The Pegasus World Cup starts tomorrow and it will be the first major horse race of the year. This year, the Cup will have a $4 million purse, and will feature a socially distanced audience in Florida.
We spoke with Paul Williams, CEO of 1/ST TECHNOLGY about the plans for the event and how it is to organize a major sporting event during a pandemic.
What exactly is 1/ST TECHNOLOGY and 1/ST BET?
Williams. 1/ST TECHNOLOGY is horse racing’s largest racing and gaming technology company offering world-class products via its AmTote, Xpressbet, 1/ST BET, XB SELECT, XB NET, PariMAX, and Betmix brands. I lead the consolidation of 1/ST’s digital businesses to drive revenue for these brands, which are some of horse racing’s largest and most recognized racing and gaming brands.
The 1/ST BET app is so important to the industry because it’s changing the way people place bets on a horse race. 1/ST BET takes all of the important yet confusing information crucial to placing a bet and presents it in a way that is easy to decipher for even the most novice of sports bettors. Not to mention that 1/ST BET uses parimutuel odds rather than fixed odds, so the price isn’t finalized until the horses leave the gate. 1/ST BET is the only ADW in the US that completely integrates betting with handicapping.
The 1/ST BET app operates in 37 states across America, which is 25 more than mainstream sports today and provides users with immediate action (which is significantly different than most mainstream sports). 1/ST BET is working to remove the often high barrier of entry into the sport of horseracing by simplifying the experience and arming its users with as much data as possible to make their bets educated and successful.
Our readers are mainly sports betting fans that don’t know much about horse racing. Can you give us a quick overview of why Pegasus World Cup is an important event to follow?
Williams. The Pegasus World Cup, which boasts a $4 million purse this year, signifies the official kick-off of the 2021 racing calendar. Prior to the Pegasus World Cup’s first run in 2017, there were no major racing events of note until springtime. This specific race now sets the tone for the rest of the racing calendar.
The Pegasus World Cup has also had an impact on the overall industry. 1/ST, the company behind the Pegasus World Cup, ran last year’s Pegasus World Cup and Pegasus World Cup Turf without Lasix, which is a performance-enhancing drug that can negatively impact a horse’s health. The industry has followed suit, and all major stakes races in 2021 will now be Lasix-free. 1/ST has championed this approach as part of their overall goal to protect and improve the health and safety of its athletes (which in this case, are the horses).
How is this year different from previous years now that we are in the midst of a global pandemic? What can those who are planning to attend do to be safe during the event?
Williams. This year may look a bit different at the track itself, but the genuine excitement and competitive energy is all still the same.
We have implemented safety measures to ensure proper socially distancing is enforced for all attendees, and on-site attendance as a whole has been reduced to 20 percent. We have also installed thermal sensing cameras at all entrances to check guest temperatures, and we require all attendees to wear masks. New cleaning protocols are providing regular sanitizing of public spaces at the track, and cashless wagering via our 1/ST BET app eliminates the need for handling of cash.
We are thrilled to welcome fans back to the track, and are confident that our guests will be able to enjoy a day of world-class Thoroughbred racing excitement in a safe environment. But, we know there will be plenty of fans watching the race from home and placing bets through 1/ST BET, which of course is one of the most exciting parts of the sport.
You have put together a downloadable betting guide with Eddie Olczyk, Jeff Siegel, Jeremy Plonk and Johnny D. What was the background leading up to that and can you give us a teaser of its content?
Williams. It’s important to us at 1/ST Technology that our users are empowered with data – the more informed, the better. Unlike many other betting platforms, 1/ST BET makes the same amount whether our users win or lose. We want our users to win!
The 1/ST Pegasus World Cup Wager Guide provides exclusive artificial intelligence data and selections from the 1/ST BET app for every race Saturday at Gulfstream Park, as well as expert workout analysis of the key horses’ morning training. We have produced Wager Guides annually for events like the Pegasus World Cup, Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup for more than a decade and are an industry standard that horseplayers anxiously await.
Tell me about the betting championship. What are you expecting in terms of participation online and offline and what interesting odds are we looking at?
Williams. The Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship is one of the most sought after handicapping tournaments in North America. The tournament will attract more than 150 of the best horseplayers in the country — most of them playing online this year due to the pandemic — all vying for a prize pool of $300,000. Those contestants will bet approximately $1 million throughout the tournament.