E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
A race in which stakes are made by the owners of horses
engaged, to be awarded to the winner or other horse in the race. In all sweepstakes entrance money has to be paid to the race fund. (See PLATE, SELLING-RACE, HANDICAP. WEIGHT-FOR-AGE RACE.)
If the horse runs, the full stake must be paid; but if it is withdrawn, a forfeit only is imposed.
Also a gambling arrangement by which the successful bettor sweeps up or carries off all the other stakes. It is sometimes applied to a game of cards in which one of the players may win all the tricks or all the stakes.