The world’s richest ever race takes place on Saturday January 28 with the $12m on offer just one of many sub-plots running through the inaugural Pegasus World Cup.
Eye-watering prize money aside, the Invitational event at Gulfstream Park will also serve up an intriguing re-match between the ever-popular California Chrome and this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, Arrogate.
And despite the latter’s victory at Santa Anita, it’s the legion of Chromies who are putting their money down. The recently crowned American Horse of the Year has been well-backed to avenge that defeat on his final ever appearance at a racecourse before being retired to stud.
At least that was the case before the draw was made on the Monday night in the lead-up to the race.
California Chrome has been handed a tricky wide berth in stall 12 while Arrogate will start from an inner position in gate one.
The reaction from our trading floor has seen Arrogate cut into even-money favouritism while Chrome is now a 6/5 shot.
Veteran trainer Art Sherman said: “Chrome is Chrome.”
“He’s got tactical speed. I was hoping that we would get closer inside. He will overcome all this, believe me. We can’t make any excuses.”
Ultimately, both starting positions hold potential pitfalls meaning there could be value elsewhere, even if it’s just for a horse to hit the frame.
Argentine raider Eragon is another attracting attention with the 50/1 shot specially purchased with this race in mind.
The six-year-old is a three-time Group 1 winner in his homeland and there’s obviously a few of you who think he can mount some sort of challenge in more exulted company.
Meanwhile, one who does have experience of pushing the best racehorses around is the Todd Pletcher-trained, Keen Ice.
Third in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic, this likeable sort once inflicted a shock when beating American Pharaoh in the Travers Stakes back in August 2015.
Whether he can match that effort remains to be seen but he can’t be discounted from taking some place money.
Pletcher also saddles 20/1 chance Neolithic. Both of his two career wins have come at Gulfstream Park, including a career-best at the track last time out.
The four-year-old looks set to be up with the pace and that could play out well should the two market leaders find themselves hampered early on.
Shaman Ghost is the final entrant on our shortlist. The five-year-old has been bred by the stable of Frank Stronach, the owner of Gulfstream Park and creator of the Pegasus World Cup.
His biggest achievement to date was upsetting hot favourite Frosted in last September’s Woodward Stakes to claim a maiden Grade 1 victory.
If Shaman Ghost can replicate that sort of form then he’ll be a very lively player.
Latest Ladbrokes Betting:
Pegasus World Cup
Arrogate – Evens
California Chrome – 6/5
Neolithic – 20/1
Noble Bird – 25/1
Shaman Ghost – 25/1