Horse Racing in the US

Horse racing is one of the most popular sports in the United States and it’s also one of the most historic. Many of the top meetings date back to the 19th century and are among the oldest races in the world.

History and tradition are important to many racegoers, but there is much more to enjoy from a day at the races.

The Thrill of the Chase

Horse racing is a great social occasion for those who attend. The sport is fast paced and thrilling with man and animal in harmony as they look to negotiate the track. It’s great entertainment, and recent years have seen a new element introduced to horse racing in the United States.

Since the US Supreme Court overturned an earlier ruling back in 2018, it’s been possible to place bets on horse racing and other sports. Not all states have opened up to sports betting as yet, but it’s now possible to find horse racing betting odds in many parts of the country.

Whether you’re looking to place a bet, or you simply want to enjoy the atmosphere of a day at the races, here are some of America’s best locations.

Churchill Downs

Of the many venues hosting horse races around America, Churchill Downs is up there as the most iconic. It’s based in Louisville, Kentucky, and the course is home to the Kentucky Derby.

It may be fair to say that only a handful of US races enjoy global recognition, and the Kentucky Derby is the most famous of them all. First run in 1875, this is a sprint race for three-year-old thoroughbreds and it is more commonly known as the fastest two minutes in sport.

As well as the Derby, Churchill Downs is home to other important races including the Kentucky Oaks, and the Clark Handicap. It is America’s most familiar racecourse, but it’s not the only top class venue here.

Santa Anita Park

This is another important location in the story of US horse racing. Santa Anita Park is located in Arcadia, California, and it was opened in 1934. It is a regular host of the Breeders Cup series, while many other Group One races take place here on an annual basis.

Santa Anita Park provides a permanent home to the Santa Anita Handicap and the Santa Anita Derby, two of the most highly-anticipated events on the United States’ horse racing calendar. While those events, together with the Breeders Cup World Championship, are the focal point of racing on this circuit, there are many other meetings to enjoy at Santa Anita throughout the year.

Admission may even be free for some of the smaller meetings, so this is a great starting point for anyone new to horse racing.

Belmont Park

Anyone based on the East Side of the US should target Belmont Park for a day at the races. This is New York’s Premier race track, and it also provides one of the rotating homes for the Breeders Cup World Championship.

The course was opened in May 1905 and, with its current capacity of 100,000, this is one of the biggest sporting facilities in the city. Belmont Park is home to many important races on the US schedules, but the biggest of these is the Belmont Stakes.

First run in 1867, the Belmont Stakes forms part of the prestigious Triple Crown. Other notable races to be hosted here include the Belmont Oaks, the Belmont Derby and the Vosburgh Stakes.

Pimlico Race Course

Along with the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes, the Preakness Stakes provides the third leg of that Triple Crown. The location for the Preakness Stakes is Pimlico Racecourse which is located in Baltimore, Maryland.

Pimlico first opened its doors in October 1870, with the Preakness Stakes following three years later. It’s one of the most historic sports facilities in the US, but the course and its buildings have seen extensive renovation, in order to keep up with modern horse racing.

In the present day, the course capacity is 98,983, so this is another vast complex that can host major events. Along with the Preakness Stakes, Pimlico is also home to the Dixie Stakes and the Pimlico Special.

Del Mar

We go back to California now for another top class horse racing facility. Del Mar forms part of a multi-sports complex that also covers a wide range of motorsport. As for the racecourse, this was opened in 1937, so it’s one of the newer locations for the sport.

While Del Mar may not feature as a home for the US’ major races, a number of important meetings are held here. These include the Pacific Classic, the Del Mar Oaks and the Bing Crosby Stakes.

These may be the most important horse racing locations in the country, but there are venues right across the United States. Nothing beats a day at the races, and any of these courses will offer a thrilling occasion.

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