The inaugural $12-million Pegasus World Cup Invitational on Jan. 28 at Gulfstream Park created plenty of buzz with its unique set up, the rematch between California Chrome and Arrogate, the largest purse in the world, the Pegasus Win-Win Sweepstakes and branding initiatives calling racegoers to “be part of history.”
However, it wasn’t just the race or the sport itself benefitting from the big-time promotions but aftercare as well. The Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA) was one of three official charity partners for the Pegasus World Cup events, along with the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund and the After The Impact Fund for Veterans and Legends.
As a charity partner, TAA had its own presence on the day. The TAA presented a Best Turned Out Horse Award for the Pegasus day races, sponsored by StarLadies Racing. It was featured in a short commercial during the day’s simulcast. And, the TAA hosted a meeting of the champions between two-time Horse of the Year California Chrome and polo champion Nic Roldan, among other online and on-track promotions.
And a week before with the Eclipse Awards, the organization was the official aftercare partner of the awards program and was the recipient of a donation funded by the auction of a LUXAIR Jets travel package.
“The Pegasus and the Eclipse Awards were some of the best exposure the TAA has had,” said Stacie Clark, operations consultant for the TAA. “[The events] were a lot of work, but it was really rewarding to get the word out and get people interested in what we’re doing.
“There was a whole lot of buzz; it was a great event. Just being able to participate in big days is important for the TAA.”
Clark mentioned that although the TAA has done similar things in the past — especially with The Stronach Group tracks, in particular Pimlico Race Course during Preakness Stakes weekend and during the Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park — and have other events planned in the future, the energy surrounding Pegasus day was special.
“They are pretty good to us at The Stronach Group on Preakness weekend and we’ve got things going forward there. Ellis Park has done an aftercare day, Tampa Bay Downs is going to let us do one on Tampa Bay Derby day and we’ve done charity days at Saratoga,” she said. “Not the same magnitude, but it’s baby steps.”
Clark hopes the momentum will continue and that aftercare will have a presence at large race days in the future to help keep the Thoroughbred aftercare movement top of mind.
“I think there were so many good things that happened that week,” she said. “And it’s great to have aftercare a part of the big days.”