What to know about the 2020 Pegasus World Cup

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With new rules and a ton of money at stake, the 2020 Pegasus World Cup Invitational Series at Gulfstream Park will be an unprecedented multi-million dollar Grade 1 race series. The $1 million and $3 million prizes draw some of the top horses from across the country and around the globe.

What is the Pegasus World Cup? The Pegasus World Cup Invitational Series is a series of two invite-only Grade 1 races held annually at Gulfstream Park since 2017 (originally only offering a dirt race before adding the turf division last year). The $3 million Pegasus World Cup runs 1 1/8 miles on the dirt, and the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf runs 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

Both races are for horses aged 4 years and older and are invitation-only. Last week, Gulfstream Park announced their preliminary list of invitees and reserve horses, and then adjusted the list after Maximum Security (the only horse in Kentucky Derby history to be disqualified on the track after finishing first) and several other horses declined their invitations.

This year, the Stronach Group, which owns Gulfstream Park and heads the Pegasus World Cup, announced major changes to the series. Both races will be run entirely medication free, as part of an industry-wide push for more safety and transparency in horse racing.

Additionally, all entry fees will be waived as purses drop. Entry fees for the Pegasus have peaked as high as $1 million in past years. The Pegasus World Cup’s purse was dropped from $9 million in 2019 to $3 million this year, and the Pegasus World Cup Turf also saw a $6 million purse decrease from $7 million to $1 million. The Stronach Group also announced that 2 percent of the purses will be donated to caring for retired Thoroughbreds ready to be retrained and rehomed.

When and where is the Pegasus World Cup? The 2020 Pegasus World Cup Invitational Series will take place on Saturday, January 25 at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida from 4:30 to 6 p.m. ET.

How can I watch the 2020 Pegasus World Cup? NBC is home to the 2020 Pegasus World Cup, providing comprehensive race coverage and analysis live on TV, in the NBC Sports app and on NBCSports.com before, during and after the two headlining races. Stream the Pegasus World Cup here.

Horses to watch:  

  • Bob Baffert’s Mucho Gusto finished 4th in the G3 Oklahoma Derby in September during his last time out. Over the summer he took third to Code of Honor in the Travers (G1) and finished second behind Maximum Security in the G1 Haskell. His last victory came on June 16 in the Affirmed Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita.
  • Higher Power finally hit his stride when he won the $1 million Pacific Classic (G1) back in August at Del Mar. He managed to salvage a third place finish in the Awesome Again Stakes (G1) in September after a bad stumble at the beginning of the race, and most recently took third again, this time in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on November 2.
  • Last year’s Pegasus World Cup runner up Seeking the Soul gets a third shot on the Gulfstream dirt. Now 7 years old, he will look to bounce back after a disappointing few months of graded losses. Seeking the Soul hasn’t won a race since the G2 Stephen Foster Stakes last June.
  • One year after finishing second in the inaugural Pegasus World Cup Turf, Aidan O’Brien’s Ireland-bred mare Magic Wand stands out as the only horse invited to both races (though she is more likely to run in the turf race). The globe-trotting 5-year-old closed out 2019 with a G1 win in Australia and a G1 win in Hong Kong.
  • Eclipse Award winner for Outstanding Trainer Chad Brown fields four horses on the turf: versatile distance runner Arklow, dirt-to-turf convert Instilled Regard, French-bred Sacred Life and Without Parole (GB), who will be running in his second career start on this side of the pond.
  • Turf youngster Mo Forza is on a roll after winning all three races he’s run since breaking his maiden. The 4-year-old son of Uncle Mo notably took the G1 Hollywood Derby at Del Mar in November.

Who won the 2910 Pegasus World Cup races? City of Light claimed the $9 million dirt race in his last career start before being retired to stud at Lane’s End. Horse of the Year finalist Bricks and Mortar, the Chad Brown-trained son of Giant’s Causeway, won the $3 million turf race. His undefeated 2019 campaign saw five Grade 1 wins in six starts, including the Arlington Million (G1) and the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1).

What else is going on at the 2020 Pegasus World Cup? For those looking for some tunes to go with their ponies, Gulfstream is bringing Nelly and T-Pain trackside to perform in their premium LIV Stretch Village. Past performers have included Snoop Dogg, Post Malone and Ludacris.

Watch the Pegasus World Cup on NBC, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app on Saturday, January 25 from 4:30 p.m. ET to 6 p.m. ET.

Flightline, Pletcher, Godolphin lead way at Eclipse Awards

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Pat McDonogh/USA TODAY NETWORK
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PALM BEACH, Fla. — Flightline ran away in all six of his races, and ran away with top honors at the Eclipse Awards on Thursday night.

