The Belmont Stakes is set for Saturday. This year, all eyes are on American Pharoah as the thoroughbred tries to take home horse racing’s coveted Triple Crown.
That feat hasn’t been accomplished since Affirmed won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes consecutively in 1978.
As you could imagine, there’s a whole lot of cash at stake here. See some interesting data on the Triple Crown from our Rian Bosse.
American Pharoah has already taken home more than $2 million for winning the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness this year, and Fortune says Saturday’s winner will earn a purse of $1.5 million.
But purse earnings aren’t the big money story here. The real income lies in breeding rights to American Pharoah, who is owned by Egyptian businessman Ahmed Zayat.
And the rights to use the three-year-old thoroughbred as a stud has already been sold, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell.
On May 18, Zayat and his family rejected offers of more than $20 million for their colt, saying that they wished to wait until after the Belmont race. A day later, however, the family sold American Pharoah’s breeding rights for an undisclosed amount.
Zayat will retain complete control over American Pharoah’s racing rights in the deal, according to ESPN, and the colt will also continue his racing career even if he wins the Triple Crown on Saturday.
The deal to use American Pharoah as a stud, which was unable to be divulged due to a confidentiality agreement, will also pay the Zayat family more if their colt wins the Belmont.
When Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978, his owners sold his breeding rights for $14.4 million a year later, according to the Associated Press. After adjusting for inflation, that translates into $40 million in today’s dollars.
Back in 2008 before the economy dipped, Rovell says another racehorse, Big Brown, got a stud deal for $50 million.
The racing industry took a big hit once the recession took hold, however, and hasn’t truly recovered yet.
It’s unclear how much American Pharoah’s breeding rights ultimately went for (or how high it will go if he wins on Saturday), but it’s probably safe to say that the deal is worth at least more than $25 million.
Zayat, who is currently caught up in a $3 million gambling lawsuit, is probably rejoicing over the big infusion of cash.
For story ideas, check in with local racing fans and racing officials in your area. Find local bars and restaurants where the race will be shown. If your state has legalized gambling, track how big the bets are on the race.