The stratum of horse racing purses has come a long way in 100 years. Entrepreneurial spirit and promotional creativity for making horse racing an elite festival shine much more today than in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.
All horse races, regardless of size, have rewards in the form of purses: meaning the amount of money owners are paid out after the race, depending on where their horse places. The higher the horse finishes, the bigger the purse is.
Typically, a first placed horse gets 60% of the total purse, second place gets 20%, third and fourth places earn 10% and 5% respectively. The remainder of the purse is split amongst the remaining horses.
Here we’ve listed down some of the most lucrative events in the global horse racing calendar:
The Dubai World Cup – $10m prize money
First held in 1996, the Dubai World Cup is an annual race held at the Meydan Racecourse in Dubai and is the richest race in the world in terms of purse size, offering a whopping $10 million as the first prize. The race is just one of many held during the Dubai World Cup Night event which hold a combined purse of $27.25 million which makes it the largest and most exciting night of racing in the world.
Melbourne Cup – $5.65 Million Purse
The Melbourne Cup is the richest turf race in the world, albeit only the second richest race overall. The race first ran back in 1861 at a distance of two miles (3.2km). This handicap race features three-year-old thoroughbreds and a purse of AUS $7.15-million (Dh20.8-millon). Also known as the Race That Stops a Nation, it is Australia’s top race and one of the biggest in the world, worth an incredible $5.65 million today.
Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – $5.4 Million Purse
Europe’s most prestigious race is a highlight in the French racing calendar and has been going for more than 150 years. Held at the Longchamp Racecourse in Paris, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is a 1 ½-mile race held nearly every year since 1920. The $5.4 million purse doubled from its former $2.7 million prize thanks to the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club’s sponsorship of the race.
Breeders Cup Classic – $5 Million Purse
Held in various places across North America, The Breeders Cup Classic is the top race in the Breeders Cup series. This prestigious meeting – like the others – began in 1984 and travels around North America annually. The Classic has limited entries as five of the fourteen slots are guaranteed to the winners of other races like the Jockey Club Gold Cup, The Pacific Classic and Awesome Again Stakes. For those who earn entry into the race, a $5 million purse is up for grabs.
Dubai Duty Free Stakes – $5 Million Purse
The Duty Free Stakes race is held annually in March at the Dubai World Cup Night at the Meydan Racecourse in Dubai. Though the name of the race may sound misleading – it doesn’t offer duty or tax free winnings to the horses – it is named for its sponsor Dubai Duty Free, a retail company that has duty free shops in various airports in the Middle East. This race comes with a very respectable $5 million purse.
Breeders Cup Turf – $3 Million Purse
Another annual race at the Breeders Cup series, the Breeders Cup Turf race is different than the traditional dirt track races, as it runs on a turf surface – similar to the grass that is found inside a typical track. The 1 ½ mile race is run prior to the main event, the Breeders Cup Classic, and offers a $3 million purse.
Breeders Cup Distaff – $2 Million Purse
Formerly called the Breeders Cup Ladies’ Classic, the Breeders Cup Distaff is for fillies and mares at least three years of age, and is the last race taking place on the first day of the Breeders Cup events. The race is the most prominent among female horses, and offers a purse of $2 million, which doubled from its original value of $1 million in 2005.
Breeders Cup Sprint – $2 Million Purse
The Breeders Cup is a short, six-furlong race, known as a sprint race – typically under a mile in length – that takes place during the Breeders Cup World Championships in North America Annually. The race takes just over a minute for the horses to complete and offers a $2 million purse.
Kentucky Derby – $2 Million Purse
Known as the “quickest two minutes in sport”, the USA’s Kentucky Derby is held annually in the first week of May. A Grade 1 stakes race for three-year-old thoroughbreds, the race first ran in 1875. The race is 1 ¼-mile and is the first leg of the Triple Crown in America. It’s the most prestigious race of a $2 million purse, with Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes both offering purses of $1 million each.
The Grand National – $1.6 Million Purse
Running since 1839, The Grand National steeplechase race at Liverpool’s Aintree Racecourse runs four miles and three furlongs in length, taking about ten minutes for some horses to complete. The course is long, challenging and involves hurdles, but the $1.6 million purse is definitely worth racing for.