Florida’s Gulfstream Park was home to the Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series celebrating its fifth year, hosting celebrities and racing enthusiasts alike. And while the race track only welcomed 15% of its typical capacity in a socially distant setting, Belinda Stronach, the woman behind the iconic thoroughbred race, was simply happy the show could go on after an extraordinarily challenging year.
Now, for those who don’t frequent the racing circuit, Pegasus isn’t your average fête. “Most horse races are like a lovely home in the suburbs,” Belinda Stronach cleverly explains. “And the Pegasus World Cup is like a sexy penthouse on the beach in Miami.” Pegasus truly fuses the best of food, fashion and entertainment through the Magic City lens, and it’s the official kick-off for the rest of the year’s racing calendar.
“Pegasus is everything in the mix,” Stronach describes. “Guests are rubbing shoulders with celebrities, experiencing food from some of the best restaurants in Miami, and the fashion is, I would say, less traditional than Kentucky Derby. It’s very colorful and people get very creative. So, it’s a mix of everything that ends up being a whole lot of fun — and that’s the heart of it. We’re witnessing the most competitive horse racing, and in a short while it’s become very much an event that people look forward to on the racing calendar.”
This year, 1/ST teamed up with Dave Grutman — Miami’s hospitality guru — to create the Pegasus Swan Garden pop-up, offering guests an exclusive VIP experience with a Tulum take on Grutman’s Design District eatery, Swan. “We wanted to highlight our new concepts and, of course, our legacy restaurants,” Grutman shared, nodding to Winker’s Diner, Sushi Fly Chicken, and Toothfairy — three forthcoming restaurants that will be housed beneath the historic Firestone sign that has welcomed motorists to Miami Beach since the 1930s. “To be part of this incredible race is amazing for us.” 1/ST also teamed up with Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster Overtown to curate a menu of Southern classics and elevated sips for the racing connections in Gulfstream Park’s Flamingo Room.
“First and foremost, our goal as an organization around the core business of horse racing is really to modernize and reenergize the guest experience, and attract a new diverse fan base,” said Jimmy Vargas, executive vice president of entertainment for 1/ST. “Pegasus is the incubator of all our work and in my opinion, it has taken the South Florida social calendar by storm.”
The race’s star-studded attendees counted rapper Tyga, models Jasmine Sanders and Isabela Rangel Grutman, NBA all-star Amar’e Stoudemire, NHL Hall of Famer Denis Savard, artist Bradley Theodore, Jonathan Cheban, and more, as their fashionable spectators. The glitterati sauntered between the Swan Garden and edge of the race track while occasionally stopping to dance to DJ Kiss’ tunes. The day capped with a live performance by Aloe Blacc.
Even with a fraction of its standard capacity, the handle for the 2021 Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series topped $40.7 million, which is the third-highest handle in the race’s history. The success was due in part to the 1/ST BET app, which uses AI-technology to deliver a mobile wagering experience suitable that’s user-friendly and also COVID-friendly by eliminating face-to-face transactions. Though, the win above all, is that Belinda Stronach and her team proved that they could keep the racing ecosystem going while ensuring everyone’s health and safety.