NYRA Increases Belmont Stakes Purse to $1.5 Million

by | 12.28.2013 | 11:47am

The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) announced today that the purse for the 146th running of the Belmont Stakes, the third jewel of thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown to be run on June 7, 2014, will be $1.5 million. The Belmont had previously offered a purse of $1 million since 1998.

The other two races that comprise the Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands and the Preakness Stakes, currently offer purses of $2 million and $1.5 million, respectively. Earlier this month, Maryland Jockey Club officials announced that the Preakness purse would be raised $500,000 from the $1 million that had been offered since 1998.

“This Belmont Stakes is the main attraction of the biggest day of the year at Belmont Park, and we feel this increase suitably reflects the race's status as one of the sport's prestigious Triple Crown events,” said Martin Panza, Senior Vice President of Racing Operations for NYRA. “I am grateful to Steven Duncker, Bobby Flay, Barry Ostrager, Leonard Riggio and Rick Violette of the NYRA Racing Committee for their help and cooperation in making this increase possible.”

The purse for the 2014 Belmont Stakes will be divided amongst the first eight finishers with $800,000 to the winner, $280,000 to second, $150,000 to third, $100,000 to fourth, $60,000 to fifth, $45,000 to sixth, $35,000 to seventh, and $30,000 to eighth. In recent years, the Belmont Stakes purse had been shared amongst the first five finishers on a 60-20-11-6-3 percent basis.

“Belmont Stakes runners represent the very best of their respective foal crops,” said NYRA Stakes Coordinator Andrew Byrnes. “This purse increase helps ensure the fullest, most competitive field possible, and even an owner whose horse finishes eighth can earn good purse money for his or her commitment.”

  • Grazyna Mianska

    Not enough! Should be $3 Million.

  • Tinky

    This move truly boggles the mind.

    Let’s break it down into its simple components. Is there anyone, anywhere, who imagines that a serious contender to win the Belmont would not enter because a $1m purse is insufficient incentive? That’s a rhetorical question, of course, as it is ludicrous to imagine anything of the sort.

    By process of elimination, then, coupled with the Byrnes quote in the post, the only possible reason to increase the purse is in hopes of attracting bigger fields. Note that I said bigger, which, in this case, is very different than “more competitive”. Now, even if – and it’s a BIG if – NYRA is able to attract some sad saps who choose to run their ordinary three-year-olds in hopes of collecting $35k for finishing a never-threatening seventh, beaten 100 lengths, what does this really do for the race?

    I’ll tell you what it does: it degrades it. NYRA is behaving as if it is the featured overnight stakes on a meaningless Thursday card, and calculating that a few extra runners will increase the bottom-line. In my view, that is an embarrassing template to apply to a storied American Classic race.

    The other reason that I consider it be such a questionable move is because that $500,000 could be used to enhance the purses of stakes that actually ARE underfunded. In other words, bumping a $200,000 race to $300k or $350k might actually attract some serious, out of town competitors, unlike the proposed move which will not attract a single serious, extra competitor.

    As a final, highly related note, I’d be willing to bet that very few, if any of those involved in the decision-making process that led to this would recall the 1980 Woodward Stakes. It was won by Spectacular Bid in a WALKOVER. Not only did the vast majority of horsemen choose voluntarily not to run, but NYRA discouraged the entering of no-hopers, recognizing how the event would have been degraded.

    • Concerned Observer

      I agree, If the Belmont generates enough handle to cover the purse, the rest should be used to supplement the rest of the card. It sure works the other way, and all too often.

    • Craig Brogden

      You are a Liberal redistributionist at their worst.

      This race day generates at least $7-10 million in purses for NYRA from parimutuel handle not even accounting for other revenue streams to NYRA. The purse for the Belmont and the other tripple crown races should be in the $3-5 million range. It is pathetic that the purse structure for the elite horses is so low in North American while rewarding Claimer’s, Allownace and MSW horses with such obscene purses.

