Will they have to rename the Pegasus World Cup after another mythical figure — Icarus, the hubris-fueled adventurer who flew too close to the sun with disastrous results?
That possibility sprung to mind this week when The Stronach Group, owner of Gulfstream Park, announced it was slashing the purse for the race from $9 million to $3 million. It also said it is cutting the purse of the World Cup Turf, run for the first time this year, from $7 million to $1 million.
TSG, which also owns beleaguered Santa Anita Park and a handful of other U.S. racetracks, announced some other steps to keep the marquee 1⅛th-mile race competitive amid increasing global competition: Entry fees for the two races, which ranged as high as $1 million in the first two years, have been waived. Entries for both races will now be by invitation only.
It also said it would ban any race day medication, meaning Lasix, and donate 2 percent of the purse winnings to thoroughbred aftercare organizations.
It remains to see how these changes will impact what just a few years ago was world’s richest horse race when it is run on Jan. 25. But with the newly created $20 million Saudi Cup on Feb. 29, which will assume the “world’s richest” title, and the $12 million Dubai World Cup on March 28 waiting in the wings, it may be that some owners will opt to keep their horses in the barn to await the really big money.
May I borrow your crop?
A strange case involving a midrace exchange of a riding crop by two jockeys at Golden Gate Fields has prompted Northern California stewards to hand out 30-day suspensions to the riders involved.
The suspensions arose from the sixth race on Dec. 12, when Julien Couton, riding Olive You More, dropped his whip on the second turn of the mile maiden race. He continued riding the filly, who appeared destined for a midpack finish until they pulled alongside a tiring Belle Magic. Apparently at Couton’s request, jockey Silvio Amador gallantly handed his crop to Couton, who went to the stick and rallied Olive You More to a third-place finish.
No review was announced by stewards at the time, according to the Bloodhorse, which first reported the incident and posted a video of the race, which is strange since the incident is noted in the chart.
In any case, it appears it was a case of ill-considered sportsmanship, rather than some blatant betting coup.
Farewell thee well, Ed Burgart
Ed Burgart, 67, a fixture as the race-caller at Los Alamitos Race Course in Southern California with nearly four decades behind the mic, hung up his binoculars after calling the Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity on Sunday.
If you ever caught a quarter horse race from the Orange County oval I’m sure you’d recognize Burgart’s unique rapid-fire stentorian delivery.
Burgart will continue to work part time at the track, setting the program odds, as Michael Wrona takes over the race calling for the track’s quarter horse and thoroughbred meets.
#RJhorseracing featured races
This weekend is about as slow as it gets on the unceasing racing calendar, but that doesn’t mean the #RJhorseracing handicappers can’t find something to sink their teeth into.
This week’s quarry: Saturday’s 7th race at Aqueduct, a 6-furlong allowance race for New York bred 3-year-olds and up, and the 8th at Hawthorne, a 6-furlong $20,000 optional claimer for fillies and mares.
In the former, the crew is sold on 3-1 morning line favorite Big Engine, who is sharp but tackling tougher here. They like Wushu Warrior (7-2) and Bustin Shout (6-1) for the minor placings.
I’ll admit I’m confused by this race, as the aforementioned all are Finger Lakes shippers and the competition there is generally a notch or two lower than at Aqueduct. Also, most of the field likes to race on or near the front end.
With that in mind, I’ll go with the two proven off-the-pace runners, Mystical Song (10-1) to win and True Gold (8-1) to place. I’ll use Red Zinger (6-1) to show.
At Hawthorne, the crowd ‘cappers are again treating this like a crime scene and sticking to the chalk: 3-1 morning line favorite Scarlet Position. They see Cowgirl Callie (6-1) and Valiant Lady (7-2) for the place and show.
Those horses look tough, but I’ll try Trophy Bridle (9-2), who is facing tougher but is undefeated in two starts at Hawthorne since switching from turf to dirt. I’ll use Scarlet Position to place and Indibow (12-1), a lightly raced 4-year-old who hopped at the break in her last and seems capable of better, to show.