The Friday Show: Purse Inflation, Derby Chaos?

by | 04.14.2017 | 8:52am
Arrogate captured the inaugural $12 miilion Pegasus World Cup. The event will be worth even more next year.

In recent days we've learned the two richest races in horse racing plan to become even wealthier. The Pegasus World Cup has upped its purse to a whopping $16 million, and the Dubai World Cup could still top that with its desire to reclaim the title of world's richest race.

In this week's The Friday Show, Scott Jagow and Ray Paulick discuss the implications of these purse increases for the sport. Plus, the Road to the Kentucky Derby is nearing its end, and it appears we may have one of the most wide open fields in recent memory. Their take on the standings so far and picks for this weekend's Arkansas Derby.

Enjoy the latest edition of The Friday Show.


Prestige and Purses: As an owner, which of these races would you most like to win?

  • William McAlevy

    I’m going to bet Sonneteer. Classic Empire will not get idle trip. The one horse is the mystery horse. He should be on lead and shouldn’t quit like Uncontested which make stalkers chasing and leaving door open for closers. I like the last workout of Sonneteer and trainer.

  • David Worley

    And… Mine that Bird ran 4th in that year’s Sunland Derby. He only got into the Kentucky Derby because of his winnings from having run earlier (I think in Canada). I wish the movie would have been better, it was not very well done and I was disappointed.

    • William McAlevy

      Seabiscuit movie was outstanding. I highly recommend that movie to everyone. Let it ride reminds me of my old days at Hollywood Park

      • David Worley

        I agree, I like both of those movies.

  • Genellen

    All the money in the world won’t improve the performances of the horses running. All I can think of is how that money could better serve the needs of the sport — Thoroughbred aftercare, jockey and backstretch worker care, drug testing, etc.

    To the general public, racing is the Kentucky Derby. Period. Even after all these years, the Breeders’ Cup has little resonance with the public, and Arrogate’s performance in the Pegasus WC and Dubai WC went unmentioned in the NY area media outlets.

    But my local newspaper had a big headline about a Kentucky Derby luncheon being planned by some women’s club, and the proceeds are going to support a local equine therapy clinic that helps kids. Almost everyone has heard of the Kentucky Derby, even here in non-horsy Connecticut.

    Just curious as to how much media coverage appeared in the Gulfstream Park area before/after the Pegasus?

    As for this year’s Derby, it could be another 50-1 shot. The whole year has consisted of upsets, near upsets, and surprises: Cubs in the World Series, almost-Falcons in the Super Bowl, Trump in the election, even the Oscars had a surprise ending. We’ve been spoiled by the recent rash of championship performances by horses we could pretty much count on to deliver.

    • Curt Muth

      All of the above races are to 80% funded by owners, sponsors and breeders, and have a guarantied purse regardless of how much is bet on the race.
      You start to divert that money from theses races and owners and breeders will stop to enter their horses.

  • David Worley

    Also, Scott’s point about Conquest Mo Money is and astute handicapping observation and smart bettors should be watching how he does at Oaklawn tomorrow.

    CMM was not far off of a swift early pace and managed to dig in and stay in the stretch much better than you would anticipate. If he shows a good effort in the AR Derby one might want to consider both him and Hence (the horse that won the Sunland) as legit KYD contenders. Keep in mind Irap ran fourth in the Sunland before winning the Blue Grass Stakes (although I thought Gutierrez’s ride in the SD was not great, whereas Leparoux gave an outstanding one in the BGS).

    Hence is an interesting prospect. While he clearly showed talent in the Southwest he seemed to have really advanced in the Sunland and if he continues to improve through April he may be an excellent pick for the KY Derby. While he did run into a hot pace in the Sunland, that track tends to be speed favoring and running down the leaders is pretty difficult. To substantiate this point look at the difficulty Irap had in the stretch at Sunland versus him in the stretch at Keeneland (which I think is a very fair track). So, perhaps Hence’s performance is even more impressive than one would think especially if Conquest Mo Money confirms his talent in the AR Derby.

    I think the Sunland Derby is often overlooked as a derby predictor and it may play a significant role this year.

  • Rachel

    As far as the Pegasus goes, I’d sure hate to put up a million & then be the one to draw post 12 for that distance on that track.

    • Romanella

      Or post 16

    • Mr J

      Or 9,10,11. Thats why 9f races are a joke there. Should be 9.5 f min,10 f ideal,of course

  • smoof

    in 1930, a $100,000 purse would be over $1,400,000 million today.

    $6,000,000 in 1984 would be $14,300,000 today. $6,000,000 would be over $7,000,000 today. tiznow would have over $20,000,000 just from his two breeder’s cup wins.

    before the breeder’s cup horses had to earn 8 figures, but arrogate is not the richest horse ever. it’s true two gaudy races have let his paltry career rival a horse like citation, but in real money even his total haul will not be much greater than citations. had citation run today with the BCJ, BCC, WC, and pegasus, he would have earned overv$150,000,000.

    purses have actually been stagnant when you account for inflation. the 3 year old race purses actually do account slighlty for inflation, as do with the BCC, WC, and pegasus.

    it is deceitful to not take the real value of money into account when rating careers by total earnings. the true greats would still crush the modern hot horse flowers,
    arrogate’s haul from his tiny career would look like a joke beside citation’s, just as his total career will.

