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-   -   in defense of the Pegasus- what it's REALLY about (http://www.paceadvantage.com/forum/showthread.php?t=143003)

dilanesp 01-26-2018 07:41 PM

in defense of the Pegasus- what it's REALLY about
 
Jay Hovdey, for the second year in a row, has published a screed against his least favorite race, the Pegasus, in the Racing Form. It's behind a paywall, but you have heard all the arguments-- it's only a mile and an eighth, the purse is phony and needlessly complicated, it's not a true world championship as billed because it is run at the start of the racing season, etc.

All of those arguments (plus cj's arguments here about timing and runup) are very legitimate. But they also kind of miss the point.

And I don't just mean the point of "this race has now drawn 2 very good fields in 2 years", although we do know that. I mean something else as well.

To really understand why the Pegasus exists, and why it is a good thing, you need to understand that something really damaging has happened to American racing over the past 22 years.

This country used to basically have a monopoly on good dirt racing. There were some dirt tracks in South America, but the purses were much lower and the quality of competition much weaker. And there were some equitracks, which later became polytracks, scattered throughout the world, but those weren't real dirt and most of them also featured weaker racing than in the US.

In 1996, Dubai, flush with tons of oil money, shattered the monopoly. They created a dirt race worth $5 million. And immediately drew the best dirt horse in the world, Cigar, to run in it. And almost immediately, they became a MAJOR player, with horses shipping over every year and taking several months off from American racetracks to do it. The Dubai World Cup decimated the dirt handicap division, traditionally the strongest division in American racing.

Notably, Dubai has tried to do this in other sports too. But they haven't succeeded-- their tennis and golf tournaments are good, for instance, but they haven't displaced the majors. In horse racing, though, they completely succeeded.

And no race has been hurt more by this than the Santa Anita Handicap, the flagship race at Frank Stronach's flagship track.

The Santa Anita Handicap was itself the Dubai World Cup of the 1930's. It came around at a time when the eastern tracks had a monopoly on good dirt racing and controlled the handicap division. California, like Dubai in the 1990's, was just starting out (we legalized parimutuel betting in 1933, and Santa Anita opened on Christmas Day 1934). It offered an enormous purse, $100,000, which was something like four times the purse of the major handicap races in the East. And it drew all the eastern stars-- Equipoise, Twenty Grand, and Head Play ran in the inaugural running.

The Santa Anita Handicap even had its own Cigar which gave the race legitimacy-- Seabiscuit, who lost photo finishes (itself a new technology) in 1937 and 1938, was injured while his stablemate won in 1939, and then won the thing in 1940 in the last race of his career. Soon, everyone in American racing wanted to win the Santa Anita Handicap. Whirlaway was actually in training out here in December 1941 coming off his triple crown year, when Pearl Harbor was bombed and Santa Anita closed for the war. After the war, Calumet sent Derby winners Citation and Ponder out here to try to win the race, and for years, the Big Cap was the strongest race of the winter. A laundry list of Hall of Famers, from Round Table to Ack Ack to Affirmed to Spectacular Bid to John Henry to Alysheba, won the race.

The Santa Anita Handicap has been destroyed by Dubai. Since 1996, almost every year, horses who would have run in the Santa Anita Handicap have run in Dubai instead. The Pacific Classic, first run in the 1990's at Del Mar, has become the strongest handicap division race on the west coast. In the last couple of decades, only one Santa Anita Handicap has really lived up to the great races of the past-- 2014, where three top horses, for various reasons, were not shipped to Dubai, and we got a great race, won by Game on Dude over the winner and runner-up of the previous year's Breeders' Cup Classic in 1:58 flat, the second fastest 1 1/4 miles on dirt in racing history.

But we are unlikely to see another 2014 Big Cap again (or if we do, it won't happen for another 20 years or so).

Frank Stronach knows this. When he bought Santa Anita, the Big Cap was still a big deal. It produced either the biggest, second biggest, or third biggest live crowd of every season. It always drew 20,000 and sometimes drew 30,000. And it was still drawing some good horses. He has presided over the destruction of the Big Cap. And it was Dubai that killed it.

So what did Stronach do? I really, really, cannot express how much I love what he did. He created a race that used a complicated purse structure to reclaim the label "richest race in the world" from Dubai. And he put it earlier in the year so that he can get horses retiring to stud to run in his race, whereas they won't stick around and run in Dubai. He has created a bigger, better race than the Dubai World Cup, and holds it at one of his tracks. Here in America.

American racing needed this. We couldn't afford to have a middle eastern oil-rich sheikhdom steal the title of "biggest dirt race of the year". We needed to fight back. And for Stronach, it was also personal-- he needed to stand up to the people who ruined his big winter race.

He did just that.

Embrace the Pegasus. Despite the run-up, despite the distance, despite the timing problems, despite the dishonesty about the purse. Embrace it. It's great for American racing.

