The inaugural $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational will be held at Gulfstream Park on January 28, 2017.  In May, 2016, twelve places or slots in the starting gate were rapidly sold for $1 million each.  The purchasers were permitted to sell their slots or to fill them with a horse of their choice.  For example, one original purchaser, Coolmore Stud, sold its place to the owner of 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Arrogate and another slot owner, James McIngvale, bought a horse specifically to run in the race.

The Pegasus World Cup is the idea of Frank Stronach, an eminently successful Canadian entrepreneur both outride of the horse racing industry and within it.  His path from his native Austria to Canada is a legendary Horatio Alger rags-to-riches story.  Stronach owns Gulfstream Park and intends to run his Shaman Ghost in the Pegasus World Cup.

The Pegasus World Cup owners, as a group, are represented by entrepreneurs from diverse ventures, folks who are used to taking calculated risks and have experienced the emotional highs and lows of doing so.  The owners of 10 racehorses entered in the Pegasus World Cup are game to go even though California Chrome and Arrogate are the prohibitive favorites.

The Pegasus World Cup depicts “animal spirits” in action, an enduring term coined by famous economist and author John Maynard Keynes in a 1936 classic book to describe the human emotions that drive people to action, to buy goods and services, to start businesses, to take risks.  George Akerlof and Robert Shiller, Nobel laureates in economics, in 2009 published a widely acclaimed book on “animal spirits” that explained “how human psychology drives the economy.”

Animal spirits has “driven” the owners of 12 racehorses to put up $1 million each to see who has the best horse.  This intangible spirit is what has drawn people to horse racing since its inception.  When someone contemplates why a rational businessperson becomes a racehorse owner in spite of what a bad business investment it normally is—the answer is simple:  animal spirits are at work.

That is the allure of racing, from the leaky roof circuit to the Pegasus World Cup.

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