If Owner Has a Triple Crown Winner in 1987, He May Be $5 Million Richer

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If a thoroughbred sweeps next year’s Triple Crown races, his owner may be $5 million richer and could be in line for a guaranteed $25-million syndication deal when the horse goes to stud.

Triple Crown Productions, a group formed by Churchill Downs, Pimlico and Belmont Park, the tracks that run the three Triple Crown races, reportedly is on the verge of nailing down a commercial sponsorship that would be instrumental in establishing purses and a bonus that would total $5 million for a Triple Crown champion.

If a horse had swept the Triple Crown this year, he would have earned a record amount, but it would have been only $1.4 million with no bonus contingency. One of the reasons the three tracks organized this year is because Garden State Park, offering a $1-million purse and a $2-million bonus for sweeping a four-race series, last year lured Kentucky Derby winner Spend a Buck away from the Preakness, the middle jewel in the crown. Spend a Buck won the Jersey Derby and had a record $2.6-million payday--the bonus and a winner’s purse of $600,000.


Tom Meeker, president of Churchill Downs, who met here with officials of Pimlico and Churchill Downs a couple of days before Saturday’s Preakness, said that a Triple Crown sponsorship was imminent but wouldn’t name the corporation. Meeker said that when the sponsor is signed, the three tracks would have $5 million at their disposal.

The bonus money, which might be $2 million, would be awarded each year regardless of whether there’s a Triple Crown champion. A point system based on the way the horses finish in all three Triple Crown races would determine the winner of the bonus. Meeker said that if the bonus system had been in effect last year, Stephan’s Odyssey would have been the hypothetical winner, even though he didn’t win a Triple Crown race. Stephan’s Odyssey ran second in both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont and skipped the Preakness.

The breeding syndication would be guaranteed by the Triple Crown tracks, which would acquire 40 investors who would each receive a lifetime breeding share in the horse for $625,000. Each investor would be able to send a mare to the stallion on an annual basis.