      The amount of money the the KY Derby contributes to the purse account is easily double that before all other revenue streams are even accounted for. Why dosen’t the purse account and horsemen benefit from merchandise, alcohol, ticketing, sponsors and food services etc. The race only exists becaure of the owners and horses. (redistribution).

      The benefit that the connections of 3yo colts that compete in the tripple crown races is greater than any other group of horses combined. These owners should be rewarded and given incentives to continue to compete and promote the sport of Horse racing

      • Randyp

        Unfortunately the race does not come close to generating that type of purse money so it is hard to follow your logic.

        • Craig Brogden

          Race day generates
          $80-90 million handle that day with typical takeout rates and distributions would be in the $7-10 million range for the purse account that DAY before any other revenue streams accounted for.

      • Tinky

        What a silly straw man response. Please do elaborate on how the additional $500k in purse will increase the day’s handle in any meaningful way.

      • Concerned Observer

        Craig, The graded stakes race model in this nation is broken. The bettors are not betting enough money on most of the graded races to even pay the purse, let alone the track share. The dogs (bettors) are not eating the dogfood (stakes races). Check the facts on Dec. 26,2013 Santa Anita. The stakes portion of the sport is being paid for by the lowly claiming and allowance races.

        I would like to know how the 3 TC events will improved by bigger purses. Better horses?, Better Jockeys? Better tracks?. Better time slot? Give me one single reason?

        So How can racing in general benefit from larger TC purses? The triple crown is quite healthy, while racing in general is in decline. So how will bigger TC purses help?

        Will the larger purses have an impact on any tracks other than the TC 3 ? .

        So racing in general will continue muddle along as is, with no lift from the TC?

        YOU said: “It is pathetic that the purse structure for the elite horses is so low in North American while rewarding Claimer’s, Allownace and MSW horses” with such obscene purses.”

        Thousands of owners bet big bucks trying to get, own, breed a TC winner, but you suggest that only a very few (5 to 10)should get the lions share of the financial rewards?
        I don’t think you really understand the reality of how the sport keeps grinding on the other 362 days of the year..

    • Randyp

      Most big races are at least 2% to enter and run so a 1.5 million dollar race costs an owner $30,000 to enter, maybe another $10,000 in shipping, another $15,000 in airlines tickets, hotels cars etc. Total $55,000 Running 6th,7th or 8th nag getting some money back is better thatn getting zip! In Tinky’s world good horse never finish out of the money and I guess shame on rich stupid owners for running worse than fourth.

      • Tinky

        Actually, high entry fees serve the useful purpose of discouraging frivolous entries.

        Having taken a look at the 2012 conditions, it would have cost a touch over $20k to start, barring a late nomination. So, at the previous purse of $1m, there was a profit to be made through the first five placings. Furthermore, since when should sixth, seventh or eighth places be emphasized in ANY races?

        For the record, I have owned horses, and currently do as well.

        • Craig Brogden

          Owners should not have to fund the purse account when they have already contributed enormous sums of money to compete at the top level of racing.

  • harry

    Welcome Martin Panza a breath of fresh air for NYRA. A job well done from somebody in racing who understands our game and needs. He will be an asset to NYRA.

    • Tinky

      “A job well done…”

      Yeah, I mean what could possibly have been more important than to attract a couple of rank outsiders to the Belmont that might not have entered had the seventh and eighth-place purse awards not been increased?

      • RayPaulick

        Preakness upped its purse to $1.5 million, Kentucky Derby purse is $2 million. Are you saying that the New York Racing Association should offer the lowest purse of the Triple Crown?

        C’mon man, this is New York!

        I’m sure this was done in reaction to the Preakness raising its purse. Aren’t there more important things for you to address in NY racing?

        • Tinky

          That’s a rather peculiar argument to make, Ray. In what possible way would NYRA or the Belmont Stakes have suffered were the purse to have remained at $1m?

