As Miami’s 2024 Pegasus World Cup drew to a close with a $3 million win by champion thoroughbred National Treasure and a DJ set by Calvin Harris, the post-race buzz was about how the event will spin off into a West Coast version at Santa Anita racetrack this fall. The California Crown, taking place Sept. 28, will be the first entertainment-driven thoroughbred racing event at the historic grounds with The h. wood Group and track-owner 1/ST partnering.
“You’ll see some things that are similar to what we do at Pegasus. We will bring together music, entertainment and fashion, but it’ll be more of a vintage Hollywood vibe,” says Belinda Stronach, chairwoman and CEO of 1/ST, a technology, entertainment and real estate development company centered around thoroughbred racing and pari-mutuel wagering. 1/ST also owns Miami’s Gulfstream track and Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, home of the Triple Crown’s Preakness Stakes.
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Built in 1934, Santa Anita currently doesn’t have a marquee day of racing. “Our plan is to grow it and, ultimately, we have a massive infield there, so it can really build into a California tradition,” says Stronach. “It’ll be at the end of the calendar year and provide that opportunity for the best three-year-olds to compete and go on to the Breeders Cup.”
Pegasus has been sparking up Miami’s winter social calendar since its 2017 debut. This year, Camila Cabello, Rick Ross, Isabela and David Grutman, Chrome Hearts’ Laurie Lynn Stark and beauty influencer Alix Earle attended the event, which attracts 10,000 spectators and is broadcast on NBC. The super VIPs hung out in the Flamingo Room and Private Luxury Suites with food from Groot Hospitality’s Gekkō, Komodo, Papi Steak, Swan and Casadonna. When it was time to watch the races from the rail, the Baccarat Garden served guests champagne from Baccarat Mille Nuits flutes. Also within the garden, a rose-gold Marie Coquine floor lamp, and a rose-gold thoroughbred horse sculpture with a Baccarat Solstice chandelier dangling from its mouth (valued at $85,000 with proceeds from the sale going to the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance), were on display.
As the races ended and the entertainment accelerated, the Carousel Club became the center of the party where Whispering Angel, Don Julio Rosado, Ketel One and Heineken Silver flowed. Merch collaborations ranged from Aviator Nation to Siegelman Stables and the most fashionable among Miami’s social set wore Suzy Buckley Woodward’s Shapoh Fancy Hats & Fascinators.
“Part of my mission has been how do we transform this legacy sport. Keep the traditions that people really love, but modernize the entire guest experience. What I love about Baccarat is that they have tradition, yet they’re not afraid to be innovative. So there’s a meeting of the minds there,” Stronach says. “We are a very forward thinking team within an industry that traditionally hasn’t been open to change. We’re pushing that change forward, we’re pushing the aspect of safety for riders and jockeys, making sure horses are respected and treated properly and modernizing the experience.”
The event set a record for $47 million in wagers via on-track betting with the 1/ST mobile app.
Up Next on Miami’s Social Calendar
It’s not pickleball, it’s not tennis, it’s padel. Known for his star-studded yearly Art Basel Miami Beach Party, Reserve Padel CEO Wayne Boich teams up with Miami Heat player (and padel enthusiast) Jimmy Butler to launch the Reserve Cup Presented by Richard Mille. From Feb. 8 to 10, more than a dozen top-ranked padel players will compete for three days at the Reserve Padel Miami Seaplane, located on an island of reclaimed land beneath the MacArthur Causeway. Butler and Derek Jeter, will serve as team captains during the tournament.
South Beach Wine & Food Festival, which brings together Food Network talent, musicians and 500-plus chefs for brunches and lunches, master classes, wine seminars and intimate dinners, returns to Miami Feb. 22 to 25 for its 23rd edition. This year’s tribute dinner honors Gucci Osteria’s Massimo Bottura and Campari chairman Luca Garavoglia, sponsored by Hexclad and hosted by Nadia The Pasta Queen. The evening will feature dishes from Alain Ducasse, Mauro Colagreco, Albert Adrià, Jordi Roca and more. Bottura’s Miami restaurant Torno Subito opens in February.
Event founder Lee Schrager shares that what started on the beach has branched out with moments happening all over the city from Overtown and Wynwood to Hallandale Beach and the Miami Design District.
“In Coconut Grove, Grove Bay Hospitality Group is putting on an incredible new event at The Hangar — Casa Noble Tequila presents a Sunset Feast featuring bites from Miami’s top chefs, tropical cocktails and waterfront views,” he says. “I’m also excited for the return of FoodieCon, which brings together digital content creators in the food and beverage community for cooking demos, panels and book signings.”
Between SOBEWFF and its sister NYCWFF, more than $51 million has been raised to benefit the Florida International University Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management.
Additional reporting by Melissa Gill.
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