with Horse and Hound

Free Market Funds Largest Purse In Thoroughbred Racing

Florida’s Gulfstream Park is offering a new race—the Pegasus World Cup—featuring a twelve million dollar purse, the largest in Thoroughbred racing. The first running will be on January 28, 2017.

The mouth-watering purse, funded by a free-market concept, has attracted an international scramble just for a place in the starting gate. Each of the twelve gates costs entrants one million dollars.

Not all the buyers are owners with outstanding horses. Some gates were bought by swinging sportsmen and women to be sold, shared, or leased to other owners, under any number of business-like arrangements.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The gambit has attracted people like longtime race fan Dan Schafer, a 33-year-old entrepreneur who owns pizza shop franchises in the Midwest and a free daily fantasy sports site. He purchased a spot in the gate without so much as a horseshoe because he saw the race as an innovative way to be involved in racing—rather than the well-trod path of buying a young horse and praying it has Kentucky Derby potential.”

“‘I believe in the industry,’ he said. ‘To grow the sport, we need to grow the fan base. There are a lot of skeptics, but skeptics are going to be our biggest watchers.’”

Billionaire Frank Stronach, eighty-four, founder of an auto parts empire in Canada, devised the format of the race. His Stronach Group controls topnotch race tracks such as Gulfstream, Santa Anita, and Pimlico.

Stronach’s daughter Belinda is chairman and president of the Stronach Group. Their aim is to make racing cool and exciting. All gates are sold, and the purse is full.

California Chrome, 2014 Horse of the Year, with record-setting earnings of over fourteen million dollars, has a spot. Arrogate—who won the Travers Stakes at Saratoga, setting a new track record, then went on to beat California Chrome in the Breeders Cup Classic last fall—is not yet committed. However, trainer Bob Baffert has had inquiries from gate owners.

For more details, see Pia Catton’s complete article.

Posted December 15, 2016