As if the attraction of seeing the two best dirt horses in the world—arguably the two best horses in the world—currently in training wasn't enough, the first edition of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) also features depth comparable to last year's Dubai World Cup (G1).
The second part of that sentence may come as a surprise to those who have knocked the field behind California Chrome and Arrogate. But in terms of accomplishment, the entire field, is comparable to last year's Dubai World Cup field.
Should 2016 Clark Handicap (G1) winner Gun Runner make it out of quarantine in time to start, the Pegasus could feature eight grade/group 1 winners as he could join Arrogate, California Chrome, Eragon, Keen Ice, Noble Bird, Ralis, and Shaman Ghost. That is comparable to the seven grade 1/group 1 winners going into last year's Dubai World Cup of California Chrome, Hoppertunity, Special Fighter, Frosted, Mshawish, Keen Ice, and Hokko Tarumae.
Noble Bird - Rick Samuels Photo
As a January race, the Pegasus is not going to attract 3-year-olds and, going forward, will require some added planning by the connections of any European-based horse. Allowing for those factors, the depth of the Pegasus field is rather strong.
Does that mean any of the other 10 will challenge all-time North American earnings leader California Chrome and 2016 Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) winner Arrogate? Not necessarily, but it's not like any horse challenged those two in the Breeders' Cup Classic, where runner-up California Chrome finished 10 3/4 lengths in front of third-place Keen Ice; or the Dubai World Cup where Arrogate didn't race but California Chrome defeated all comers by 3 3/4 lengths.
Following are the top accomplishments of the possible Pegasus field:
Champions: Arrogate (assuming he'll win 2016 3-year-old male Eclipse), California Chrome, Shaman Ghost (Canada)
Classic winners: Breaking Lucky (Canada), California Chrome, Shaman Ghost (Canada)
Multiple group I/grade I winners: Arrogate, California Chrome, Eragon
Group I/grade I winners: Arrogate, California Chrome, Eragon, Keen Ice, Noble Bird, Ralis, Shaman Ghost, Gun Runner
As for the rest of the field, two-time grade II winner Prayer for Relief hasn't won since 2013, but the 45-race veteran placed in a group II race in Dubai last year. War Story and Neolithic are in form as War Story earned his first stakes win Dec. 17 with a 7 3/4-length romp in the Queen's County Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack and Neolithic is entered off a nine-length allowance race win Dec. 14 at Gulfstream.