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Big-money Pegasus World Cup adds turf race for 2019 return

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. (AP) The Pegasus World Cup is back, and now has a second race.

The Stronach Group announced Tuesday the 2019 Pegasus will be a two-race event, one a $9 million race on the dirt and now a $7 million turf race will be part of the Jan. 26 card at Gulfstream Park as well.

The first two Pegasus World Cups only offered one dirt race.

Those also required a $1 million entry fee. The 2019 event will carry a $500,000 entry fee, with the total purse for the two races matching the $16 million that the lone race had last year.

“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, the chairman and 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.”

If the same ownership group wins both races, The Stronach Group will pay a $1 million bonus. The winner of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational, which will be on dirt at 1 1/8 miles, gets $4 million. The winner of the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational, to be run at 1 3/16 miles, gets $3 million.

Adding a turf race was something The Stronach Group has considered for some time, and many of the sport’s top owners had lobbied for there to be a grass option – the belief there being the additional spectacle would only help racing grow.

“There is no better way to do that than to provide a new platform to showcase the world’s best thoroughbreds,” Coolmore Stud founder John Magnier said.

Arrogate won the inaugural Pegasus race in 2017, and Gun Runner prevailed this past January.

Their purses for those wins – $7 million apiece – are a big reason why they are the two top horses in terms of earnings in North American racing history. Arrogate sits atop that list at $17.4 million, Gun Runner is second at just under $16 million.

Jockey suspended for using whip on another rider in Arkansas

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) A jockey has been suspended 60 days for misusing his whip – not on a horse – but on another rider in a race at an Arkansas track.

A stewards’ ruling posted Thursday on the Association of Racing Commissioners International website alleges that David Cohen “deliberately” whipped fellow jockey Edgar Morales several times during the eighth race at Oaklawn Park on April 6.

Cohen and his horse Bolita Boyz were forced wide into the stretch by Morales and No Funny Biz. The two raced side-by-side through the stretch, with Cohen whipping his mount left-handed and apparently also striking Morales.

Neither horse won the race.

Upon returning to the jockeys’ room, the ruling said that Morales confronted Cohen, telling him, “You whipped me more than you did your horse.” Morales testified at a hearing that Cohen replied, “Be patient and don’t take me wide.”

Morales testified he had four welts on his right thigh from Cohen’s whip. Although jockeys can be accidentally struck by a whip in a race, Morales told stewards that “it was not an accident, he meant to do it.”

According to the ruling, Cohen said he wouldn’t deliberately hit another jockey with his whip and that if it happened it was accidental.

The ruling said other riders and valets testified they overheard a discussion in the jockeys’ room and that they considered Cohen’s admission as indicative of a deliberate action rather than being accidental.

The stewards agreed with Morales after finding that Cohen’s action was deliberate and violated multiple rules. The stewards said Cohen’s actions jeopardized the safety of other jockeys and horses in the race.

Cohen’s suspension runs from April 27 to June 25.

He was earlier suspended for April 25 and 26 by the stewards as the result of careless riding in the eighth race at Oaklawn on April 7.

His agent, Bill Castle, is appealing both suspensions.

Cohen is second in the Oaklawn jockeys’ standings, with 59 wins from 258 mounts.

Santa Anita to run three days a week, hike purses for six weeks

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ARCADIA, Calif. — Santa Anita will race three days a week instead of four over the next four weeks because the track has lost some of its horse population to out-of-state venues.

Several stables have shipped horses to Kentucky to run at Keeneland and Churchill Downs, leaving Santa Anita with fewer horses to race and smaller field sizes.

Track officials have yet to decide whether to race three days or four for the final three weeks of the spring meet, which ends June 23.

The track said Friday it is raising purses for all non-stake races by $10,000 each for the next six weeks as a way to help owners and trainers who lost money when the track was closed for most of March.

The deaths of 23 horses since Dec. 26 forced the closure while the track’s dirt surface was examined. Racing resumed March 29, with one horse death occurring since then as the result of injuries in a turf race.

The purse increase announced Friday begins April 26 and runs through June 2. Track officials will decide later whether to continue it through the end of the meet.

The increase is being funded by existing excess money in the purse account and money from The Stronach Group, which owns the track.

Thoroughbred Owners of California chairman Nick Alexander says his group will match the purse supplements funded by TSG in the hopes of returning to racing four days a week.