First things first: this is not your grandfather's horse race. The inaugural Pegasus World Cup Invitational is turning everything about Thoroughbred racing on its head, leaving industry experts, fans, and curious newcomers alike clamoring to see how the race’s debut will play out.
The event will take everything track fans love about horse racing and amp them up to levels they've never seen before. The race costs $1,000,000 per entrant, takes place surrounded by insane parties in Miami, and has a world-record $12,000,000 total purse. Yes… that’s $12,000,000 for a couple of minutes worth of hooves-on-track. We’re breaking down what it is, where it is, and how you can watch Thoroughbred racing’s most anticipated event this year.
What it is
Let’s start with the basics. The Pegasus World Cup Invitational is holding its inaugural race in Miami on January 28th at Gulfstream Park. The Pegasus World Cup is a Grade I stakes race, the highest caliber of Thoroughbred racing. A Grade I ranking means that the race has to meet a certain criteria, which includes the ages of the horses partaking in the event, the size of the winner’s purse, and the quality of the track on which the race takes place.
Twelve of the finest Thoroughbred horses that have risen through the racing ranks to make it to the stakes level will be competing for the top spot, racing on a 1 ⅛ mile track for a total purse of $12,000,000.
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.
Signature cocktail - "The Pegasus"
A race isn't truly a race until you add a signature cocktail, and the Pegasus World Cup Invitational goes big with "The Pegasus." The drink offers the perfect mix of bitter and sweet tastes, so make sure you have one in hand for start time by following the below recipe.
- Elyx, 2 oz
- POM syrup, 1 oz
- Angostura bitters, 3 dashes
- Lemon juice, 3/4 oz
- Mumm Champagne, 1 oz
- Mint, 5 leaves + garnish
Where & when to watch it
If you’re in town, you can reserve seats at one of the many venues at Gulfstream Park, the track with the giant winged Pegasus statue beckoning visitors which, if you couldn’t guess, also inspired the name of the race. Choose between general admission tickets or sit back and watch the whole thing in one of the arena’s many venues such as the paddock-side Fountain Club, the Beach House Tiki Bar, or one of the simulcast rooms.
But you don’t have to hit up the park to catch all the action. If you’re watching from home or from a bar, NBC will air 90 minutes from Gulfstream Park live, and live-stream it on NBCsports.com as well as their app. The broadcast begins at 4:30pm EST on Saturday, January 28th, 2017.
Miamians know they can take in important horse racing at Gulfstream Park almost year round. The addition of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational just ups the ante during the track's busiest season. This particular event is the type of spectacle that vibes with the Miami lifestyle. With parties all over the city and events during the big day, this is not the same type of horse race your great uncle started going to after retirement got boring.
The race also presents itself as an opportunity to show off the side of South Florida that residents have watched develop over the past decade. With its current slew of celebrity restaurants, rooftop cocktail bars, a booming arts and culture scene, A-list hotels and flawless beaches, bringing the world’s richest Thoroughbred horse race to the area seems like the next natural step for the Magic City.
While you’re in town, don’t forget to hit up some of the best places to eat and drink in Miami: