The Pegasus is no longer the world's richest race. The purse for the Jan. 26 renewal has been cut to $9 million. But the other $7 million has been allocated to a companion turf race. It's a prudent move, especially since horsemen's resistance dictated that there was no way the Pegasus would have been funded at its previous level. Double the number of world class races might make the day an even more attractive event for fans. Insane jackpot bets will reach their nadir that day. Gulfstream will offer a bet challenging fans to pick the exact finish, 1 through 12, of each of those races. It's only a 480 million to one shot. A companion bet will ask bettors to pick the exact order of finish in both races. The odds against that--480,000,000 times 480,000,000--would be laughable if The Stronach Group didn't plan to go ahead with it.


The Stronach Group has allowed common sense to prevail over ego.

TSG announced this week that there will be a Pegasus World Cup in 2019 at Gulfstream. This was a given in racing circles, so much so that owners of some top horses announced it as a prime target.

However, the purse will not be a world record $16 million, as it was last year, or even $12 million, as it was in 2017. Sixteen million dollars will still be at stake on Jan. 26 but divided between the Pegasus World Cup on the main track and a new Pegasus World Cup Turf. The main track stakes will go for $9 million-- down $7 million--with $4 million going to the winner. The Turf will hang up a $7 million pot, $3 million to the winner.

While Gulfstream can no longer boast of hosting the world’s richest race (this distinction goes back to the Dubai World Cup) it can lay claim to being the home of the richest American dirt and grass races.

The first two editions of the Pegasus lured the reigning Horse of the Year. The hope is this will happen again and the Turf will attract the best grass horses in the world. If the latter group comes from Europe, all the better. It would enhance the betting appeal of the race on the continent. A representative from Japan would be a grand slam, since it would open betting there, where tens of millions of dollars are routinely wagered on a single race.

The Pegasus announcement broke the radio silence in effect at Gulfstream. There have been no press conferences nor press releases, unlike the previous two years when the race was trumpeted many months out. Clearly, the Pegasus was not the sure thing many had assumed.

Funding of the stakes was the primary issue. Frank Stronach was able to cajole a dozen people to ante up $1 million eight months out from the inaugural Pegasus. Subscribers were promised shares of TV revenue, which turned out to be zero; advertising, which wound up helping to fund the staging of the race, and other ancillary profits, which were negligible. It turned into a financial bloodbath for most of them. Each starter was guaranteed $350,000 and that is all most received.

Getting owners to ante up $1 million apiece for 2018 became a challenge, an insurmountable one in some cases even though Frank Stronach went into his own pocket for $4 million to ratchet the purse still higher. To fill the starting gate, TSG had to allow some horses in at a cut rate with the stipulation they would be running for a greatly reduced share of the purse. Without a new model for Pegasus 3.0, it probably would have been impossible to get anyone to commit for the full nominating fee.

Aesthetically, the event has been a fabulous success. Celebrity laden crowds packed Gulfstream for both editions. On the track, reigning Horse of the Year California Chrome and superstar of the moment Arrogate headed the first field. Newly named HoY Gun Runner brought star power last year.

Pegasus 3 might be the best yet with twice the number of world class races. Do you think it matters a whit to fans that they will "only" offer $9 million and $7 million?

480 million to one

There is a comical sidelight to the new Pegasus format. TSG also announced it will introduce a new wager, challenging bettors to pick the exact order of finish, 1 through 12, of each race. $5 million is guaranteed to anyone who succeeds in either race. The cost of the wager was not revealed but even at a penny it is over-priced. According to my amateurish calculations the odds on a perfect ticket are just under 480 million-to-one.

It gets even sillier. There also will be a $15 million jackpot for someone who correctly picks the 1-through-12 order of finish in both races. The odds against this are so ridiculously high that the calculator on my computer couldn’t provide the answer without resorting to the kind of symbols you see on “The Big Bang Theory.” Suffice it to say, it is well into the billions.

Stronach 5 over-priced

Not as absurd but still over-priced is the revised Stronach 5 wager, which resumes Friday.

This is a reworking of the discontinued Magna 5, five races at Stronach tracks run within an hour. Laurel will serve as the hub and the rake is a commendable 12 percent. However, the pricing is a problem.

The minimum wager is $1. Gulfstream, Santa Anita, Laurel and Golden Gate, which will host races in the sequence, each have their own Pick 5. All have 50-cents minimums.

The motivation for the increased tariff is obvious. It’s to build a jackpot carryover. When there wasn’t a perfect ticket in the Magna 5, 75 percent of the pool carried over. The entire pool will carry over in the Stronach 5.

The bet will be difficult enough. Few fans have a strong handle on the horses, trainers and jockeys at all four tracks, especially Golden Gate, where the caliber of racing is well below that of the other Stronach tracks. Undoubtedly, the racing secretaries will be encouraged to card their most challenging races in the Stronach 5. Doubling the cost of the Fridays-only bet will discourage massive spreading. Fewer combinations increases the chance of a carryover.

Fridays at the Stronach tracks will be like Sundays at church. You make whatever donation you can afford then forget about it.

Sports horror story

It hasn’t taken long for the legalization of sports betting in New Jersey to produce its first horror story.

This past weekend at the Meadowlands, one bettor, Anthony Price, thought he saw a real opportunity in the in-game betting pool of Denver-Oakland. The Broncos trailed 19-17 into the final minute when they completed a pass deep into Raider territory that set up an easy field goal.

FanDuel, which manages sports gambling at the Meadowlands, inadvertently put up a proposition that listed the Broncos at 175-1 to win the game, which they did. The company, which disingenuously brags in its fantasy football TV ads that bettors can get rich on a small wager, said it meant to make the price minus-600 (1-to-6) on Denver because of its admirable position. It sold Price a ticket that promised $82,610 for his $110 bet. Alas, when he went to the window to collect, he was told he would be paid a net gain of only $18.35, which would have been the payoff at 1-6.

They said they had a glitch in their system so they were not obligated to pay the big money, according to Price.

Clearly this was a mistake on the house’s part. But if they are allowed to get away with this, what would prevent them from saying they made a mistake when they posted an inferior team as the favorite in a game so they are not paying?

FanDuel is suffering many times $81,000 in bad publicity. A single commercial during an NFL game costs many times more than $81,000. The dispute has been reported on almost every sports betting site and countless blogs. Even the Racing Form did a story on it.


It might have been more prudent to just quietly pay off Price then take steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Is anyone surprised Price is getting a lawyer? I like his chances. In Nevada when such things happen, the Gaming Commission always sides with the house. Of course in Nevada, the Gaming Commission and the casinos are tighter than the Kardashians.

However, the rules in New Jersey, which haven’t been around long enough to have all the kinks worked out, say a bet-taker cannot unilaterally rescind a bet without prior approval of the State Gambling Commission. Advantage Price.

I’m not a lawyer. But if I were representing Price, I would open and close my case with one question for FanDuel. “If the Broncos had missed the kick, would you have given Price his $110 back?”