Big Brown-Curlin matchup could be worth $5 million

BOSTON, Mass. -- Suffolk Downs is offering a $5 million purse for the Massachusetts Handicap if Big Brown wins the Triple Crown and both he and Curlin go undefeated and start in the race against each other.

The $5 million would include a $1 million participation bonus for each horse.

The 1 1-8-mile race, to be run Sept. 20, currently carries a $500,000 purse. The extra money would be funded by a company controlled by Richard T. Fields, the largest shareholder of Suffolk Downs.

Big Brown could become the first Triple Crown winner in 30 years if he wins the Belmont Stakes on Saturday. Curlin was the 2007 Horse of the Year.

"If they are to square off, we feel that a $5 million purse is a great incentive and what better place than at Suffolk Downs in the city of Boston, the sports capital of the world," Fields said in a statement Thursday.

The purse would be $3 million if Big Brown wins the Triple Crown and both he and Curlin start the race but one or both horses have a loss this year. The $3 million would include a $500,000 participation bonus for each.

"We're not looking to run away from Curlin," said Michael Iavarone, co-president of IEAH Stables, which owns Big Brown. "I'm not looking forward to running against him because he's a special horse."

MassCap winners include Seabiscuit, Whirlaway, Riva Ridge and Cigar.