World’s Richest Horse Race: Sheikh Mohammed Plans Purse Increase For Dubai World Cup

by | 03.26.2017 | 5:22pm
Dubai World Cup winner Arrogate has 23 presences of Man o' War in his pedigree

Saturday saw Juddmonte's Arrogate take down the Dubai World Cup in spectacular fashion to become the richest North American racehorse in history, boasting a mind-boggling $17 million in earnings. On the same night, reports The National, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, vice president of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, made a public promise: he will increase the Dubai World Cup's purse so that it regains its title as the world's richest horse race.

The Dubai World Cup has been on top of the purse race since its inauguration in 1996. That year, it was won by one of the all-time great racehorses, Cigar, who earned the winner's share of a $4 million purse. More recently, Sheikh Mohammed increased the Dubai World Cup's purse to $10 million in 2010, the same year the Meydan Racecourse was opened.

In January of 2017, Arrogate also competed (and ultimately won easily) in the only race to eclipse the Dubai World Cup's $10 million purse, the $12 million Pegasus World Cup held at Gulfstream Park. The brainchild of Frank Stronach, the Pegasus pools 12 $1 million entry fees to create its massive prize.

Initially Sheikh Mohammed decided not to increase the Dubai World Cup's purse, at least for 2017, but it appears he has changed his mind.

“I always want to be one step ahead,” said Sheikh Mohammed in a CNN interveiw. “I am always optimistic. We want to be number one and I am meeting with my people to be number one.”

Read more at The National.

  • ofmyownaccord

    I knew that was gonna happen. The Sheikh has more money in his couch cushions and could double the DWC purse if he really wanted to.

    • Meydan Rocks

      LOL! Couch cushions? Hilarious.

      • M. Lewis

        The sofa couch as it became known in Victorian England actually did come from Saudi Arabia.

  • Minneola

    After the Pegasus came up with their race that offered even more than the DWC? Hardly surprised with this increase. Didn’t we all expect that to happen from the very beginnng?

    • Meydan Rocks

      Yes. Now horses will have a reason to race longer.

      • Minneola

        Well, actually, it might not be that the horses will have a reason to race longer but their owners and trainers may see a real incentive to do so. I do really enjoy seeing the older horses race. Too see so many retired after their third year just seems to get me to the point of being interested in some of them and, yet, yanked away just as quickly!

  • Gordon calhoun

    Got an ego, he has

    • Meydan Rocks

      That’s all they have. The oil has long since dwindled. They’re moving their economy towards a more service high tech economy. They’re into doing conventions, drawing big business to have satellite offices out of their tiny country. He HAD TO raise the purse. It’s more than ego. It’s national long term relevance, pride and ultimately, survival.

    • Peter Berry

      Ego is not a dirty word.

    • Minneola

      Ego in horse racing? Nahhhhhh. ;-)

  • Andy

    You knew the Sheikh wasn’t gonna let this go, probably a $13 or $15 million purse next year

    • ctgreyhound

      The Sheikh is a shrewd man & won’t be outdone by Pegasus or anyone else.

      • Nell Ray

        Except Coolmore

  • Delaney Nelson

    If you didn’t see this coming I’d recommend a good optometrist.

    As talented as Arrogate is, it’s somewhat laughable that a horse lays claim to the title of all time leading earner mainly due to two men and their ego’s that are only outsized by their wallets.

    Lovely windfall for the owners of the horses that win those races, don’t get me wrong, but it’s cheapening the aura of greatness an all time money earner should have.

    • Meydan Rocks

      We used to complain that horses were being whisked away too early to make love. Now they have a reason to stay longer. I don’t see a problem at all. Who knows, one day you may have a horse that may win millions for you and still, you’d refuse to hustle it away to go make babies that may turn out to be not as good as daddy.

    • Maurice B. Quirin

      You’re right … someone needs to extrapolate 1970s dollars to today’s purses to put Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed’s winnings in true perspective. Even California Chrome whose body of work spanned many races. How about Zenyatta? Think of what 19 wins would amount to at, say, an average purse of $4 or $5 million. Not to take away from Arrogate’s breathtaking stride and speed.

      • Anna

        John Henry would be in the top 3 if not number 1. Purses were no where near where they are today yet he won millions.

    • Nell Ray

      Greatest of all-time should never be determined by money. If that’s the case then the Japanese base horses will always be in the top 2.

    • Performance, not purse money, should be used to define greatness. Too many people these days are impressed by dollars over other things.

    • J. Nasium

      You are correct…

  • mikec

    Sheikh Mo $$$$$$$$$$

  • 1fdoos

    And who is going to throw 1mil for their horse to run against Arrogate in the Pegasus?

    • duey_wag

      Eleven owners already did. Although, I wonder how long owners will be willing to continue to do that.

  • MA

    It’s always been a rich man’s sport, the rest of us are just living in it.

  • Tinky

    Ignorant, and purely ego-driven. As if there is a single horse that has not contested the race in the past because it wasn’t already valuable enough…

    • Larry Sterne

      Sheik MO has done as much for American horse racing as any other person in U S. We are lucky he doesn’t require other people’s money to have a rich race. Plus he supports the US yearling sales as much if not more than anyone.and he does this world wide. Instead of being cynical of His Highness’s motives,I feel we should be thankful. Plus Godolphin supports the headstand program for those wanting to make a career in racing. Best Regards.

      • Tinky

        My comment was very specific, and had nothing whatsoever to do with SM’s other activities.

        While I disagree with your assessment of his impact on the American racing industry, that is a separate discussion entirely.

        My original point stands, and I challenge anyone to produce a compelling counter-argument.

