome all this, believe me.
Juddmonte Farm’s Arrogate was rated second at 7-5 after drawing Post 1 for the 1 1/8-mile spectacular that may be more accurately billed as a rubber match than a rematch.
“It will be emotional. I’d love to see him go out a winner,” California Chrome’s trainer Art Sherman said. “I know it’s going to be a tough race, but I’ll tell you I’ve never seen a horse train like him in a long time. It seems like each time I work him he gets a little bit stronger. I would have loved to have one more year with him. This year would have been a fabulous year for this horse. He amazes me on the way he’s just getting better. At 6 years old, you look at him and you say, ‘Wow, he hasn’t reached his peak yet.’”
The Pegasus World Cup, which is carded as the last of 12 races on Saturday’s program (First Post: 11:30 a.m.) and will be broadcast by NBC (4:30-6 p.m.).
California Chrome will attempt to become the world’s richest horse by adding Saturday’s record $7 million first prize to his long list of accomplishments that includes victories in the 2014 Kentucky Derby (G1), the 2014 Preakness Stakes (G1) and the 2016 Dubai World Cup (G1). The California-bred veteran, who is already the top earner outside Japan with more than $14.5 million in purses, will be ridden by Victor Espinoza.
“It’s hard to give Victor any instructions. He has ridden the horse so many times, so many graded races,” said Sherman, whose star tuned up for the Pegasus World Cup with a 12-length romp in the Winter Challenge at Los Alamitos Dec. 17. “I don’t think he will be looking around as much as he did in the Breeders’ Cup. I told him, ‘This is The Last of the Mohicans.’”
Although California Chrome and Arrogate are being geared up for another head-to-head clash in the Pegasus, thoroughbred racing’s brightest stars will be joined in the starting gate by a field of 10 rivals on an upset quest.
Here are the official post positions:
1. Arrogate (Mike Smith) 7-5
2. Prayer for Relief (Florent Geroux) 50-1
3. Neolithic (John Velazquez) 30-1
4. Noble Bird (Julien Leparoux) 25-1
5. War Story (Antonio Gallardo) 50-1
6. War Envoy (Luis Saez) 50-1
7. Shaman Ghost (Jose Oritz) 20-1
8. Semper Fortis (Tyler Gaffalione) 50-1
9. Keen Ice (Javier Castellano) 12-1
10. Breaking Lucky (Luis Contreras) 25-1
11. Eragon (Edgar Prado) 50-1
12. California Chrome (Victor Espinoza) 6-5
Alternates for the race can only take the place of the ownership group for whom they are running.
13. Stanford (for Arrogate)
14. Sea Rave (for Breaking Lucky)
15. Madefromlucky (for California Chrome)
Edited Press release