12/16/2005 12:00AM

Derby and BC Classic climb global purse list


NEW YORK - The 2005 list of the 100 richest flat races in the world bears a strong resemblance to the 2004 list. The Dubai World Cup remains the most valuable race in the world at $6 million, but the Breeders' Cup Classic leapfrogged over the Japan Cup into second place, thanks to the $800,000 supplementary fee required to get Starcraft into the race.

The biggest change was the leap of the Kentucky Derby from 55th place to eighth place, courtesy of Churchill Downs having doubled the purse. Our Derby also moved from eighth to second in the worldwide derby standings. Speaking monetarily, it now rates behind only the Japanese Derby, or Tokyo Yushun.

Nearly as great an advance was made by the Prix du Jockey-Club, or French Derby, which jumped from 47th to 29th place. An even bigger move forward was made by the Prix de Diane, or French Oaks. An increase from $601,000 to $969,760, part of a France-Galop initiative to raise the prize money of the French classics, earned the Diane 100th place. It now rates as the richest race in the world for 3-year-old fillies outside of Japan.

And once again, it is Japan that leads the world in placing 46 races in the top 100. Although that is a decrease of one from a year ago, the Japanese continue to outpace the rest of the world in prize money. The Japan Racing Association accounted for 40 of those 46 races, with the National Association of Racing pitching in with six, all of them on dirt.

However, a number of Japanese races in the top 100 slipped a few places this year. While Japanese purses have been largely static in recent years in terms of yen, the weakening of that currency over the last half of 2005 accounted for such declines as the Japan Cup Dirt's drop from 10th to 18th place.

A breakdown by nation reads: Japan 46, United States 19, Hong Kong 11, Australia 8, United Arab Emirates 6, France 3, Britain 2, Ireland 2, and Canada, Italy, and Singapore 1 each. At least as revealing are the continental standings: Asia 64, North America 20, Australia 8, Europe 8.

In jump racing, the Nakayama Grand Jump maintained its lead at $1,419,652 as Aintree's Grand National Steeplechase moved a step closer into second at $1,324,050.

We can expect a major overhaul of the top 10 next year as it has already been announced that both the Dubai Duty Free and the Dubai Sheema Classic will be upped from $2 million to $5 million for their renewals on March 25. That will boost them into second place, giving the UAE the first three places in the standings. Barring increases elsewhere, the Duty Free and the Sheema Classic will also become the richest turf races in the world.

Meanwhile, the Jockey Club Gold Cup, currently in an 11-way tie for 81st place, will drop out of the top 100 as the New York Racing Association has announced that it will be cut from $1 million to $750,000 as part of a general decrease in graded-race purses in New York.