1/ST Appoints Jimmy Vargas As Chief Executive Officer, 1/ST Experience

Vargas will lead an integrated team of marketing, hospitality, partnership, venue and event management experts focused on attracting a new generation of fans to the sport of Thoroughbred horse racing while elevating the guest experience at 1/ST venues in California, Florida and Maryland. Vargas will report directly to Belinda Stronach, Chairman and President of 1/ST.

Under leadership from Vargas, the centralized team is tasked with redefining the guest experience through innovative content development across marketing and communications, by elevating national and local venue management and hospitality, while developing strategic partnerships, sponsorships and procurement opportunities. 1/ST EXPERIENCE, headquartered at Gulfstream Park, will continue creating year-round, vibrant entertainment experiences for 1/ST venues and signature platforms including, the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park in South Florida and the legendary Preakness Stakes and InfieldFest in Baltimore, Maryland. 

The integrated 1/ST EXPERIENCE team will also support the company’s 1/ST RACING, 1/ST CONTENT, 1/ST TECHNOLOGY and 1/ST PROPERTIES businesses with a focus on growth, analysis, vision, efficiency, synergy and consistency across the company’s vast portfolio of assets.

“Jimmy and the 1/ST EXPERIENCE team will be able to build out our business in new and exciting ways, not only by curating a more compelling entertainment offering with gambling at the core but by leveraging key relationships and brands in the lifestyle, sports, wagering, and entertainment space,” said Belinda Stronach, Chairman and President, 1/ST.

Since joining 1/ST in 2018 as Executive Vice President, Entertainment, Vargas spearheaded the company’s proprietary entertainment brands and marquee races, focusing on relationships, strategy and revenue while managing partnerships across the entertainment and hospitality space. Vargas reimagined the InfieldFest at Preakness, tapping talent like Post Malone, Odesza, 21 Savage, Kygo, Diplo, the late Juice Wrld, FISHER and Frank Walker, as well as spearheaded the inaugural Clubhouse Festival featuring Steve Aoki and Tyga at Laurel Park Racetrack. He also oversees the annual Pegasus World Cup production at Gulfstream Park that has featured A-list performers, Snoop Dogg, Nelly, T-Pain and Mark Ronson. The Pegasus World Cup has also become a celebrity fan favorite hosting Jennifer Lopez, Alex Rodriguez, Vin Diesel, Lenny Kravitz and Pharrell, to name just a few. 

In the early days of the pandemic, Vargas created the first full-scale safe and socially distant drive-in concert with DJ D-Nice at Gulfstream Park. The Drive-InFieldFest garnered worldwide media attention for recognizing 200 first responders who remained in their cars while they enjoyed the DJ set. Vargas is also responsible for bringing on collaborations and partnerships with Miami hotspots Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster, Groot Hospitality’s world-famous LIV Nightclub, Komodo and Swan, and brands like Pepsi, Baccarat, Tito’s Vodka and many others.

With over 25 years of hands-on experience across hospitality, venue operations and entertainment, Vargas is one of the entertainment industry’s top talents with decades of experience in the experiential, communications, broadcast, digital and marketing arenas. Before joining 1/ST, Vargas was Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Miami-based powerhouse Groot Hospitality.

1/ST EXPERIENCE will provide a national entertainment and content development ecosystem for our company as we continue to redefine sports-anchored entertainment,” said Jimmy Vargas, Chief Executive Officer, 1/ST EXPERIENCE. “I look forward to working with the 1/ST EXPERIENCE team to bring to life nimble and evolved venue, hospitality, and entertainment initiatives that will drive future positive growth for our company’s 1/ST RACING, 1/ST CONTENT, 1/ST TECHNOLOGY and 1/ST PROPERTIES businesses while elevating the guest experience to engage a younger audience in our sport and at our venues.”

For more information and a glimpse into 1/ST EXPERIENCE, please visit www.1st.com/experience.

About The Stronach Group and 1/ST
The Stronach Group is a world-class technology, entertainment and real estate development company with Thoroughbred horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering at the core.  The company’s consumer facing brand 1/ST (pronounced “First”) powers The Stronach Group’s forward-thinking 1/ST RACING, 1/ST CONTENT, 1/ST TECHNOLOGY, 1/ST EXPERIENCE, and 1/ST PROPERTIES businesses, while advocating for and driving the 1/ST HORSE CARE mission. 1/ST represents The Stronach Group’s continued movement toward redefining Thoroughbred horse racing and the ecosystem that drives it. 1/ST RACING drives the best-in-class horse racing operations at the company’s premier racetracks and training centers including: Santa Anita Park, Golden Gate Fields and San Luis Rey Downs (California); Gulfstream Park – home of the Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series, Gulfstream Park West and Palm Meadows Thoroughbred Training Center (Florida); the Maryland Jockey Club at Laurel Park, Pimlico Race Course – home of the legendary Preakness Stakes, Rosecroft Raceway and Bowie Training Center (Maryland). 1/ST CONTENT is the newly formed operating group for all of 1/ST’s media and content companies including: Monarch Content Management, Elite, GWS and XBTV. 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. 1/ST EXPERIENCE blends the worlds of sports, entertainment and hospitality through innovative content development, elevated national and local venue management and hospitality, strategic partnerships, sponsorships, and procurement development. 1/ST PROPERTIES is responsible for the development of the company’s live, work and play communities surrounding its racing venues including: The Village at Gulfstream Park (Florida) and Paddock Pointe (Maryland).  As the advocate for critical industry reforms and by making meaningful investments into aftercare programs for retired horses and jockeys, 1/ST HORSE CARE represents The Stronach Group’s commitment to achieving the highest level of horse and rider care and safety standards in Thoroughbred horse racing on and off the track. For more information, please visit www.1st.com.

Media Contact:
Tiffani Steer, Vice President, Communications, 1/ST, [email protected]  
Vanessa Menkes, Vanessa Menkes Communications, [email protected]


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