USA Horse Racing

Horse Racing in the USAThe most important horse races in the United States are the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. The three championship races for three-year-olds form the Triple Crown and are held in May and June each year. The only races to rival the Triple Crown are held at the prestigious Breeders’ Cup meeting in November culminating in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. This is the second richest horse race in the world behind the Dubai World Cup.

The current best betting site for USA horse racing is Sportsbook.com where most races are covered with very decent odds.

Triple Crown

Just eleven horses have managed to complete the American Triple Crown. Sir Barton was the first horse to do so in 1919 followed by Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935) and War Admiral (1937). Four horses were successful in the 1940’s: Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946) and Citation (1948). It was then another 25 years until Secretariat produced his sensational performances in 1973. Seattle Slew (1977) and Affirmed (1978) were the most recent Triple Crown winners.

Many horses have won two of the three championship races. The five most recent horses to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes only to be withdrawn or defeated from the Belmont were War Emblem (2002), Funny Cide (2003), Smarty Jones (2004), Big Brown (2008) and I’ll Have Another (2012).

Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is a Grade I stakes race for three-year-olds held on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky. The race is over one and a quarter miles and best known as “The Run for the Roses” for the blanket of roses that is traditionally draped over the winner. The Kentucky Derby is a huge betting event and draws a massive crowd, the highest in North American racing.

Preakness Stakes

The Preakness Stakes is held on the third Saturday in May at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. It is a Grade I race run over 9.5 furlongs on dirt and makes up the second leg of the Triple Crown. This race invariably attracts the winner of the Kentucky Derby and creates enormous public interest with only the Kentucky Derby attracting a bigger audience.

Belmont Stakes

The Belmont Stakes is staged in June at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. It is a one and a half-mile race and puts the emphasis on stamina for any horse successful in the Kentucky Derby and/or Preakness. It is held exactly five weeks after the Kentucky Derby, and three weeks after the Preakness Stakes. The race takes on extra significance if there is a horse still in line for the illusive Triple Crown, which is also of interest for anyone in horse race betting.

Breeders’ Cup

The Breeders’ Cup is a two-day festival of top international racing with a multitude of Group 1 races on turf and dirt. The venue alters every season but it has only been staged once outside of the United States when it was held at the Woodbine Racetrack in Canada in 1996.

There is always a strong European challenge and they have been increasingly successful, almost exclusively in the turf races. The meeting was first staged in 1984 as a single day but was extended to two in 2007. There are 14 Breeders’ Cup Championship races with a maximum field of 14 runners. The Blue Riband event is the $5 million Classic that brings the meeting to a close. This race regularly attracts the best North American and International thoroughbreds. The great Cigar won in 1995 and in 2010 the race ended in heartbreak as the mighty Zenyatta lost her unbeaten record when failing to catch Blame in a thrilling finish. In 2010, the French-trained mare Goldikova became the most successful horse in the history of the Breeders’ Cup when she took the mile for a third consecutive year.

The 29th Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita (2012)

Day 1

$500,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Sprint (ungraded)
$500,000 Breeders’ Cup Marathon (gr. II)
$1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. I)
$2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I)
$2 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. I)
$2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (gr. I)

Day 2

$1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. I)
$1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (gr. I)
$1.5 million Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I)
$1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (gr. I)
$1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I)
$3 million Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. I)
$2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I)
$2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. I)
$5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I)

Video for Breeders Cup 2012 Classic

Other Important Races in USA

The American Oaks Invitational Stakes is held in early July at Hollywood Park Racetrack in Inglewood, California. It is restricted to three-year-old fillies and contested over one and a quarter miles on turf. This is one of many important USA horse racing betting events, apart from the big races covered on top of this page.

The Arkansas Derby is restricted to three-year-olds and takes place at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It is a Grade I event over a distance of 9 furlongs on dirt. It is recognised as a trial for the Triple Crown races and an important horse race in USA.

The Arlington Million is a Grade 1 race for horses aged three years and upward that takes place in August over a distance of one and a quarter miles at Arlington Park in Arlington Heights, Illinois. It was the first thoroughbred race to offer prize money of US$1,000,000.

The Beverly D. Stakes is a Grade 1 race for fillies and mares aged three-years-old and upward and takes place on the same day as the Arlington Million.

The Blue Grass Stakes is restricted to three-year-olds and is held in mid April at Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington, Kentucky. It is an important trial for the Kentucky Derby and therefore a big US horse race betting event.

The Florida Derby takes place at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida at the end of March or early April. This Grade 1 event for three-year-olds is run on the dirt for a purse of $1 Million.

The Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes is a Grade I race for fillies and mares run in early October at Belmont Park. The race was named after the winner of the Ladies Handicap at Belmont Park who went on to become an outstanding broodmare. It is a key trial for the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.

The Haskell Invitational was originally a handicap for older horses but became an invitation-only event for three-year-olds in 1981. It boasts prize money of $1,000,000 USD.

The Jockey Club Gold Cup is the main event of the fall meeting at Belmont Park. It is traditionally the event in which successful horses from the U.S. Triple Crown series meet their elders for the first time on a weight-for-age basis. In recent years it has suffered from the ever-increasing dominance of the Breeders’ Cup races.

The Kentucky Oaks is a Grade I stakes race for three-year-old fillies held at Churchill Downs over a distance of just over a mile.

The Man o’ War Stakes takes place at Belmont Park in July and is open to horses of three-years-old and upward. It is a serious trial for the Breeders’ Cup Turf and often attracts top European horses.

The Pacific Classic Stakes is run over a mile and a quarter in August at Del Mar Racetrack in California and is one of the top prizes for older horses racing in the United States. One of the most famous runnings of the race was in 1996 when Cigar failed in his attempt to beat Citation’s record of 16 straight victories. Hall of Fame Jockey Julie Krone become the first lady rider to win a million-dollar race when she partnered Candy Ride to victory in a track record time in 2003.

The Santa Anita Derby is run in April at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California with a purse of $1 million. Seven Santa Anita Derby winners have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby and it is still regarded as an important trial.

The Santa Anita Handicap takes place in early March at Santa Anita Park and is a Grade I race for horses of four years old and upward. The horse most famously associated with the race was Seabiscuit who was beaten into second in 1937 and 1938. He suffered what was believed to be a career-ending injury while being prepared for the 1939 renewal but returned in 1940 to win what turned out to be his last race.

The Travers Stakes is held at Saratoga Racecourse in Saratoga Springs, New York. The race is the highlight of the summer meeting at Saratoga with the 143rd running taking place in 2012.

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