Deciphering Fees for Stakes Races
Reprinted with the permission of the Thoroughbred Owners of California
A typical stakes race will usually have one closing date for nominations, which usually falls between ten to fourteen days before the running of the race. Also, some races have a supplementary nomination fee that is normally paid at the time of entry. The supplementary nomination fee allows horses that missed the original closing date to nominate, and is usually substantially higher than the regular nomination fee.
Some stakes use a different type of closing system. Many two-year-old stakes have a regular closing date for nominations and a second sustaining payment. Many three-year-old stakes have an early closing, sometimes when the horse is still two-years-old, and then a late nomination deadline closer to the race for horses not previously nominated. The late nomination fee is higher than the early closing because it is closer to the running of the race. The different methods are used to accommodate late developing horses and sometimes to generate larger purses.
The entry fee can be found in the conditions of most stakes races. As it's name implies, it is to be paid when the horse is entered in the stakes race, which is typically two to three days before the race. While most stakes races charge an entry fee, there are many stakes that do not.
The starting fee is the final fee to be paid when the horse is declared a starter after the starting gate opens. If for some reason the horse was scratched prior to the race's running, this fee would not apply. These fees are billed directly from an owner's account through the track's paymaster after the race has been run.
Where Do These Fees Go?
The nomination, entry, and starting fees are incorporated in the purse of a stakes race. They affect the value of the race depending upon if the stake is an "added money" or "guaranteed" race. An added stakes race adds these fees to the advertised purse, increasing the race's value. A guaranteed stakes race adds these fees to regular purse revenues to bring the purse total up to its advertised amount.
Every track in the country has a different philosophy regarding these fees. Some tracks, such as Prairie Meadows, do not charge any nomination fees in order to entice horsemen to run in Iowa. Other tracks run invitational stakes races with no fees whatsoever.
The ultimate goal of every track is to get the largest and highest quality fields for all of its stakes races, and may change its stakes' fee structure in order to do so.