        • Old Timer

          Ego-driven, possibly, but ignorant, it isn’t. If your goal is to have the richest race, then you must have the largest purse available. Not sure how that can be ignorant on its face.

          Yes you’ll possibly nuance how you get the same bang for your buck because no other horses would be attending that wouldn’t have already, or that you can probably attract more horses by having a more robust meet prior to and getting horses to stable there before etc. All great arguments mind you. Ultimately I think the money could be better well spent IMO then on one race, but it’s not my money or my goal, or quite frankly my race lol.

          So it’s simply, I want to have the biggest building in the world, well I have to make it stand taller than any other, doesn’t matter if it costs more, I still have to build it taller. That’s not being ignorant, that’s quite the opposite, that’s knowing my competition, equaling them, and going beyond.

          • Tinky

            What you describe above is precisely that of an ego-driven endeavour, though building the world’s tallest skyscraper could possibly confer some marketing advantage.

            The DWC was, and by a wide margin, the richest race for many years, yet failed to attract significantly better fields over time, even with major purse increases. It has also never threatened to come close to the well-established, top races around the world in terms of importance.

            In other words, throwing lots of money at a race is no guarantee of success, and there is no reason to believe that larding the purse with a few million more will in any way change the quality of perception of the DWC any more than it has previously.

            Do you imagine that any horses wouldn’t run next year were the purse to remain the same?

          • Nell Ray

            exactly the same sentiments that I’ve expressed below. since moving back to dirt the Dubai World Cup is nothing more than an American G2 ran 3000 miles away from America. The All Weather track was a true world cup surface. But of course The Americans cried about that because they didnt have the advantage totally. The same thing happened in the states after Ravens Pass won the Breeders Cup Classic.

      • Anna

        He also supports reforming his horses instead of dropping them through the claiming ranks. Godolphin is a huge supporter of New Vocations in KY and have their won program in England.

  • Den Jay

    If it wasn’t for oil Sheikh Mo would maybe be herding sheep…

    • Old Timer

      Uhhhh yeah and we as the U.S. maybe in the same situation..whats the point besides his country is lucky, just like this country happens to be sitting on top of oil or other natural resource. Hell we might not even exist as a country if it wasn’t for our vast natural resources that’s allowed us to work through so many daunting times, say the multiple wars we have been in, here in the good ole’ US of A.

    • louisville race fan

      Goats and camels

    • talkingman17

      He’d be a sandals salesman.

  • Rachel

    The couple of races that offer these huge purses make stallion earnings & “richest horse” meaningless.

    • SPA


  • Jamaal

    Sheikh should take a page from the Price is Right…Make the Purse $12,000,001. Throw some Shade at Stronach, would be GOLD.

    • Old Timer

      Hahahaha that’s the best response I’ve seen. Let them go back and forth a while at $1 each, that would be hilarious. They both could claim richest race yearly.

  • SPA

    When asked by a sarcastic reporter “How do you sleep at night?” The Sheikh responded “On top of a pile of money.”

  • Nell Ray

    I don’t know how well this is going to play. Given that most of the racing in the world is conducted on turf. an exorbitant amount of money for dirt horses that are mainly based in America wouldn’t be really inviting to the rest of the world to bring their best this is why the Dubai World Cup is falling out of favor with many European based trainers. The old weather gave a chance for all horses to compete. not just American but European Japanese and southern hemisphere horses as well.

    • Lehane


  • vince

    For me the Dubai world cup is still the richest race in the world as you don’t pay a million dollars to run in the race unlike the pegasus . If your handing out that sort of money to run you better be confident your going to finish first or second …

    • ctgreyhound

      The races at Dubai are straight forward. The Pegasus showed maneuvering to get a horse in the starting gate was problematic & resulted in entries that weren’t of Pegasus caliber.

    • David Juffet

      Great point agree.

    • Judoon

      Lol, the purse size is the only thing that determines the richest race.

  • horsepower

    Two men who have done more and supported racing and breeding more than anyone else. How do you criticize them. It’s a very good thing they have lots of money and are passionate about the Sport or we would be in much bigger trouble than we are. Thank you both for your efforts to keep Racing a World Class event. The media attention and the eyeballs glued to the screen watching these events around the globe are critical to racing maintaining a meaningful presence in a saturated Sporting & Gaming World!

  • JustJoe

    Make it $100 million, most of the time the money stays in the family anyway.

  • They need to raise it. No one cared even though best horse on the planet ran in the race. When Cigar ran it, people were glued to their TVs. Though not sure even with bigger purse anyone outside the tiny population of racing fans will even care about a big race in UAE.

  • Ty Wyant

    The non-surprise of the year.

  • Jay Stone

    For those that want to criticize the quality of the Pegasus just look at the results in Dubai. The winner came out of the Pegasus. The second place horse would have competed in the Pegasus were it not for the quarantine in New Orleans. The third-place horse came out of the Pegasus. CC retired so it seems except for Mr. Stronach’s horse the Pegasus was comprised of the worlds best horses. The Dubai race also featured many also rans who were not near world class.

  • Jerry Jackson

    THE $12m for the Pegasus was really $9m. The 12 owners put up $1m each, but they were guaranteed to get back $250k, so their real risk was $750k.
    Next year, if the owners put up $2m, and are guaranteed $1.25m back, will that make it a $24m race? No, it’s the same purse. Remember, figures don’t lie, but liars figure!

  • mongo98

    Frank S. has met his match.

  • Audrey Gulla

    I think I saw this coming when the Pegasus formed….

  • J. Nasium

    I think one race for $1,000,000,000 would attract a crowd.

Twitter Twitter
Paulick Report on Instagram