North America’s largest thoroughbred racing company plans to inject some badly needed excitement into a stagnant industry by promoting the world’s priciest horse race next January.
Last week, the Stronach Group announced plans to hold the Pegasus World Cup at its Gulfstream Park track in Florida on Jan. 28, 2017. The 1+1/8 mile race will be limited to 12 horses, whose owners must pony up $1m apiece for the right to compete.
Aside from vying for the world’s largest purse – the Dubai World Cup’s purse is a paltry $10m – owners will share equally in 100% of the net income from the race’s pari-mutuel handle, as well as from media rights and sponsorships.
Once their $1m check has cleared, owners will have the right to lease, contract or share a starter with whomever they choose, or even sell their starting berth outright. As a further incentive, the original dozen entrants will have first crack at berths in future Pegasus World Cup events.
Stronach Group chairman Frank Stronach first floated the race concept in January as a way to allow racing to compete with other top sports. Stronach said the onus was on large operators like himself to “make things exciting, things the press will write about.”
Certainly, racing could use some positive press. Most racing mentions in the media nowadays involve the sport of kings coming crown in hand to state governments, looking for ever greater handouts to offset declining interest in racing. The absence of a viable Triple Crown contender contributed to a decline in wagering on this year’s Kentucky Derby.
The Pegasus event mimics the poker world’s $1m buy-in Big One For One Drop event, although that super-duper-high-roller tournament was ostensibly aimed at raising money for charity. Still, given the state of racing, Stronach’s gambit bolsters the cliché that charity begins at home.
Starlight Racing founder Jack Wolf has been appointed CEO of the Pegasus World Cup, while Breeders Cup board member Tom Ludt will help coordinate and promote the event. Wolf warned that the race’s slots are available on a “first come, first served” basis, so start checking your piggy bank for spare $1m gold doubloons now.