Major Horse Racing Events | Races, Meets, Carnivals

Major Horse Racing Events

Several horse racing events draw the attention of more and more people every year. These spectacular events are usually group 1 Thoroughbred races open to racing horses that are 3 years of age or older.

Top American horse racing events are visited each year by tens of thousands of spectators and watched by millions. The hype for these events starts months in advance with advanced ticket sales, booking accommodations and getting all of the pre horse racing information available including all of the past horse racing results for the competitors in the races.

Kentucky Derby - The first leg of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing is America's most attended horse racing event. Said to be "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports". The Kentucky derby is the pinnacle of horse racing and is run the first Saturday in May.

Kentucky Oaks - The $1 million Kentucky Oaks is a premiere race for Thoroughbred three-year-old fillies at Churchill Downs, the female counterpart to the Kentucky Derby. The 1 1/8-mile event is offered the Friday before the Kentucky Derby, which takes place on the first Saturday in May every year.

Preakness Stakes - Run the third Saturday in May the Preakness Stakes is the second leg of the Triple Crown. Held at Pimlico Race Course, the second oldest US horse racing track only behind Saratoga Race Track.

Belmont Stakes - The third and final leg of the Triple Crown held 3 weeks after the Preakness Stakes. The Belmont Stakes is run at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. It is a 1.5 mile race course open to 3 year old Thoroughbreds. Traditionally called "The Test of Champions" as it is a longer track and often tests the durability of the top race horses.

Breeders' Cup - A series of predominately Grade 1 races and designed to be a year-end championship of the top race horses. The Breeders' Cup is fourth largest attendance draw of all major horse racing events only behind The Kentucky Derby, The Preakness Stakes and The Belmont Stakes. Held at Santa Anita Park in Los Angeles, California and run in November.

Pegasus World Cup Invitaional - The Pegasus World Cup has become the world's most lucrative Thoroughbred horse races. The grade I race features a field of 12 contenders for a buy-in of $1 million per starter.

Learn More:
Top 25 Richest Horse Races in the United States
Major Horse Racing Events Around the World

Thoroughbred horse racing events

Live Racing Events and Big Race Days

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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A

Arlington Million
Arkansas Derby

B

Belmont Stakes
Blue Grass Stakes
Breeders' Cup
Breeders' Futurity Stakes

C

Champagne Stakes
Cheltenham Festival
Cattleya Sho (JPN)

D

Dubai Racing Carnival
Dubai World Cup

E

El Camino Real Derby

F

Florida Derby
FrontRunner Stakes

G

H

Haskell Invitational
Holy Bull Stakes
Hyacinth Stakes (JPN)

I

Iroquois Stakes

J

K

Kentucky Derby
Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes
Kentucky Oaks

L

Louisiana Derby

M

Melbourne Cup

N

O

P

Pacific Classic
Pegasus World Cup Invitational
Preakness Stakes

Q

Queen's Plate

R

Remsen Stakes
Risen Star Stakes
Robert B. Lewis
Royal Ascot

S

Sam F. Davis Stakes
Santa Anita Derby

T

Travers Stakes

U

UAE Derby

V

W

Withers Stakes
Wood Memorial Stakes

X

Y

Z

 

Top 25 Richest Horse Races in the United States

The 2017 addition of the $12 Million Pegasus World Cup Invitational made it the richest horse race in the world. And in 2018 it is even bigger with a $16 Million purse. The Breeders’ Cup races are among the richest in America over two days in November, and we’ve added to the list to provide the 25 richest horse races in the United States.
  

