Gulfstream Park has set the schedule of stakes races for its 2016-2017 championship meet, also known as the winter meet, that will run from Dec. 3 to April 2.
Highlights will be the 66th running of the $1 million Florida Derby (Grade 1) on April 1 and the inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (Grade 1) on Jan. 28.
The Pegasus will be the world’s richest thoroughbred race, supplanting the $10 million Dubai World Cup which is held each year in late March in the United Arab Emirate of Dubai.
Because of the purse money it is likely that the Pegasus will attract the owners of some of the world’s top horses. Thus, the race obtained Grade 1 status from the American Graded Stakes Committee.
The Pegasus is organized and sponsored by The Stronach Group of Aurora Ont., which is Gulfstream’s parent company.
The Pegasus will be 1 1/8 miles on dirt and will have a 12-horse field. It is for four-year-olds and up.
It will replace the Donn Handicap (Grade 1) on the schedule. The Donn had a $500,000 purse this year, and was Gulfstream’s most prestigious dirt stakes for 4-year-olds and up.
In the Pegasus. owners of each entrant will pay a $1 million entry fee. Those fees will be used to pay purses for the race.
Entrants will be able to race, lease, contract or share a starter, or sell their place in the starting gate. All entrants will not only be competing for the purse, but they will also share equally in 100 percent of the net income from [betting] handle, media rights and sponsorships from the race.
Each participant can designate a Horse A and a Horse B for the Pegasus. If a Horse A runs in the Pegasus, the Horse B will be able to run in the new $400,000 Poseidon Stakes on Jan. 28 at Gulfstream. The Poseidon also is 1 1/8 miles on dirt for four-year-olds and up.
Some details have not yet been determined, such as how the fields will be set if there are more or fewer than twelve entrants.
The Pegasus and Poseidon will be among 93 stakes races, with total purses of $25 million, in the championship meet. There will be 39 graded stakes.
As always, Gulfstream will have its progression of four stakes races for three-year-olds whose owners have hopes for the Kentucky Derby (Grade 1). That race will be on May 6, 2017.
The Gulfstream series will start with the one-mile $100,000 Mucho Macho Man Stakes kicks on Jan. 7.
It will continue with the $350,000 Holy Bull (Grade 2) on Feb. 4 and the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (Grade 2) on Mach 4. Both are 1 1/16 miles. The Florida Derby, on April 1 is 1 1/8 miles.
Here are details of major stakes days, all of which are Saturdays.
*Dec. 3 –On opening day, Gulfstream will hold the Claiming Crown for the fifth straight year.
There will be nine Claiming Crown stakes with total purses of $1.16 million. Those races will be restricted to horses that have run at or below specified claiming tags at least once during 2015 and 2016.
The feature is the $200,000 Jewel, a 1 1/8-mile dirt race for 3-year-olds and up that have raced for a claiming price of $35,000 or less in 2015 or 2016.
*Jan. 7 -- In addition to the Mucho Macho Man, the five-stakes program includes the six-furlong $100,000 Hutcheson (Grade 3) for three-year-olds.
*Jan. 21 -- The 15th edition of the Sunshine Millions will offer five stakes for Florida-bred horses. The feature is the $250,000 Sunshine Millions Classic at 1 1/8 miles on dirt.
On the evening of Jan. 21, Gulfstream Park will play host to the Eclipse Awards for the fifth consecutive year.
*Jan. 28 --The Pegasus and the Poseidon will be among seven stakes.
The undercard will include the $200,000 W. L. McKnight Handicap (Grade 3) for four-year-olds and up and the $200,000 La Prevoyante (G3) for fillies and mares four-years-old and up. Both are 1 ½-miles on turf, and both have received a $100,000 purse increase.
*Feb. 4 – The Holy Bull tops a program with five stakes for three-year-olds. Included are the $200,000 Swale (Grade 2) at seven furlongs on dirt for males and the $200,000 Forward Gal (Grade 2) at seven furlongs on dirt for fillies,
*Feb. 11 – Four-year-olds and up will be in the spotlight with the $350,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (Grade 2) at one mile on dirt and the $350,000 Gulfstream Park Turf (Grade 1) at 1 1/8 miles.
*March 4 --The Fountain of Youth will anchor a program with nine stakes, including eight graded stakes.
*April 1-- The Florida Derby will be one of nine stakes races on the final Saturday of the meet.
Nyquist, the winner of this year’s Florida Derby, later won the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Horses that have run in the Florida Derby have gone on to win 58 Triple Crown races.
The Florida Derby day undercard will feature the $250,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (Grade 2) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on dirt.
The race is a major prep for the 1 1/8 mile Kentucky Oaks (Grade 1), run each year on the day prior to the Kentucky Derby.
Go Maggie Go won this year’s Gulfstream Oaks. She went on to finish fourth in the Kentucky Oaks and two weeks later won the Black Eyed Susan (Grade 2) at Pimlico in Baltimore.