Justify worthy of Eclipse accolades while Accelerate can pocket the cash
For some, it is about the money. For others, it is the glory.
We know racing’s equine elite can be both rich and famous, but this is a week in America when two stars of the track have had to be one or the other.
Justify, latest winner of the American Triple Crown, retired through injury not long after landing the G1 Belmont Stakes in June, so he was only capable of the glory, in which he was duly covered when unanimously voted Horse Of The Year at the annual Eclipse Awards.
But Accelerate, winner of the G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic, and touted as a contender for the title, gets his chance to collect huge prize money by taking Saturday’s third running of the Pegasus World Cup, over nine furlongs, at Gulfstream Park, Florida.
A full field of 12 will face the starter, but on paper the race lacks depth with City Of Light, the G1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner, the logical danger to Accelerate, who can continue the great run of trainer John Sadler and jockey Joel Rosario.
The dirt feature sees its prize money dropped to US$9m (down from US$12m last year) in order to accommodate a new Pegasus World Cup Turf, worth US$7m and run over nine and a half furlongs on the same card.
The major Turf contenders are Yoshida, winner of the G1 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga, Channel Maker, and the Irish visitor Magic Wand, winner of the G1 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot.
The money on offer for the Pegasus is enormous, but as its backers are finding, it is hard to sell the race in the northern hemisphere in January, when most are preparing for the long season ahead.
Globally, it is a busy weekend with Saturday’s Sun Met meeting at Kenilworth, Cape Town, featuring four G1 races, highlighted by the Met itself, in which rising star Do It Again is favoured to beat last year’s winner Oh Susanna.
While on Sunday in Hong Kong, an excellent 10-race card features the G3 Centenary Vase, in which the brothers Time Warp and Glorious Forever meet again, this time over nine furlongs, while the first leg of the Four-Year-Old Triple Crown, the HK Classic Mile, has drawn a collection of Derby hopefuls, headed by Dark Dream.