Although in the Sport of Kings it shouldn’t surprise us, there is increasing rivalry among territories to have their race declare as the ‘richest race in the world’ these days and as such, prize money has increased dramatically at the top end of the sport.
In the modern era, we’d all gotten used to the Dubai World Cup being the world’s richest, though after much lobbying the Americans have finally managed to set up a race to beat it in the shape of the Pegasus. Here they are ranked:
1. Pegasus World Cup
Having taken immediate Grade One status since essentially replacing the established Donn Handicap, the first running of the Pegasus World Cup was held in January 2017 at Gulfstream Park in Florida.
A total purse of $12million (£8.9million) was offered and that may increase to $16million in 2018, the purse being achieved by the owners themselves ponying up $1million a piece to enter their horse. The race is run on dirt over 9 furlongs.
Similarly to American football teams announcing themselves as “world champions” or calling a rather exclusive baseball championship a “world series”, this particular World Cup will remain, because of its geography and the time of year it is run, largely a North American affair and so it may be the richest race for a while, it won’t be the most respected.
There is a slight anomaly too in that the money in the purse comes from those taking part anyway, whereas in other rich races the track, racing authority and sponsors put up the bulk of the prize money.
2. Dubai World Cup
Held annually since 1996, firstly at Nad Al Sheba and now at Meydan Racecourse, the Dubai World Cup meeting takes place on the last Saturday in March.
The big race itself has carried a purse of $10million (£7.4million) since 2010 and was easily the world’s richest race until 2017 and the inaugural running of the Pegasus at Gulfstream. The race attracts runners from Europe, USA and the southern hemisphere and is run over 10 furlongs.
It took until 2006 for the race to be broadcast on national TV in the USA when the TVG Network took the rights.
3. The Everest
Another new one for 2017, the Everest was introduced in Australia as a new 6-furlong sprint which as yet cannot even be eligible for Group race status.
The race is run at Randwick and has a strange entre fee structure, similar to that of the Pegasus World Cup in that 12 places in the race are sold, this time for $600,000 each.
The slot holder this time though then has the right to sell or lease their place in the race if they don’t wish to run.
Prize money sits at $10million and the race is run during the Sydney Spring Carnival.
4. Breeders’ Cup Classic
The biggest race in America for the second half of the year, the Classic finishes off a massive weekend of racing during the Breeders’ Cup festival with this one contested over 10 furlongs on the dirt.
As is always the case with the Breeders’ Cup, the race moves around every year and is run either in late October or early November.
Despite the Classic being considered by experts to be the best race of the year in the States, the Kentucky Derby (three-year-olds only) is still more famous among casual watchers. It has a purse currently of $6million (£4.4million).
5. Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
Forget the money; this race is considered by most experts to be the premier thoroughbred race in the world.
Run traditionally at Longchamp but recently at Chantilly over 1½ miles, the race often brings together the top three-year-old horses of the year, often Derby or Oaks winners, with the best older middle-distance horses from Europe and beyond.
The guaranteed €5million (£4.4million) purse is at least fitting considering the level of horses which turn up and, unlike in some of the top four races here, they turn up in their droves to contest a race which is as much about its history as its prize money.
Don;t be confused if you see it called the Qatar Prix de ‘arc de Triomphe, this is a sponsorship deal and not the location of the race.
6. Dubai Turf
Formerly known as the Dubai Duty Free from 1996 to 2014, the Dubai Turf gained Group 1 status in 2002 and is part of the famed Dubai World Cup night each March.
Run over 9 furlongs, the race attracts some top milers and middle distance types and carries a purse of $5million (£3.7million).
6= Dubai Sheema Classic
Another Dubai World Cup night race, this time over the mile-and-a-half trip and one that attracts some very classy individuals, especially those who prefer the turf to the dirt surface of the World Cup itself.
The race, just like the Dubai Turf over the shorter trip, is worth $5million (£3.7million).
8. Melbourne Cup
Australia’s most prestigious race, known as “the race that stops a nation”.
Easily the richest staying race in the world, trainers such as Dermot Weld who are experts at training long distance types were among the first to come from Europe and attempt to farm the huge prize money.
The race takes place at Flemington Racecourse on the first Tuesday each November and attracts a large, high quality international field in a handicap format which makes the race even more competitive.
Even though the Melbourne Cup is a flat race, it is essentially the Australian equivalent of the Grand National in England and is worth AUS$6.2million (£3.5million).
9. Tokyo Yushun
Also known as the Japanese Derby, the equivalent of the Epsom Derby in England and run over the same 1½ mile trip.
The race has been on the go since 1932 and is the second leg of the Japanese Triple Crown, sandwiched by the Satsuki Sho (similar to the 2000 Guineas) and the Kikuka Sho (St Leger).
The race is worth 432,000,000 Yen but don’t get too excited, that’s a mere £2.8million.
It’s hardly worth getting out of bed for really, though if you do you’ll need to head to the Tokyo Racecourse at Fuchu.
10. Breeders’ Cup Turf
A race popular with European raiders given its 1½ mile trip and being run on the grass, the Turf precedes the Classic on Breeders’ Cup Saturday and is worth $3million (£2.2million).
The Breeders’ Cup format means the race moves around every year and has been hosted by those various tracks since 1984.