          Most importantly, if money grew on trees, then I wouldn’t have made a peep. But the fact remains that quite a few NRYA stakes are underfunded, and it would actually be possible (in contrast to the Belmont) to attract better fields with a bump in purses. Therefore, I find it odd that you (or anyone) would consider this to be the best use of limited funds.

          • RayPaulick

            Wasn’t saying it was best use of funds, only explaining what I think led to the decision.

            One of the real problems with purses in New York is that they’ve set it up so that you can claim a horse, drop him in class next start and “get out” on the horse. That’s not how the game is meant to be played, but the leading trainer is doing quite well playing that way.

          • Tinky

            Thanks, and agreed. And don’t get me started on the inflated NY-bred purses…

          • Hoops and Horses

            In that regard, what is needed is to complete cap claiming purses to where for sprint races the winner share is no more than 80% of the claiming price and for routes it’s no more than the claiming price, and the optional claiming tags must reflect this if they are used for allowance races. That would force the claiming prices upward. plus more money would be put into allowance races as a rule, including perhaps helping see the return of the classified allowance race that seemingly doesn’t exist anymore.

          • Craig Brogden

            “That’s a rather peculiar argument to make, Ray. In what possible way would NYRA or the Belmont Stakes have suffered were the purse to have remained at $1m?”
            Because having the elite horses run for inferior purses is Liberal Redistribution at its worst.
            The purse shoud be in the $3 million range to reward the owners who are responsible for promoting the sport.

  • fb0252

    My take would be that traditionally competitive Derby/Preakness horses drop out of the Belmont making the Belmont a less attractive TV race. Part of this results because modern “trainers” fail to see that racing makes their horses stronger instead of weaker. The way they handle and train their horses, after two tough TC races they perceive their poor steeds need two months to recover, whereas if you asked the horses, they’d be ready to go again the next day. So, if indeed a higher purse would keep the horses of these neer do wells in the Belmont, hopefully we’d have a more attractive TC. As to the rest of TB purse structure, let the purse debates begin, and let’s under fund everything else so that these ridiculous purse levels can be maintained.

    • Saratoga Horse Fan

      Good points; we’ve been hearing about durability of bloodlines, fashionable early speed horses, and medications. They all seem to interconnect. And how many 3 year olds push it at the Derby, and that is their personal best.

      Re the TC itself, it’s been mentioned it’s not really a series. In what Olympic pentathlon event do athletes get to cherry pick the events they want, or just show up at the last one fresh and ready to compete against competitors who did them all.

      • fb0252

        txs, we saw it at the 2008 Derby with 8belles what happens when inappropriately prepared horses push it at the Derby,( and rarely was a horse less prepared than that one.) That might have been a training wake up call since in the 2013 TC horses are more adequately prepared for the TC. The days of Barbaro type non-racing and non-training, hopefully behind us. Re ur points, my opinion is that our breeders are breeding superior horses these days, and that training has improved. Did we see more TC horses at Belmont in 2013 than in prior years?

  • Tinky

    Here’s another useful way to get to the heart of the issue. If NYRA were to have polled every single owner and trainer in the U.S., and posed the following multiple choice question:

    We are going to add $500k to the upcoming year’s stakes schedule. Which of the following would you you prefer?

    a) the Belmont Stakes purse be raised by $500k

    b) two or three new stakes be created with the $500k split amongst them

    c) the purses of between two and five Grade II or III races be raised

    answer “a” would have received ZERO votes. That’s right, I don’t believe that there is a single major stakeholder in the game who would have made the same wasteful choice as NYRA when there are clearly better uses available.

    The further irony is that gamblers would have also benefitted from a more judicious application of funds.

    • Craig Brogden

      You are polling trainers who would love 3 horse fields.
      Why dont you poll the fans, gamblers and owners of 3yo’s.
      Gamblers love to bet on these big tripple crown races, the bigger the better for them with pool size being the favorite place for the whales to participate.

      • Tinky

        Hilarious! You somehow imagine that because there MAY be an extra couple of rank outsiders in the field, gamblers will be delighted?