SkunkApe 01-26-2018 07:53 PM

That was a good read.

Well done.

cj 01-26-2018 08:34 PM

You have to log in at DRF, but you now get 30 free ones per month...just an FYI.

Redboard 01-26-2018 08:37 PM

To blame the decline of Santa Anita on Dubai is simplistic. Itís way more complicated than that. Competition is supposed to help the quality of a product, itís the American way. Why didnít Santa Anita raise their purses to compete with Dubai? We all know the answer to that.
Nice read though. I do like the Pegasus and will watch every race tomorrow. I just wonder how long Gulfstream can sustain losing money every year on the event.

dilanesp 01-26-2018 09:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Redboard (Post 2266791)
To blame the decline of Santa Anita on Dubai is simplistic. Itís way more complicated than that. Competition is supposed to help the quality of a product, itís the American way. Why didnít Santa Anita raise their purses to compete with Dubai? We all know the answer to that.
Nice read though. I do like the Pegasus and will watch every race tomorrow. I just wonder how long Gulfstream can sustain losing money every year on the event.

The answer to your question is that Dubai has so much money they were able to keep their purse above even the BC Classic, which has stallion subscription fees. There is no way the Big Cap could ever offer a competitive purse to Dubai.

You needed a new model- the Pegasus- to do it.

Tom 01-26-2018 09:31 PM

The Pegasus, more than Dubai will ensure the Big Cap never returns. Why not run when you get all that money for just showing up?

Just what racing needs, a miserable excuse of a race put on miserably. GP has run 10 furlong races before. There is no excuse for the flippant way GP runs its business. Timing races is not an added bonus.

The Pegasus is not doing anything for American racing - just a handful of stables.

It is a sham and a not a solution to anything. It is just Franky thinking only about Franky again. SA is in trouble because of its own stupid management and ownership. And frankly, who cares? SA is NOT the center for the racing world, no matter what Franky tells you. Those days are long gone, along with real race horses who could run in both the Big Cap and Dubai. This rewards those who are scared to race their horses.

thaskalos 01-26-2018 09:35 PM

And if the oil sheiks in Dubai decide to raise the purse of their marquee race to $20 million, is Gulfstream obligated to increase the purse of the Pegasus even higher...because "American racing needs this"?

cj 01-26-2018 09:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by thaskalos (Post 2266825)
And if the oil sheiks in Dubai decide to raise the purse of their marquee race to $20 million, is Gulfstream obligated to increase the purse of the Pegasus even higher...because "American racing needs this"?

If I were Frank I would make it a $125,000,000. Just sell the slots for $10,000,000 and guarantee every horse will get back $9,750,000. If you're going to make up a fake number might as well make it a good one.

Tom 01-26-2018 10:02 PM

Well, there goes my Kelco Class Calculator out the window!

VigorsTheGrey 01-26-2018 10:40 PM

I still think it is a SHAM that any entrant gets credited with $400,000 purse earnings on his career TOTALS just for running, no matter where they finish...that's a big deal from a potential breeding perspective and could catapult a mid-range earner to one that "earned" over 1 million in purses...PHONEY earnings INFLATION that an owner "pays for"...

ultracapper 01-26-2018 11:04 PM

Good read. Solid logic.

The Pegasus is a step in the right direction, applying your logic, but it is an imperfect product. Hopefully the Stronach Group continues with the effort, both with the "fight back" effort, and with the effort, commitment, and energy to find the right "weapon" to fight back with. I believe it's a hard argument to make that the Pegasus in it's present form is the solution.

What ever one may think about the man and the organization, they are heads above any other industry player in working to bring the game back to a standing in the American psyche.

dilanesp 01-26-2018 11:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cj (Post 2266840)
If I were Frank I would make it a $125,000,000. Just sell the slots for $10,000,000 and guarantee every horse will get back $9,750,000. If you're going to make up a fake number might as well make it a good one.

Right. And the point is to be able to claim that you are the richest, because that stops the inflationary spiral.

Dubai isn't going to keep raising the purse if they can never be the richest race and they can never get the horses going to stud like Stronach can. This is the beauty of this race.

ultracapper 01-26-2018 11:13 PM

As soon as you see Pegasus in the pps, you'll understand the horse's lifetime "money earned". Breeders know their side of the game. I don't think money earned in the Peg will fool them.

Out of curiosity, does anybody think that TSG would ever exercise the action of refusing an entry into the race? Just saying, "No, we aren't going to let you race that horse in here".

VigorsTheGrey 01-26-2018 11:51 PM

The Orientals can up the purses to ANY AMOUNT they want to...they have more oil money than...well, you know who...

cj 01-27-2018 12:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VigorsTheGrey (Post 2266909)
The Orientals can up the purses to ANY AMOUNT they want to...they have more oil money than...well, you know who...


Orientals? Huh?


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