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The Worlds Richest Horse Races
 By Winniefield Park   •   27th Jan 2018   •   790 views   •   0 comments


It’s been called the ‘sport of kings’ and high profile horse races have long been regarded as the place to ‘see and be seen’ by the rich and famous. So it always seems a bit ironic that most of the horses on the track are from small stables, run by dedicated but definitely not rich owners, trainers and others involved in the breeding, training and running of Thoroughbreds. The big dream is of course to have a horse that’s fast enough to make it to the really big races. Everyone is looking for the next Secretariat or Cigar to compete in races where there are no claimers and the purses are millions, not hundreds or thousands of dollars.

The Kentucky Derby is perhaps one of the most famous races. It’s known as the ‘run for the roses’ because winners are draped with a cascade of red roses over their shoulders. It’s also known as the "The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports" or "The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports", because that is approximately how long it takes for the horses to run the 1 ¼ mile (2.01 km). The entry fee is quite steep - about $50,000 USD plus jockey and other fees. The purse of almost 2 million dollars is distributed among the top five placing horses. The 2017 winner, Always Dreaming received just over half of the Derby purse, about 1.2 million USD. Fifth place Practical Joker took about $60,000.



As famous as the Derby is, however, it does not offer the largest purses. That distinction used to belong to the Dubai World Cup. But in 2017 the Pegasus World Cup displaced the Dubai World Cup as the world’s richest horse race. 2018 will be the second year the Pegasus World Cup will be run and contenders will compete on the 9 furlongs (1.8 km or 1.125 mi) dirt track. Twelve horse will run, and each owner will contribute one million dollars to the purse, with Stronach Group topping up the pot to make a 16 million dollar purse.

The Dubai World Cup comes in a close second to the Pegasus Cup, however. On March 31, the Dubai racing season ends with nine races called Dubai World Cup Night offering a total of $30 million (US). The main event is a race worth $10 million dollars. The very first Dubai World Cup was held in 1996 and won by the American owned horse, Cigar. The Dubai World Cup Night also offers Dubai Kahayla Classic, a race for purebred Arabian horses.

The Derby is Britain’s richest horse race, and one of the oldest. It was first run in 1780 making 2018 the 239th year it has been held. The track is located near Epsom and is one of the most prestigious races in the British racing season. The purses total £1.325 million or 2.5 million U.S. dollars. The Derby is also part of the English Triple Crown of horse racing, along with the one mile 2000 Guineas Stakes, The one and a half mile Derby, and the St. Leger Stakes run at 1 mile 6 furlongs and 127 yds.

There are of course several prestigious British races including the Royal Ascot, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, the Oakes and the 2000 Guineas. The Ascot, in particular, is known to be a prestigious event with members of the royal family present and spectators in formal ties, tails and designer fashions.

But the fact is that most Thoroughbreds will earn only a tiny percentage of these purses over their racing career. Most will earn less than $25,000 over their whole lifetime. A great number will earn nothing at all. Of the tens of thousands of Thoroughbred born to become racehorses any given year, only a few hundred will be nominated to a race like the Kentucky Derby. Of those perhaps 300 or so, vying for a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate, only 20 will be chosen to run. This is all after you’ve spent tens of thousands on breeding, training, maintenance and official fees. And you don’t just show up at these races. Your horse has to have raced, and possibly won many other races before even being eligible.
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