What is a “purse” in horse racing?

The purse of a race is the amount of prize money that is divided among the top finishers and can range from a few hundred dollars to $/£20 million – the amount awarded in the richest race in the world, the Saudi Cup.

The money is usually produced by the racetrack’s takeout – the amount it takes out of the parimutuel pool before paying winning tickets – entry fees and sometimes by subsidies derived from other sources, such as casino-style gambling at racetracks.

Purses are typically divided this way: 60 percent to the connections of the winner; 20 percent to the runner-up; 11 percent to third; 6 percent to fourth; and 3 percent to fifth. But some tracks and races use different schemes that pay at least a little to all participants.