        Given the betting opportunities available on Belmont day, the notion that two extra runners to use in the “D” line of a Superfecta grid in the Belmont would be a big step forward is laughable on its face.

        • Craig Brogden

          It is actually hilarious to read someone’s comments who is fearful of people knowing their real opinions of the industry.
          Fear of posting under ones real name when posting as someone who has all of the answers for the industry makes me roll around the room with giddy delight.
          Easy pickings

          • Tinky

            Ah, so rather than addressing the substance of my post, you resort to an ad hominem attack.

            That tells readers all that they need to know about the strength of your position.

          • Craig Brogden

            When you stand behind your opinions you will gain more respect

          • Tinky

            So you, who have resorted to ad hominem attacks rather than sticking to the substance of the discussion, are lecturing me on how to “gain more respect”.

            Apparently irony awareness is not your strong suit.

          • Craig Brogden

            Yep. I will continue to as long as you continue to post out of fear

          • Tinky

            For the sake of your friends and family, Craig, I hope that you lose arguments more gracefully in person than you do on-line.

        • Saratoga Horse Fan

          Sarava. : )

      • jack

        Speaking for gamblers i’ll take big fields (turf even better)of allow/claimers with lower takeout.

  • Glimmerglass

    If anyone didn’t expect this as a counter reaction to the MJC’s boost of the Preakness you simply haven’t been around long enough.

    That said I wish NYRA had structured the funds such that the Belmont stakes is a guaranteed $1M, but an incremental amount up to $1.5M if the maximum field size is achieved. Small field size, then smaller funds. Going one bit further they could have the stipulation of the added runners releasing added funds require the horse to have placed in a graded stakes.

    It is silly to have just 8 runners, for example, of which just a handful are solid threats chasing after the total of $1.5M.

  • Hoops and Horses

    What NYRA should do next is to move the Coaching Club American Oaks (what used to be the only Classic race in America for fillies that has been “dumped on” in recent years) back to Belmont and to two weeks after the Belmont Stakes, with that race also worth $1.5 million and returned to its former distance of 1 1/2 Miles with the same payment structure as the Belmont Stakes as the beginning of a return to longer distances races in general. That would make a huge statement to the sport and put the CCA Oaks in position to be the third leg of an official Filly Triple Tiara with the Kentucky Oaks as the first leg and either the Black Eyed Susan at Pimlico (if Pimlico wants to move that race off its traditional date to Memorial day Monday) or the Cotillion at Parx Racing (moved from September if Pimlico does not wish to move the BES) as the middle leg, in either case lengthened to 1 3/16 Miles and the KY Oaks lengthened to the same 1 1/4 MIles the boys go. This kind of official Filly Triple Crown would help grow the sport a lot.

  • Indulto

    Why didn’t they use the same strategy they did with the Cigar and only make the preceding classic winner(s) eligible for the purse increase?

    Only a crowd-building Triple Crown attempt warrants paying out the big money to any winner.

    • Hoops and Horses

      The $1.5 Million for The Belmont can be the base purse. Above that, I would additional incentives, including say an additional $250,000 to the winner if the horse also won the Derby or Preakness and an additional $2 million if the horse wins the Triple Crown, with a general increase of the base purse to $2.5 million if the Triple Crown is on the line.

  • jack

    Everytime they increase purses and not lower the takeout is slap in the face to their customers.

  • 4Bellwether666

    Wouldn’t 10 million buckaroos to win the Triple Dipper be more like in the land of Gazillionaires???…Why not a Triple Dipper for the Fillies too???…

  • Mimi Hunter

    What most of the negative comments seem to forget is that there aren’t as many horses in the Belmont Stakes as the other TC races. They have increased the purse to attract horses – that isn’t a bad thing – maybe they should do more to attract customers, but if it is a more competitive race, the customers will show up. One thing at a time isn’t the most popular option but should work in the long run.

  • Jttf

    why have a huge purse for horses who are only capable of running the race in 2:30 or more ?Even the winner’s beyer numbers are only in the 90s.

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