In horse racing, the rich tend to get richer. Prize funds are growing, and in a select handful of uber-rich races the pot can be eye-popping.
In 2020, the Saudi Cup will boast the highest prize money in the world with a bounty of $20 million.
Simply put, the sport of kings can yield a king’s ransom.
Here is a look at some of the richest events on the horse racing calendar.
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Just when you thought prize money in horse racing couldn’t get any more lucrative, the Saudi Cup has come along.
Announced by Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al Faisal, the race will have a $20 million pot and will be run at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh in February 2020.
The winning horse will win a staggering $10 million, with horses down to 10th place earning a diminishing share of the remaining$10M.
The race will be held over nine furlongs (1800 meters) on dirt and will include a maximum field of 14 starters.
In an already packed racing schedule, the new race slots in between the Pegasus World Cup and the Dubai World Cup at Meydan, giving horses and riders the opportunity to compete in all three of the most valuable dirt races in the world.
The race will be free to enter and free to run in, and the Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia have agreed to arrange and fund the shipment of all invited horses.
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Pegasus World Cup
Introduced in 2017 as the richest race on the planet , the Pegasus World Cup is the epitome of American lavishness. The nine-furlong (1⅛ miles ) race is run over a dirt track at Gulfstream Park, Florida and is intended as a showdown for experienced racers of four years old or above.
For its second running in 2018, the prize pot was boosted by $4 million to $16 million with an entry fee for each of the 12 slots of $1 million. The organizer added the rest.
The winner, Gun Runner, collected an astonishing $7 million in 2018.
However, for 2019 the prize pot was split across two Grade 1 races – the Pegasus World Cup Invitational and the new Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational over 1 3/16 miles.
The revamped Pegasus World Cup Invitational commands a prize fund of $9 million with $4 million going to the winner, while the turf race offers a pot of $7 million with the winner bagging $3 million.
Entry to each race costs $500,000 with an owner scooping a bonus $1 million if they win both events.
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The Dubai World Cup
Held at the Meydan Racecourse, United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Grade 1 race has been run every year since 1996, marking the end of the UAE racing season.
The prize fund has been boosted to $12M and the winner of the 2019 edition will take home an eye-watering $7.2 million.
Godolphin, the racing stable of Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has particularly enjoyed the event. It celebrated its record seventh victory in 2018 as Thunder Snow, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, set a new dirt-track record.
Run over mile-and-a-quarter (10 furlongs), the race invites four-year-olds or above from the Northern Hemisphere and three-year-olds or above from the Southern Hemisphere.
Dubai World Cup 2018
Australia hosts the world’s richest race on turf.
Run over six furlongs, The Everest brings the world’s top sprinters together at Royal Randwick, Sydney. It’s only been in existence for two years but has already surpassed the Melbourne Cup as the country’s richest race.
There’s only been one winner of the race since its inauguration in 2017, with Redzel clinching back-to-back titles.
There are 12 places up for grabs, each costing the owners about $400,000, but the payoff can be huge. Race organizers hiked up the prize money in 2018 with the winner swiping $4.5 million.
The Everest’s prize pot is set to rise to $10 million in 2019 and higher again in 2020.
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The Breeders’ Cup Classic
Back to the United States for another giant in the world of sprint racing. The Breeders’ Cup Classic attracts the best thoroughbreds, with the winner being treated to just over half of the $6 million prize pot.
Restricted to three-year-olds or above, the race is considered the unofficial fourth leg of the prestigious Triple Crown and is often a big factor in deciding Horse of the Year.
The mile-and-a-quarter event run on dirt has been in existence since 1984, and the latest edition was won by the aptly named Accelerate.
Uniquely, the race is held at a different location each year and has only once been hosted outside of the USA – the 1996 edition was held in Ontario, Canada.
Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
The glitz and glamor of the European racing world unite once a year for the continent’s richest horse race.
The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is a mile-and-a-half test of speed and stamina for three-year-olds and above, with the winner earning $3.2 million out of a fund of $5.6M.
After a $145 million facelift, Paris’ Longchamp Racecourse once again hosts the iconic race after a two-year residency at Chantilly.
The “Arc” has been held at leafy Longchamp for more than 150 years and brings in the very best Europe has to offer.
Legendary jockey Frankie Dettori holds the record for most race wins, securing his sixth on defending champion Enable in 2018. The pair are set to return to attempt a “three-peat” in 2019.
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Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe: Europe's richest race returns to Longchamp
Japan’s richest race is held every year at Tokyo Racecourse, with the world’s best three-year-olds and above descending on the country’s capital.
It’s an invitational contest, limited to 18 places, offering participants a share of the $5.8 million prize pot.
The mile-and-a-half race began in 1981 and has been run every year since.
Home-grown talent has flourished at the event, with every winning trainer and owner coming from Japan since 2008.
Almond Eye is the reigning champion, clinching $2.7 million in the process.
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The Melbourne Cup had long been the richest race in Australia before being overtaken by The Everest. The prize pot still sits at about $5.3 million with this year’s winner collecting $2.8 million.
The Breeders’ Cup Turf is the US showpiece for turf horses, carrying a prize fund of $4 million with winning connections earning $2.2 million.
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The Kentucky Derby is one of the world’s most iconic races, held every May at Churchill Downs, Kentucky. The mile-and-a-quarter dash on dirt, dubbed “the most exciting two minutes in sports,” carries a first prize of $1.425 million.
The Epsom Derby has long been regarded as the richest and most prestigious flat race in the British racing calendar. Run over a mile-and-a-half, it carries a prize fund of at least $1.9 million, with the winner claiming just north of $1 million.