The Dubai World Cup announced this weekend it will retain its US$12 million purse for 2021, while, at the same time, cutting $8.5 million from its undercard purses.

Thunder Snow-DWC Purse Cuts
Thunder Snow (right) captured the last two Dubai World Cups. The late March race kept its $12 million purse as undercard race purses were trimmed due to COVID-19. (Image: Erika Rasmussen/Dubai Racing Club)

This keeps the March 27 Dubai World Cup as one of the richest races in the world. The late March event was canceled six days before its planned 2020 running due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Several US horses made the trip to Dubai before officials canceled the race.

The same officials cited the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for reducing purses on the eight undercard races. That leaves purses on the day’s card at $26.5 million, a reduction from the planned $35 million. That total purse increased from $30 million to $35 million in 2019, with the marquee Dubai World Cup getting a bump from $10 million to $12 million.

“Given the challenging events over the past few months on account of COVID-19, Dubai Racing Club has made every effort to ensure the return of racing in safe and secure conditions,” the DRC said in a statement announcing the moves.

Payouts Extended as Purses Cut

At the same time, Dubai Racing Club officials extended payouts all the way to eighth place. That extends payouts two places, from its previous sixth-place floor.

Traditionally held the final Saturday in March at Meydan Racecourse in the United Arab Emirates, the Group 1 Dubai World Cup sends an international field 2,000 meters (nearly 1-¼ miles). That marquee race highlights a nine-race card featuring six Group 1 races and three Group 2 races. The lure of those rich purses enticed 1,774 nominees and 902 horses from 21 countries last year.


Dubai World Cup-Revised Purses

Race Distance Purse (US$) Former Purse (US$)
Dubai Kahayla Classic (Group 1) 2,000 meters $750,000 $1.5 million
Godolphin Mile (G2) 1,600 meters $750,000 $1.5 million
Dubai Gold Cup (G2Turf) 3,200 meters $750,000 $1.5 million
Al Quoz Sprint (G1Turf) 1,200 meters $1 million $2 million
UAE Derby (G2) 1,900 meters $750,000 $2.5 million
Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) 1,200 meters $1.5 million $2.5 million
Dubai Turf (G1Turf) 1,800 meters $4 million $6 million
Dubai Sheema Classic (G1Turf) 2,410 meters $5 million $6 million
Dubai World Cup (G1) 2,000 meters $12 million $12 million

Previous winners of the Dubai World Cup include inaugural 1996 winner Cigar, Silver Charm, Curlin, Animal Kingdom, California Chrome, Arrogate, and Irish-bred Thunder Snow, who won the last two in 2018 and 2019. Horses from the US, Ireland, Great Britain, Argentina, Japan, and Brazil have all won the event.

Along with the purse announcements, the DRC extended free nominations for the race to Jan. 20, 2021.

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