Pegasus: The Thrill Has Gone

It’s now in the books; the second running of the Pegasus was run this past Saturday. The Stronach Group attempted to bill this as a star-studded event, but there was only one star on the grounds Saturday. His name was Gun Runner, but he and the highly hyped Post Malone were both lost in the NBC Coverage, as the network instead prioritized promoting their upcoming Olympics coverage. The pop star’s call of riders up was just awful and had no business being televised.

Let’s get to the race. Gun Runner broke from post ten and sat just off Collected through moderate fractions early on. When Collected called it a day, last year’s top 3-year-old West Coast started to get rolling. It appeared that West Coast was going to run right past Gun Runner, but Florent Geroux set down the champ and he drew away to a comfortable 2 1/2-length victory in the end. It was over ten lengths back to the rest of the field, where Gunnevera snatched third from longshots Fear the Cowboy and Seeking the Soul.

First post was scheduled for 11:30, but the first race went at 11:37. The Pegasus finally went off at 5:47, six hours and ten minutes after the first race. The management of Gulfstream continues to thumb its nose at the scheduled post times, much to the dismay of the vast majority of its players. They constantly delay their post times, yet still manage to run at the same time as other key races around the country.

Belinda Stronach was quoted saying, “Horse racing is probably the last great sporting legacy platform that has not yet modernized, so I think the big difference now, from a number of years ago, is we view this as entertainment. We put everything through the entertainment lens. Horse racing and wagering is obviously at our core, but it’s also our responsibility to curate the content at these great properties.” She says horse racing and wagering is their core, but that’s very hard to believe. For instance, the turf course is in already total disarray early into the “Championship Meet.”

When you arrived at Gulfstream you saw the carpeted entrance for the mostly B and C list celebrities, a pop-up night club promoting the after-party. If you didn’t know where the racetrack was, you weren’t guided there. It was a party with a race attached to it. The players who have supported Gulfstream day in and day out couldn’t care less about the party. I must say the fields were full and they had very competitive races, but at a molasses pace. The players don’t enjoy having 35-40 minutes in between races.

The Pegasus is North America’s richest race, but this year it took lots of behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing to get the twelve participants. For example, every horse that ran was guaranteed a return of $650,000, unlike in the event’s first year. Will owners continue to buy these slots despite facing a monetary loss if their horse fails to make the superfecta? The thrill is gone after only two years, and it’s sad because the concept was innovative and could provide much-needed accessibility to our sport. The Stronach Group says the Pegasus will go on again in 2019, but many changes need to be made for the race to remain sustainable.

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