John Pricci

HorseRaceInsider.com executive editor John Pricci has over three decades of experience as a thoroughbred racing public handicapper and was an award-winning journalist while at New York Newsday for 18 years.

John has covered 14 Kentucky Derbies and Preaknesses, all but three Breeders' Cups since its inception in 1984, and has seen all but two Belmont Stakes live since 1969.

Currently John is a contributing racing writer to MSNBC.com, an analyst on the Capital Off-Track Betting television network, and co-hosts numerous handicapping seminars. He resides in Saratoga Springs, New York.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017


GREEN BAY PACKERS 35 - KANSAS CITY CHIEFS 10


Prior to the post draw for the inaugural Pegasus World Cup Invitational, master of ceremonies Pete Aiello, a race caller who has come very far, very fast, introduced Frank Stronach, who has come very far over a very long period of time.

“At the beginning a lot of people asked me how come, why the Pegasus?”

“First of all,” Stronach began to explain, “I were fortunate enough to buy this racetrack.

“After we came up with the idea for a race, I started looking in books for a good name. Pegasus was a great icon. Since life is sometimes a battle of good spirits and bad spirits, we thought it was a good name.

“The horse has always served mankind. There wouldn’t have been an America without the horse in the West.

“The Breeders’ Cup does a great job for racing, and the Dubai World Cup is a great race. We thought the end of January would be a perfect time between the two. Good horses can run in this race and still make their stud dates for the year.

“We have two very good horses to start. We all must do what we can do, band together for the good of the sport.”

The Triple Crown has long been acknowledged as American racing’s best hoof forward. And the Breeders’ Cup--which had a profound effect this year as the recent Eclipse Award ceremony demonstrated--often has been described as racing’s Super Bowl because of its end-of-year championship implications.

But both events are a series of races. The Pegasus is a singular event, the world’s richest horse race, and no one, not even Stronach, Mr. Zeus himself, knows how it will all come out in the end, so appropriate for 2017.

And so a post-position draw was conducted and it turns out that one of the two very good horses will start closest to the rail, the other from the grandstand. Interesting how, given their physical attributes and style, each was given a unique obstacle to overcome.

As we watched the draw ceremonies at Frankey’s sports bar, not eponymously named but rather for Stronach’s grandson, we couldn’t help draw similarities with the inaugural running of the Marlboro Cup Invitational at Belmont Park in 1973.

That event was billed as “The Battle of Stablemates” between two champions; the 1972 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes-winning Riva Ridge versus that year’s Triple Crown champion, the mighty Secretariat.

The handicap race had a storied and impactful history and was the first major outside-the-box sponsored event. But, alas it had a short run--not meant to Bee Bee Bee.

image
Stronach in front of the icon he conjured
The inaugural Pegasus is best branded as “The Rematch” between a two-time Horse of the Year champion and his Breeders’ Cup Classic champion conqueror, the only time the two have met on a playing field.

Among the dozen Pegasus entrants is a handful of strong supporting characters and the post positions lend an added element of intrigue, also providing a slightly better chance to produce what would remain an upset of major proportions.

In a larger context, the Pegasus can be more than a great horse race. It just could represent the future, a sign of the way major racing events will be conducted long after most of us are on the wrong side of the turf course.

It could even travel the globe one day, the way Breeders’ Cup used to travel across North America. No one knows what will be, just as no one knows how it all will go on Saturday.

But make no mistake. Frank Stronach, as he often has--admittedly not always with the best results—created a unique event staged at a unique, forward-looking latter-day American racetrack.

Saturday’s racing Super Bowl doesn’t figure to be a blowout in the manner of the first meeting between the National Football League and a bastard child D.B.A. the American Football League.

For this game’s sake, the hope is that at the end of the day, the score will be as it stands right now: Pegasus 1 – Chimera 0.

b>Photo by Toni Pricci

Hallandale Beach, FL., January 24, 2017


Written by John Pricci

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