02/01/2017 3:16PM

Australia unveils Pegasus-like turf-sprint stakes

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The era of owner-funded jackpot stakes is expanding to include the world’s richest turf race in Australia.

Australian officials Wednesday announced the launch of the Everest Stakes, a six-furlong turf sprint on Oct. 14 at Royal Randwick Racecourse outside of Sydney. The race will have a purse of approximately $7.5 million, or 10 million Australian dollars at Wednesday’s exchange rate.

The Everest will have a field of 12, with berths available to owners from throughout the world for approximately $450,000. Owners must make a three-year commitment. The race will be worth $4.38 million to the winner.

Officials with Racing New South Wales and the Australian Turf Club hope the Everest will draw runners from nations such as Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore.

The Everest was announced five days after the $12 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park became the world’s richest race.

The Pegasus purse was funded with $1 million berths purchased by owners, who had the option to transfer the berth to others owners through private transactions. The Everest has a similar format. Aside from berths, the remaining prize money for the Everest will be generated from handle, sponsorships, and television rights, according to organizers.

The Everest will be part of the Sydney Spring Carnival, a festival of top-class turf races run each October. The new race will surpass the immensely popular Melbourne Cup in November as Australia’s richest race. The 2016 Melbourne Cup was worth approximately $4.55 million.

For Australian sprinters, the Everest is a massive boost for that time of year.

There were two Group 1 sprint stakes worth approximately $756,300 run late last year – the Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley on Oct. 21 and the Darley Classic at Flemington on the undercard of the Melbourne Cup.

The richest turf sprint in the United States is the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, which will be run at Del Mar on Nov. 4.