Unofficially, there is one starting spot left for the lineup for the GI Pegasus World Cup, and it appears that it will be given to Fear the Cowboy (Cowboy Cal), the recent winner of the GIII Harlan’s Holiday S. at Gulfstream.
Trainer Efren Loza Jr. told the TDN that owners Kathleen Amaya and Raffaele Centofanti have committed to running in the race but are awaiting notification from The Stronach Group that they will be allowed to take the remaining spot. Considering that Fear the Cowboy is a recent stakes winner at Gulfstream and may just be the top older male horse in training who is not yet officially in the Pegasus, it seems unlikely track management would grant the spot to another horse.
“It looks like it’s 99% true that he will be running in that race, we just haven’t signed a contract with The Stronach Group yet.” Loza said. “They are in negotiation with some other people and we haven’t signed a contract yet, so I don’t want to make any official statements.”
Loza said he expected an official notification on Fear the Cowboy’s status either Tuesday or Wednesday.
After nine of 12 starting spots, costing $1 million each, were purchased at the Dec. 15 deadline for the $16-million race, The Stronach Group, the owners of Gulfstream, secured the remaining three spot and went shopping for horses to fill out the field. According to a recent report in the Daily Racing Form, two of three starting berths have been handed out to War Story (Northern Afleet) and Giant Expectations (Frost Giant).
“I believe we will be the top choice among the horses they are considering for the last spot,” Loza said.
Fear the Cowboy has proven himself to be an overachiever during his career. Purchased for just $1,500, at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky February Mixed Sale 2013, he has won 9 of 27 career starts while earning $570,869. Also the winner of the 2017 GIII Skip Away S. at Gulfstream, he seems to just now be hitting peak form.
“We know it will be a really tough race and a challenge for us, but we know our horse is in really good form and he really loves Gulfstream” Loza said. “But, obviously, he’ll be running against a different kind of horse [in the Pegasus] and it will be a big challenge. Our horse comes from the back and there is a lot of speed, so that will help. This is a race everyone wants to run in and our horse is in really good form. I know he’s a 6-year-old horse, but his last race was his best race ever.”
Javier Castellano rode Fear the Cowboy in the Harlan’s Holiday, but is already committed to West Coast (Flatter). Loza said he has some riders in mind but is not certain yet who will get the mount.
The owners of those horses that are taking over The Stronach Group spots are not required to pay the $1-million entry fee. However, they will be running for only 50% of the purse money and any money they earn above $1 million will be distributed to the nine owners who were in by Dec. 15.