And trainer Todd Pletcher, for the first time in nearly a decade, received the sport’s top prize as well.

Flightline – the now-retired winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic to cap an unbeaten six-race career – won Horse of the Year as well as the Eclipse as top Older Dirt Male. It was no surprise that Flightline took home both awards, and he’s now standing stud.

“We’ll hope that his future is as bright as his past,” co-owner Kosta Hronis said.

Godolphin was also a double winner, sweeping the Eclipses as top owner and top breeder for the second consecutive year. It was also the third consecutive top-owner Eclipse for Godolphin.

“This is truly a golden era for Godolphin racing,” said Michael Banahan, the stable’s director of bloodstock. “And these awards and accolades recognize how special it is.”

It was Pletcher’s eighth Eclipse, extending his record for the most by any trainer, and his first since 2014. It was one of the few close races in the voting; Pletcher got 108 first-place votes, while four-time Eclipse winner Chad Brown got 95 and finished second.

“This really is not an individual award. This is a team award,” Pletcher said. “This is an award about the owners, and most importantly, the horses.”

Irad Ortiz Jr. won the Eclipse as top jockey for the fourth time in the last five years; he tied Pat Day and Javier Castellano for third-most in history, behind only seven-time winner Jerry Bailey and five-time winner Laffit Pincay Jr.

Ortiz led all jockeys with more than $37 million in purses in 2022.

“Wow,” Ortiz said. “It’s been an amazing year for me.”

Forte won the Eclipse as 2-year-old male, and will enter this year’s Triple Crown season as one of the early favorites.

“We’re all in this game for a horse like Forte,” said Mike Repole, the horse’s co-owner along with Florida Panthers owner Vincent Viola and Teresa Viola. “We’re all in this game to one day maybe own a 2-year-old that has a chance. It’s great to have the Kentucky Derby favorite. … Forte’s an incredible horse.”

Epicenter won the 3-year-old male Eclipse, after running second at both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, then winning the Jim Dandy and Travers at Saratoga over the summer.

Wonder Wheel was the winner as 2-year-old filly, while Nest won the Eclipse in the 3-year-old filly division. Malathaat was the Eclipse winner for older dirt female, Goodnight Olive for female sprinter and Regal Glory for female turf horse.

Elite Power was picked as the top male sprinter, Modern Games won the Eclipse for male turf horse, and Hewick was the Eclipse winner in the steeplechase division.

Jose Antonio Gomez won as top apprentice jockey.

The Eclipse Awards are voted on by members of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, the Daily Racing Form and National Turf Writers And Broadcasters.

Trainer Bob Baffert’s ban from racing in New York is over

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Courier Journal/USA TODAY Sports
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Bob Baffert can once again enter horses at New York’s major tracks.

The Hall of Fame trainer’s one-year ban by the New York Racing Association ended Wednesday, allowing him to enter horses as soon as Thursday.

“I was disappointed they even did it, but it’s water under the bridge,” Baffert told The Associated Press by phone.

He was suspended last June for repeated medication violations, although none of them occurred in New York. He was barred from Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga. A panel credited Baffert for time served for an initial suspension, which allowed him to return this week.

Aqueduct is currently holding its 44-day winter meet that runs through March 26. Baffert doesn’t typically run horses this time of year in New York; he targets the biggest stakes races at Belmont in the spring and Saratoga in the summer.

Baffert remains under a two-year ban by Churchill Downs Inc., which sidelined him after Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit tested positive for a substance that is not allowed on race day. The penalty expires shortly after the Kentucky Derby in May. However, Baffert is fighting the suspension in federal court.

The Southern California-based trainer has a big weekend coming up around the country, although not in New York.

He has horses running at three tracks on Saturday.

Defunded is entered in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream in Florida, where Baffert assistant Jimmy Barnes will be on hand.

Arabian Knight goes into the $750,000 Southwest Stakes as the early favorite at Oaklawn in Arkansas. Baffert has won the Kentucky Derby prep race a record-tying five times and will travel to Hot Springs to watch the 3-year-old colt.

“It’s going to be a good test for him. The only way to find out is to run him long,” he said. “It’s going to take a superior horse to do that and I’m hoping that he is.”

The Southwest offers Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top five finishers. Arabian Knight won’t receive any points regardless of his placing because of Baffert’s Derby ban.

Hopper will run in the $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita.

On Sunday at the same track, Baffert has entered four of the five horses set to run in the $200,000 San Vicente Stakes for 3-year-olds.