Saturday, June 5, 2004

Win gives Smarty record earnings

The Associated Press

LEXINGTON - At the home of the richest thoroughbred in North American history, folks will be watching the Belmont Stakes today with more than their usual level of interest.

If Smarty Jones wins, he will become the 12th Triple Crown winner and thus earn a $5 million bonus. That would boost his career earnings past the record $9,999,815 earned by Cigar in the 1990s. Smarty still would have work to do to surpass racing's all-time money winner, T.M. Opera O from Japan, who earned $16,200,337.

Cigar, now 14, is one of the esteemed tenants at the Kentucky Horse Park's Hall of Champions.

Those who care for Cigar at the Horse Park are rooting for Smarty but have mixed emotions about the bonuses becoming more prevalent in racing. Smarty Jones already earned a $5 million bonus this year for sweeping the Rebel Stakes, Arkansas Derby and Kentucky Derby.

"Times are changing, and purses are a lot higher," said Tammy Siters, the Hall's assistant barn manager. "One thing people should remember when they look at a horse's earnings is to look at how they accomplished those earnings.

"That's more important than the bottom line."

Cigar won 16 straight races - matching Citation's modern-day record - from Oct. 28, 1994, through July 13, 1996.

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