I recently came across an article from a local paper on PEI calling for the purse of the Gold Cup and Saucer to be raised to $100,000 in an effort to get the best horses in North America to make an appearance at Charlottetown Driving Park. The article is correct to note at the current rate of exchange, a horse could race in the Open at Yonkers Raceway and come out ahead of winning the Gold Cup and Saucer.
Well to be honest, a $100,000 purse likely wouldn't induce top horses to come up to Atlantic Canada. Heck a $100,000 race in the United States in August likely would get a field of second and third tier horses with the value of stakes at slot tracks so much higher; the chance of top horses heading to the Maritimes is unlikely. But this call for a purse increase can mean only one thing.
The Gold Cup and Saucer is becoming more commercial and this is a sad thing.
Look, the idea of a large purse race is hard to argue against but the fact is the charm of the GC&S would be diminished, the same way the charm of the Hambletonian lost a lot when it left the cornfields of DuQuion for the Big City charm of the Greater New York region. Right now, it is the dream of every horseman from PEI and other parts of Canada to win the closing race of Old Home Week. How much of this charm would remain if you see the big city trainers from the American East cluttering the entry box, looking at the race as a place to race their second tier horses? It wouldn't be beyond the realm of possibility for the race to take on the complexion of a race at Yonkers Raceway.
Yes, the owners cashing a check after the race will be better off, but at what cost? I think it may be a cost those in Prince Edward Island may want to think twice about.