Millionaire Arklow, winner of New York’s Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic and one of America’s top turf horses, is on target to make his next two starts in the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25 and the $6 million Longines Dubai Sheema Classic, Donegal Racing founder Jerry Crawford announced.
Luis Saez will ride the 6-year-old Arklow in the Pegasus Turf, Crawford said. Saez won Gulfstream Park’s 2017-2018 Champions meet riding title and lost the 2018-2019 crown by a single win behind reigning Eclipse Award-winning jockey Irad Ortiz.
The 1 3/16-mile Pegasus World Cup Turf is part of a blockbuster card Jan. 25 in south Florida, while the 1 1/2-mile Dubai Sheema Classic is part of the March 28 Dubai World Cup card that is one of the world’s premier race days.
Trained by Brad Cox, Arklow is one of eight Grade 1 winners who received invitations to the Pegasus World Cup Turf, along with seven other graded-stakes winners.
“Arklow is a world-class horse, and his dance card in 2020 will reflect that,” Crawford said. “He’s always in the hunt and is a major threat to win every race he is in. As he proved in the Joe Hirsch, when things break his way, watch out. Even in defeat, he never loses by much and always tries.
“Even in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Turf, he might have finished eighth but lost by only a total of 2 3/4 lengths behind likely Horse of the Year Bricks and Mortar while racing wide and having to cover more ground than any horse in the field. We don’t have to contend with Bricks and Mortar this year, and I think Arklow is sitting on a huge 2020. We’re excited about having Luis, who might be the most underrated superstar jockey today.”
According to Trakus, the high-tech timing system, no horse in the Breeders’ Cup Turf raced farther than Arklow. Trakus reports that Arklow ran 70 feet farther than Bricks and Mortar, 104 feet farther than runner-up United and 114 feet more than third-place Anthony Van Dyke. Arklow also had the fastest Ragozin and Thoro-Graph handicapping numbers of any horse in the Breeders’ Cup Turf owing to the extra distance he traveled.
Arklow has won six of 24 starts, along with six seconds and two thirds, while accruing $1,816,382 in purse earnings for his career. The horse, a son of the late Claiborne Farm stallion Arch and a $160,000 yearling purchase by Donegal, achieved a graded-stakes victory at age 3, 4 and 5, including the Grade 3 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup in 2018, then worth $750,000. Arklow was second in the $1 million running of the Kentucky Turf Cup in 2019, avenging his defeat to Zulu Alpha in the Joe Hirsch at Belmont Park.
Even faced with a couple of fluky setbacks in 2019, Arklow finished in the top three and earned $743,000 in five of the six races in which he finished, having unseated his rider shortly after the start in his 5-year-old debut, a debacle that impacted the first part of his season. Arklow also finished fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf in 2018.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to run in the Pegasus Turf,” said Cox, who is a finalist for the Eclipse Award as North America’s outstanding trainer in 2019. “When Arklow is doing well, he’ll let you know. And right now he is doing really well. He’s always been a horse that we thought would get better with age. I do think he’s set up for a big year.”
In addition to managing partner and majority owner Donegal Racing, Arklow campaigns for Joseph Bulger and Peter Coneway. Donegal’s partners in Arklow include Nick Nurse, coach of the reigning NBA champions Toronto Raptors.
Donegal Racing was founded in 2008 and two years later had its first Breeders’ Cup starter as Paddy O’Prado, a Grade 1 winner on turf and the Kentucky Derby third-place finisher, came in fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. The partnership has had at least one Breeders’ Cup starter every year since with the exception of 2013. Keen Ice, who in taking Saratoga’s Travers Stakes became the only horse to defeat Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in 2015, was third in the 2016 Classic after taking fourth in 2015.
Donegal also has won Grade 1 races with Dullahan (who was third in the 2012 Kentucky Derby), Finnegans Wake and Carrick. Unlike some partnerships, where horses are syndicated individually, Donegal partners buy into an entire crop of horses purchased each year so that everyone shares in the success.