    • smoof

      sorry for the mistake about tiznow, 7×2 is 14 not 20–had a brain fart.

    • smoof

      sorry for sloppy syntax in paragraph comparing arrogate to citation. there should be a “not” between “it’s” and “true,” and the “much” shouldn’t be there at all…=(

      • Jack Frazier

        He is no Citation. He could be but he won’t. He will retire after the next Pegasus Cup.

        • the buzz23

          Jack – you sound like the old codger who just can’t get beyond how things change over time. No one would argue that Citation is one of the greatest thoroughbreds of all time. No one cares about earnings as a means to justifying greatness today if you’re paying attention. Clearly you love Citation, and who doesn’t who is a student of thoroughbred history !? Just don’t understand your need to make this point over and over again.

          • Jack Frazier

            I am, thanks for the compliment. If being one means that I don’t fall for the in and out Thoroughbreds who won’t carry weight, retire at three or four, pick their spots to race so they don’t get outrun or staying around until their five or six year old seasons when they finally mature, I am guilty. I only bring it up when someone starts proclaiming a horse of few starts to be the equal of Citation. You may call me whatever you wish but I have lived long enough to remember great horses both male and female and very few reach the level hung on the new ones.

          • the buzz23

            Jack I’m probably as old as you – have been going to the races for 52 years. As I’ve told you a few times it just doesn’t serve any real purpose to minimize today’s racing other than to make you seem like a sour puss. I actually believe much of your argument is rationale given that breeding over time has favored speed and in many ways diluted the overall health of the breed. But to question Arrogate’s greatness simply because of the size of his resume is narrow minded. I’ve seen the horse run in person twice. I compare him to Tiznow and Secretariat and to some extent Slew. They just have a presence that separates them from the rest.

  • Bill B.

    If Arrogate’s apparent very short career (only 4 races this year!) is an example of what these large purses might do, no they are not good for the sport. The best horses racing more often is what is good for the sport.

    • Mr J

      Thats a good way to look at it. On the other hand they may stay another year. Less races more years

  • Michael Castellano

    What’s needed is more big, but not super huge, purses, to encourage good horses to remain racing when they become older horses. Maybe some racing series of this nature. I’d rather see five 2 million dollar races than one 10 million dollar race. There has been weak older horse divisions with dirt racing for some time. Part of the problem is the high cost of insurance for a valuable horse. Then there’s the calculation of the huge sums that can be made breeding them. But one thing I’d like to know, will a horse retired to breeding at five really have less peak breeding seasons then one which retires at four?

  • Concerned Observer

    We need new definitions of two terms, Purse and Pot. The Pegasus had a Pot, like a poker game.
    The owners put in all the money into a pot and were playing against each other. On the other hand a “purse” is a share of the betting takeout based on the appeal of the race to the bettors (who fund racing). There is a huge difference. Large “pots” will appeal only to the wealthiest of owners. But, large “purses” will appeal to all owners.

    As Ray pointed out….the KY Derby is half Purse and half Pot.

  • Rideonruffian

    Personally, I would like the win the Kentucky Derby, because of the prestige and mythos behind it. The Belmont would be next, for the same reason and because of the race’s distance. The Classic is third for me.

  • Rideonruffian

    The sport needs more races with large purses for horses age 4+, to encourage staying (or trying to) in the game longer.

    • Mr J

      Or a bonus series like they had in the 90s,but thought out better

  • C Hogan

    I would like the triple crown races moved from three to four year olds.
    Horses would be better and last a lot longer.

  • Jack Frazier

    Racing pencil necked geeks are seeking to push those who actually support racing 100 percent out by appealing to the uber rich. Fine. It looks good to brag about big money races but other than the Pegasus, the money comes from taking out or lowering the purses on the lower end. If this continues field size will diminish more and the rest of the nation will look like California with too many four, five and six horse fields. In the short term they will see huge gambling on the big money races but over the long haul, as field sizes become smaller, their bottom line will also become smaller. They neglect the claimers, low level allowance horses and the small outfits to do this. They also believe bettor will continue to follow their gimmick betting formulas. Is this good for racing? Maybe on a few days out of the year but in the long run it is another nail in the coffin for racing.

  • Michael Keller

    Unfortunately, the desires of “fans” and “owners” often are not congruent, and fans tend to collapse what is “good for the sport” as some sort of mantra or mission that owners should be held to. This is a sport that I love, and a business that I love as well. However, I have always said — if fans continue to demand or expect owners to manage horses up to the expectations or demands of fans, then fans will continue to be very disappointed. Period.

    It is not exclusively on the shoulders of owners to “keep horses on the track” and race horses longer, more often, and so on. There are numerous obstacles to this, unfortunately. From the breeding industry to the veterinary/medication aspect, a lot has to happen to see change. Don’t expect an owner, who is managing their risk, their investment capital at risk, to race a horse because it’s good for the business, as opposed to taking the money when it’s offered to send the horse to stud. Unfortunate…but it’s business. That’s the economic model and reality of the current landscape that is in front of us.

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