The field has been set for the $12 million Pegasus World Cup being contested the end of January at Gulfstream Park. The World Cup got me wondering if harness racing could pull something like this off.
Being a smaller sport, it is obvious we could not have a race where each starting gate spot would go for a $1 million entry fee; $250,000 is out of the question too. A $100,000 fee to reserve a spot where you could enter whichever horse you wanted seems like a reasonable entry point, resulting in a $1 million purse.
The problem is what horses wold you get to race in such an event? The conditions of the thoroughbred race is 4 year olds and up. Being the race is contested in January, it means last year's 3 year old stars would be eligible to compete against older horses. Since the standardbred racing industry basically shuts downs in the winter months (with all due respect to Cal Expo and Pompano Park), a race like this could not be contested in January; most likely needing to be contested in November or December, after the Breeders Crown so the conditions would be three year olds and up.
Now nominations take place a year before the race so the speculators would be able to find a horse to compete in the race, either already owned or acquired via auction or private purchase so finding people to buy slots may not be the issue, assuming you could find horses worth competing. There lies the problem.
What horses would have been worth entering in the race if contested this past November? Entering Always B Miki, Freaky Feet Pete, Wiggle It Jiggleit are no brainers with Shamballa and Mel Mara possibilities; that would make five horses. Which other horses would be worthy of entering? I checked with a fellow contributor to this blog as to which horses would make up a field of ten and he didn't think it was possible.
So to answer the question as to How would a Pegasus World Cup work in harness racing? The answer appears to be not well. That said, if you can think of any other horses which would be able to compete in this race with a reasonable chance of finishing in the top five, let me know.
I just completed the book Murray Brown: Book Full and Closed which was written by Victoria M. Howard and Bob Marks and available on Amazon. The book is an excellent read, especially if you are interested in harness racing (which reading this blog would be the case).
In this book, Murray Brown, a harness racing institution in himself, not only goes over his upbringing and how it lead him to Hanover, he provides tidbits of his experiences in the breeding industry and provides insight into some of the individuals he has dealt with in his career. If you are interested in harness racing but don't understand the breeding game, this book is a great introduction into the breeding world. Not in great detail, but it provides you with a sampling; enough to understand what is involved with breeding.
The best thing about the book is it is a light read. It doesn't get bogged down in the nitty gritty for which no doubt there are 'text' books to read. Readers will find the book entertaining and if not interrupted, will most likely finish the book in one session. I highly recommend it.