Horse racing fans always have something to get excited about. In an equine world that’s hard to impress, the Pegasus World Cup, America’s richest horse race, is turning the gaming, horse racing and sports entertainment sector on its head. And it will once again take the horse racing world by storm when it hits Gulfstream Park on January 25.
Taking place in Hallandale Beach, FL, near Fort Lauderdale, the Pegasus World Cup is not only a high brow race with an enormous purse, but it’s also elevated by Gulfstream’s overall design, track venues and branding concept, which help “modernize the sport to engage a new generation of fans,” says Belinda Stronach, chairman and president of the Stronach Group, which oversees Gulfstream Park.
If you’re running short on trip-planning time, check out PegasusWorldCup.com. The site’s map provides some great information on the places you should be experiencing in the area. And for in-depth info on racetrack venues, go to GulfstreamPark.com. With more than 20 eateries, bars and night clubs, there’s something for every mood and dress code. Strike 10 Bowling and Sports Lounge, Mijana Lebanese Cuisine, Texas De Brazil Steakhouse and Tito’s Bar all caught my eye for varying, exciting reasons. Off-track, Fort Lauderdale’s scene is centered around the fabled and beautiful Las Olas Boulevard. If you’re in the “I need food now” stage and want to bypass the time-consuming sit-down commitment, then go straight to Bo’s Pub for the Reuben Egg Rolls with Russian Sauce or massive Shepherd’s Pie. You can also opt to traipse upstairs to The Balcony for a more festive—and tasty!—sit-down meal. AIK Taco Masala’s Indian-inspired taco shop is gaining cult-status for its flavorful fare. For East-meets-South, Casa Sensei has raised the bar with Lobster Guacamole, a Casa Ceviche Roll and Crispy Duck Noodle Soup. It even offers sushi-making classes if you’re up for a little twist on dinner.
So, we’ve got to stay somewhere great, right? Parking during the Pegasus ranges from $20-$60 per day, so Über or taxi may be a more reasonable choice and could sway your check-in decision. Staying next door to the track isn’t necessary, however. For those who’d like to jaunt down to Miami Beach’s South Beach (about 25 minutes southward) for sand between your toes or a world-class spa and gym, then I’d recommend HYDE Resort & Residences, a Preferred Hotels & Resorts destination boasting Four-Diamond-Award notability and its luxurious eména spa with a hair salon. Or, there’s always the OG luxe madam, Turnberry Isle Hotel and Resort. I’ve stayed at the latter (huge, plush rooms), and their áme spa is modern and stunning (try the heat-infused massage on a bed of crushed amethyst crystal), as is Turnberry Isle’s famed steakhouse, Bourbon Steak, situated in the lobby. If you love to play golf, then you’ve also found your spot! I had a terrific golf training day with the talented pro Ray Boone (who actually taught Princess Diana to golf). Boone’s an amazing instructor representing an amazing resort.
In the same rarified experience is Hilton’s Curio Collection, presenting a highly-coveted new starlet on the beach and possibly my first choice, The Diplomat, a full-on Four-Diamond AAA resort. The Diplomat Spa is ahhhh!, its Monkitail restaurant is getting serious national foodie buzz and the stunning beachside pool is next-to-impossible to leave. A luxe gym and Kids’ Club could seal the deal. DUNE, the restaurant at Auberge Beach Residences & Spa will leave you wanting more, and is nothing short of deliriously over-the-top perfection with its oceanfront boutique-chic spread across spacious towers of memorable design.
Time to shop! Let’s go to one of the largest high-end retail emporiums in the country, Aventura Mall, or, if your wallet prefers the more elevated palette of Rodeo Drive, then Bal Harbour Shops is for you. Get yourself something extra special for the racetrack, as the winning purse of Pegasus alone justifies that your sartorial glam meter be all the way up. Couture in Florida? You gotta love horse racing!