Sponsored races in which much of the purse money is put up by commercial firms include the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Durban July. In the United States most of the purse money for the richest events (offering purses in the millions of dollars) is provided by the stakes fees of the owners. Purses were winner-take-all in the early days of racing, but, as the racing of fields of horses came to predominate, a second prize came to be offered. Gradually, third and fourth prizes were added and occasionally fifth. On the average, modern-day purses are allocated about 60 percent to the winner, 20 percent to the second-place finisher, 12 percent to the third, 6 percent to the fourth, and 2 percent to the fifth-place finisher.
Horse racing is an equestrian performance sport, typically involving two or more horses ridden by jockeys (or sometimes driven without riders) over a set distance for competition. It is one of the most ancient of all sports, as its basic premise – to identify which of two or more horses is the fastest over a set course or distance – has been unchanged since at least classical antiquity.