Why it’s different
When the Pegasus World Cup Invitational was announced last May, racing enthusiasts and industry insiders immediately took note. “It’s one of the most inventive ideas that horse racing has come up with in a long time,” says Alex Waldrop, CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.
If the fastest horse is still considered the winner, what makes this race so special? A lot of it comes down to timing and structure:
1. The winnings are generated by investors, not by bettors and waging
In an event like the Kentucky Derby, the winner’s purse is generated by investors after taking into account the entry fees paid by the participants. However, the Pegasus World Cup Invitational stands out in particular for selling the 12 spots in the race for $1 million each to individual investors who are then guaranteed a place at the starting gate, making the first place win worth $7,000,000. Compare that with last year’s Kentucky Derby win at $1,631,600.
2. The investors can do whatever they like with their guaranteed spot in the race
An investor can lease out the spot to an interested party, send out their own chosen horse to race, or the sell the spot for more money. For example, California Chrome LLC, the partnership that owns and races the 2014 Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome, have bought a spot and plan to race their champion horse in the Pegasus World Cup Invitational.
3. Everyone who invested in the race will share in the revenue generated from it
And that revenue includes funds raised from any sponsorships, media, and merchandise.
4. The race takes place in January -- an off season for Thoroughbred racing
Not only does the Pegasus World Cup Invitational take up that horrible, boring weekend before the Super Bowl where nothing else is really going on, it also single-handedly shook awake horse racing's predictable yearly routine. Winter is a time when the horses preparing to race in the Triple Crown events of the spring (the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes) rest up, while older horses are retired for breeding after fall’s Breeder’s Cup event. This means that the PWCI could be an older horse’s last chance to have a final moment in the spotlight, or to face a rival one last time.