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The 13 Biggest Horse Races in the U.S.: The Ones to Watch

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There is something special about horse racing. The excitement of watching these magnificent animals compete against each other is unlike any other sporting event. And in the United States, there are some truly great horse races that draw huge crowds from all over the country.

Here are 13 of the biggest horse races to watch this year. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newbie, these races are sure to thrill and excite. So mark your calendars and get ready for some serious racing.

Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby: This prestigious horse race has been run annually since 1875 and is considered to be one of the most iconic sporting events in the country.

Every year, on the first Saturday in May, huge crowds gather at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky to watch as 20 horses compete for a chance to win the coveted Kentucky Derby trophy.

Picture of one of the biggest horse races,

Breeders Cup

The Breeders’ Cup is an annual event that brings together the best horses from around the world to compete in a series of races. The Breeders’ Cup was first held in 1984, and it has become one of the most prestigious events in horse racing.

The Breeders’ Cup is held at a different location each year, and the race schedule includes both turf and dirt courses. The Breeders’ Cup also features a number of Grade I stake races, which are the highest level of horse racing.

Some of the most famous horses to have competed in the Breeders’ Cup include Secretariat, Man o’ War, and American Pharoah. The Breeders’ Cup is truly a horse racing fans dream.

Pegasus World Cup

The Pegasus World Cup is a horse race that takes place annually at the Gulfstream Park racetrack in Hallandale Beach, Florida. It is open to horses three years of age and older, and is run at a distance of 1⅛ miles (9 furlongs).

The Pegasus World Cup has a purse of $16 million, making it the richest horse race in North America. The Pegasus World Cup invitational is also one of the most prestigious races in the world, drawing some of the best horses from around the globe.

The Pegasus World Cup was first run in 2017, and its inaugural winner was Arrogate, who went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic later that year.

Preakness Stakes

The Preakness Stakes is a horse race that is held annually in Baltimore, Maryland. It is the second leg of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, and it is typically held two weeks after the Kentucky Derby.

The Preakness Stakes is open to three-year-old horses, and it is run at a distance of 1 3/16 miles. The Preakness Stakes has been held at Pimlico Race Course since 1873, making it the oldest of the Triple Crown races.

In recent years, the Preakness Stakes has attracted some of the top horses from around the world, and it has become one of the most popular horse races in North America.

Belmont Stakes

The Belmont Stakes is a horse race held annually at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. It is the third and final leg of the Triple Crown, following the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.

The Belmont Stakes is open to three-year-old thoroughbreds and is run over a distance of 1.5 miles (2.4 km). The race is nicknamed “The Test of the Champion” due to its demanding length, which often leads to horses that have won the first two legs of the Triple Crown to falter.

In recent years, however, horses that did not win either the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness Stakes have gone on to win the Belmont Stakes.

Travers Stakes

The Travers Stakes is a Thoroughbred horse race held annually at Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. Travers Stakes is also known as the “Midsummer Derby” because it is one of the premier races for three-year-olds in North America.

The Travers Stakes was first held in 1864 and is named for William Travers, who was one of the founders of Saratoga Race Course. The Travers Stakes is run over a distance of 1 1/4 miles on dirt and is currently part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series. Many notable horses have won the Travers Stakes, including Man o’ War, Secretariat, and Affirmed.

Classic picture of a racehorse and jockey.

Arlington Million

Arlington Million is a Thoroughbred horse race run annually at Arlington Park in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Arlington Park first opened in 1927 and held its first Arlington Million in 1981 which was won by the legendary horse John Henry.

The Arlington Million is a Grade I stakes race for horses three years old and up and is run over a distance of one and a quarter miles on the turf course. It is part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series and the winner automatically qualifies for the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

Arlington Million Day also features two other Grade I races, the Beverly D. Stakes for fillies and mares three years old and up run over a distance of one and three-sixteenths miles on the turf, and the Secretariat Stakes for three-year-olds.

Arkansas Derby

The Arkansas Derby is a Grade I horse race that is held annually in late April or early May at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It is open to three-year-old colts and geldings and is run over a distance of 1⅛ miles on dirt.

The Arkansas Derby offers a purse of $1 million and is the final major prep race for the Kentucky Derby. The Arkansas Derby was first run in 1936 and has been held at Oaklawn Park since 1957. Notable winners of the Arkansas Derby include Magnum Moon (2018), American Pharoah (2015), and Smarty Jones (2004).

Santa Anita Handicap

Santa Anita Park is a world-famous racetrack in Arcadia, California that has been hosting horse races since 1907. One of the most prestigious events held at Santa Anita Park is the Santa Anita Handicap, commonly referred to as “The Big ‘Cap”.

First run in 1935, the Santa Anita Handicap is a Grade 1 thoroughbred horse race for horses aged three and up. It is contested on Santa Anita’s main track over a distance of 1¼ miles (2 kilometers) and offers a purse of $1 million.

The Santa Anita Handicap is considered one of the most important races in the United States and attracts some of the best racing talents from around the world. Past winners include some of the most iconic horses including Justify, John Henry, and Seabiscuit.

The Pacific Classic Stakes

The Pacific Classic Stakes is a horse race that is held annually at the Del Mar Racetrack in California. It is open to thoroughbreds that are three years old or older, and it is run over a distance of 1¼ miles on dirt.

The Pacific Classic Stakes offers a purse of $1 million, making it one of the richest horse races in the United States. The race was first run in 1991, and it has been won by some of the greatest thoroughbreds in history, including Cigar, Pleasantly Perfect, and Zenyatta.

The Pacific Classic Stakes is truly a classic race, and it is always an exciting event on the horse racing calendar.

Haskell Invitational Stakes

The Haskell Invitational Stakes is a grade one horse race held annually at Monmouth Park Racetrack in New Jersey. The Haskell is open to three-year-old horses and is run at a distance of 1 1/8 miles on dirt.

It offers a purse of $1 million and is considered to be one of the premier races for three-year-olds in North America. The Haskell was first run in 1968 and has been won by some of the most legendary horses in history, including Rachel Alexandra, Skip Away, and American Pharoah. The Haskell Invitational Stakes is truly a race for the ages.

Picture of a race horse with rear leg wraps.

Kentucky Oaks

The Kentucky Oaks is a horse race that is held annually in Louisville, Kentucky. The race is open to three-year-old fillies, and it is run over a distance of one and a half miles.

The Kentucky Oaks is held on the Friday before the Kentucky Derby, making it one of the most important races for fillies on the Thoroughbred racing calendar.

In addition to being a major stop on the road to the Kentucky Derby, the Kentucky Oaks also carries a significant purse, which provides an incentive for owners and trainers to target the race with their best fillies. As a result, the Kentucky Oaks always attracts a deep and competitive field of entrants.

All-American Futurity

The All-American Futurity is the richest and most prestigious quarter horse race in the world. Held annually at Ruidoso Downs Racetrack in New Mexico, the All-American Futurity is a race for two-year-old Quarter Horses.

The race is run at a distance of 440 yards, and the purse is worth over $3 million. The All-American Futurity is the culmination of a series of races known as the All-American Futurity Futurity trials, which are held at racetracks across the United States.

The top ten finishers in the trials earn a spot in the All-American Futurity final. The All-American Futurity is truly a national event, and it continues to attract some of the worlds fastest horses.