HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -- City of Light won the $9 million Pegasus World Cup dirt race at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, running away from Breeders' Cup Classic champion Accelerate for an emphatic victory in the final race before retirement for both horses.
City of Light and Accelerate were neck-and-neck on the lead as the 12-horse field turned for home on a rain-soaked track and under a very dark, stormy sky. But Accelerate didn't fire, and City of Light under jockey Javier Castellano simply took off.
Seeking the Soul got up for second. Accelerate wound up third.
City of Light finished with six wins in 11 career starts, with earnings of just under $5.7 million.
"This horse is a gift," City of Light trainer Michael McCarthy said. "Amazing."
City of Light returned $5.80 for the win, $4.20 for place and $3 to show. Seeking the Soul, a 30-1 long shot, paid $19.20 and $8.20. Accelerate, the 3-2 favorite, paid $2.80.
"I think I rode the best horse in the race," Castellano said. "Thank God everything worked out."
Accelerate's retirement was postponed after the Breeders' Cup just for a chance to run in the Pegasus. Had Accelerate prevailed, he would have retired with career earnings of nearly $10 million and been ranked among the top 10 thoroughbred earners in North America.
"We've enjoyed him for three years," Accelerate trainer John Sadler said. "We ran a really good race today in tough conditions. ... And City of Light is a very good horse also."
Earlier Saturday, Bricks and Mortar won the inaugural running of the Pegasus World Cup Turf -- the richest grass race ever run in North America. Magic Wand was second, and Delta Prince took third.
It was the sixth win in eight career starts for Bricks and Mortar, who was ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr. and trained by Chad Brown -- the reigning Eclipse Award winners in the jockey and trainer category.
"I'm just so proud of this horse," Brown said of Bricks and Mortar.
Bricks and Mortar waited patiently to make his move over soft, spongy turf and returned $7.60, $4.20 and $3.20 to his backers. Magic Wand dueled with Bricks and Mortar over the final furlong but settled for second and paid $9 and $6.40, and Delta Prince paid $6.60.
"You don't win races like this every day," said William Lawrence, part of the ownership group of Bricks and Mortar.
That's because races like this happen only one day a year.
Pegasus Day -- it was one race on the dirt in the first two years, with a $12 million purse in 2017 and a $16 million purse last year -- still offered $16 million for this year's edition, only this time over two races. The Pegasus turf paid nearly $3 million to the winner, and the Pegasus dirt prize to the winner was $4 million.
And Pegasus Day has become an event, a social scene wrapped around a day of racing, which is exactly what Pegasus organizers envisioned. Celebrities such as Snoop Dogg, Evander Holyfield, Dennis Rodman and Mark Ronson were at Gulfstream Park, as were thousands of regular folks -- some of whom plunked down more than $100 just to get in and have the chance to bet and watch the show.