As far as horse racing goes, Stakes races offer the highest level of competition. They regularly involve the best horses in a particular group, whether it is three-year-olds or three-year-old fillies. This type of horse racing attracts the most attention and happens worldwide, in public or private racecourses.
If you are new to horse racing, you should know a few things before diving into the world of Stakes races. Here is a short guide to Stakes races in horse racing.
1. Stakes Races are for premium horses.
A few facts define stakes races, but none does so more than the types of horses on display. They feature the best of the best, all of whom have proven themselves in smaller competitions to earn their place on the track.
The race goes back to the era when horse racing was exclusively the sport of kings and noblemen. While that is still largely true, like what the Royal Ascot is today, regular folk who can afford the cost can compete in Stakes races now.
2. They require a nomination fee.
Horse racing may no longer be the exclusive sport of nobility. However, stakes races still require well-to-do men and women to put up exorbitant amounts to compete. This requirement is called a nomination or entry free and forms part of the total prize money.
Depending on the type of stakes race, the fee can range from $75,000 to millions of dollars. The most expensive stakes races globally, such as the Saudi Cup and Pegasus World Cup, boast of up to $20 million and $13 million in prize money.
3. Stakes races can either be conditioned or handicapped.
Another thing worth noting is that Stakes races can either be conditioned or handicapped races. A conditioned race is a type of race where their winning record or earnings determine the weight carried by the horses. Their age and sex can also be a determinant.
A handicapped race, on the other hand, is the amount of burden carried by a horse, and a track official usually sets it. The goal is to level the playing field between horses and reduce the natural advantages between them.
4. The races can happen on a turf or dirt track.
There is no exclusive type of surface for a Stakes race. A race can either occur on a turf or dirt track. Stakes races like the Ascot Gold Cup and the Derby Stakes happen on turf since this type of surface is the most popular in Europe.
In the US, where dirt surfaces are more popular, stakes races like the Kentucky Derby happen on these grounds.
5. There are four levels of Stakes race.
Not all Stakes races are equal. There are four stakes race levels, broken down into the following grades – Listed, Grade III, Grade II, and Grade I. Grade I races are the most prestigious. They include races like the Triple Crown and Breeders Cup World Championships.
At the bottom is Listed, which might be historically prestigious but are held at lower quality tracks without top thoroughbred talents.
The grade of each stakes race is determined by various factors, including the quality of competition, purse money, and more. As such, stakes race can go up and down the grade level,