05/02/2006 12:00AM

Championship purses receive $6 million raise


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Purses for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships were increased from $14 million to $20 million, officials with the series announced Tuesday afternoon.

The Classic, the signature event of the eight-race series, received a $1 million boost to $5 million. The Turf, Filly and Mare Turf, Sprint, and Juvenile Fillies also had their purses increased by $1 million. The Mile and the Juvenile each received a bump of $500,000. The Distaff, which had its purse increased to $2 million in 1998, did not receive an increase.

The Turf is now worth $3 million, while the Filly and Mare Turf, Sprint, Juvenile Fillies, Mile, Juvenile and Distaff are each worth $2 million.

"It's always the role of the Breeders' Cup board to keep an eye on purse levels to keep it competitive on the world stage," said Bill Farish Jr., chairman of the board of Breeders' Cup Ltd. "The board felt it was time to make a major increase."

Despite these increases, the Breeders' Cup still ranks behind the Dubai World Cup card as the richest event in racing. The six races on that card, highlighted by the $6 million World Cup, are worth $21 million.

D.G. Van Clief, who on April 26 announced his retirement from the Breeders' Cup effective by year's end, said the Breeders' Cup board contemplated raising the purse of the Classic to $6 million to put it on par with the Dubai World Cup. But under that scenario, Van Clief said, there would not have been enough funding to make the entire day worth $20 million.

"Although it's huge, numbers like 17 and 18 million don't roll off the tongue like a $20-million day," Van Clief said.

The money to fund these purse increases come from two main avenues. First, the Breeders' Cup instituted a new rule regarding how much money must be paid to make a stallion Breeders' Cup nominated. In the past, all one had to do was pay a fee equal to the stallion's stud fee. Now, if a stallion covers 50 to 99 mares, that fee is 1 1/2 times the stud fee; if he covers 100 or more mares that fee is twice the stud fee.

Secondly, the Breeders' Cup has increased sponsor money for its eight races over the years. It was announced Tuesday that Television Games Network renewed its sponsorship of the Sprint, a race it first sponsored last year.

The Breeders' Cup also announced a change to the pre-entry and entry fees as well as supplemental nomination fees. Though pre-entry and entry fees have been reduced from 3 to 2.5 percent of the purse, because of the purse increases participants will be paying more to run in these races than in previous years. For example, it will now cost $125,000 to run a horse in the Classic as compared with $120,000 last year.

Supplemental fees for horses whose sires were nominated to the Breeders' Cup have been reduced from 20 percent to 15 percent of the purse for a Breeders' Cup race.

The Breeders' Cup will be run for the 23rd time on Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs.