Pegasus No Longer a ”World” Cup

January 4, 2023

Life is Good, winner of the 2022 edition of the Pegasus World Cup (Coglianese)

By Laura Pugh

It’s time we took the “World” out of the Pegasus World Cup… wouldn’t you agree?

In the first couple years after its inauguration, The Pegasus World Cup lived up to its hype, its billing, and the intention it was created with…. That was to keep top horses around longer and give fans another top spectacle before stars were ushered away to the breeding shed. 

The idea of a purse created by owner buy-ins was also pretty novel and brought a bit more of a sporting gesture to the race. The fact that it was situated roughly two months from the Dubai World Cup also made it desirable as a “prep” for those targeting Dubai for the first few years of its history.

However, since the creation of the Saudi Cup, the Pegasus has quickly fallen out of favor. What started as a great way to extend rivalries and present a “passing of the torch” has faded away.

Owners aren’t interested in putting up their own money when they can go to Saudi Arabia and run for 20 million without putting down a cool million of their own, just to enter. They can’t run their horses in both races because they are too close together for the horses to run back effectively. Two Pegasus winners have tried only to perform drastically worse in the Saudi World Cup.

Mucho Gusto attempted the double first in 2020 but finished a struggling fourth place in the Saudi Cup. Knicks Go attempted the double the following year and wound up finishing a dull fourth as well. So, naturally, owners opt for the richer, less expensive to enter Saudi World Cup… Leaving the Pegasus World Cup as leftovers for second-stringers. 

Last year, we did see a matchup between Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Knicks Go and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Life is Good. However, after those two, there was a large drop in class. The year before, it was Knicks Go and “the rest.” This year, the Pegasus looks like it will be lucky to draw any big names at all. 

It’s unfortunate, but I think it’s time to admit that the Pegasus World Cup has been usurped. It is a nice stakes race to get the year started for the older male division, but it’s not a “World Cup”. It’s time to lose the title and return it to the Donn Handicap. 

Contributing Authors

Laura Pugh

Laura Pugh

Laura Pugh got her first taste of Thoroughbred racing when she watched War Emblem take the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2002. At that...

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