  1. The Pegasus World Cup Invitational - $16 Million. Founded by race track operator Frank Stronach of the Stronach Group, The Pegasus became the world’s richest race at $12 million when it was introduced and first run at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Florida on Jan. 28, 2017. The race will be run annually the end of January, and the 2018 Pegasus at Gulfstream will have a purse of $16 million with $4 million contributed by the Stronach Group. The race is run at 1 1/8 miles and a total of 12 shareholders each pay $1 million to purchase a position in the gate for a then unspecified horse. The shareholder then has the right to race, lease, contract or share a starter, or sell their place in the gate.
  2. Breeders’ Cup Classic – $6 Million. The Breeders’ Cup World Championship is the year-end event to crown its champions, and the 1 ¼ mile Classic is its richest race and defining event of the international racing season.
  3. Breeders’ Cup Turf - $4 Million. The top talent from Europe and North American race at 1 ½ miles on the grass.
  4. Kentucky Derby - $2 Million. The most recognizable race in the world, the 1 ¼ mile Derby is run at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky on the first Saturday in May for the first leg if the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred racing.
  5. Breeders’ Cup Mile – $2 Million. The world’s best grass milers compete in this race around two turns on the turf course.  
  6. Breeders’ Cup Juvenile - $2 Million. The richest race for 2-year-olds is run at 1 1/16 miles and is often a preview for some of the stars of the Triple Crown races for the following year. 
  7. Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf - $2 Million. The world’s best female grass horses compete in the 1 1/8 mile race on the turf.
  8. Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies - $2 Million. Champion 2-year-old filly is crowned after winning the 1 1/16 mile race.
  9. Breeders’ Cup Distaff - $2 Million. The best female dirt horses race 1 1/8 miles on the main track.
  10. Preakness Stakes - $1.5 Million. The second leg of the Triple Crown run at 1 3/16 miles at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland.
  11. Belmont Stakes - $1.5 Million. The ‘Test of the Champion’ is the oldest of the Triple Crown races since 1867 and is contested at 1.5 miles over the Belmont Park main track in Elmont, NY.
  12. Breeders’ Cup Sprint - $1.5 Million. The world’s fastest Thoroughbred’s compete in the Twinspires Sprint, reaching a speed of nearly 40 miles per hour in the stretch of the three-quarters of a mile race.
  13. Travers Stakes - $1.25 Million. The summer meet at historic Saratoga Race Course includes more than 65 stakes races. The 1 ¼ mile Travers at the end of August is the most prized and the oldest Thoroughbred horse race in the U.S.
  14. The Whitney Stakes - $1.2 Million. The Whitney is contested at 1 1/8 miles during the Saratoga Summer Meet in in August. The winner qualifies for a starting spot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic through the BC Challenge Series.
  15. Sword Dancer Invitational - $1 Million. Contested on the same day as the Travers at Saratoga, the 1 1/8 mile turf race is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series qualifier with the winner gaining a spot in the starting gate to the Breeders’ Cup Turf.  
  16. Pacific Classic - $1 Million. The Grade I race at 1 ¼ miles at Del Mar Racecourse is a Breeder’s Cup Challenge Series qualifying race. The winner gains entry to the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
  17. The Haskell Invitational - $1 Million. The Grade I race at Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport, New Jersey attracts come of the best 3-year-olds in training the end of July. The 1 1/8 mile event is also a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series race with the winner earning a fees-paid trip to the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
  18. Santa Anita Derby - $1 Million. A Kentucky Derby prep race run at 1 1/8 miles in April at Santa Anita Park.
  19. Arlington Million - $1 Million. Illinois’ richest day of racing in August and its biggest race contested over 1 1/4 miles at Arlington Park. The winner earns a trip to the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
  20. Arkansas Derby - $1 Million. A Kentucky Derby prep race run at 1 1/8 miles in April at Oaklawn Park.
  21. Florida Derby - $1 Million. A Kentucky Derby prep race run at 1 1/8 miles in April at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Florida.
  22. Louisiana Derby - $1 Million. A Kentucky Derby prep race run at 1 1/8 miles in April at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, La.
  23. Blue Grass Stakes - $1 Million. A Kentucky Derby prep race run at 1 1/8 miles in April at Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington, Kentucky.
  24. Delta Downs Jackpot - $1 Million. Run in November at Delta Downs Racetrack in Vinton, La., the 1 1/16 mile race for 2-year-olds identifies some of the early Kentucky Derby contenders for the following year.
  25. The remaining Breeders’ Cup races are all for $1 Million purse – Turf Sprint (5 furlongs), Filly & Mare Sprint (7 furlongs), Juvenile Turf (1 mile), Dirt Mile (1 mile), Fillies Turf (1 mile).

The Breeders’ Cup World Championships are held in early November at a selected racetrack in the United States. Some of the most important stakes races in the country became Breeders’ Cup prep races and part of the ‘Win and You’re In’ Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series. The Breeders’ Cup event draws the biggest crowds, purses and interest over two days of racing with International race horses also a big part of the competition. A total of 13 races with purses totaling more than $26 Million make it the richest 2 days of racing.

 

Major Horse Racing Events Around the World

American racing is fascinated with the Triple Crown Races – The Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. The lead up to the Derby itself with all the qualifying races and then the 20 horses that often enter the Run for the Roses is one of the biggest and most anticipated racing events of the year. The Breeders’ Cup in November is the greatest 2 days of racing with the best horses in the world. But there are many other major events around the world. Let’s take a look.

  • Prix de l’Arc de Trimphe – Paris, France. One of the world’s richest races at 4 Million Euro’s ($4.7 million U.S.) thanks to its affiliation with the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club, the ‘Arc’ is one of Europe’s biggest horse racing events.
  • Dubai World Cup - Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The new Meydan Racecourse opened in 2010 and hosts the 2nd richest horse race in the world with a purse of $10 Million U.S.
  • The Royal Ascot – Ascot, England. The week-long racing series with 16 group races has been a British tradition since 1711.
  • Melbourne Cup – Melbourne, Australia. A tradition dating back to 1861 that is considered by many to be the greatest 3200 meter (2 miles) horse race in the world. It’s also one of the richest at $6.1 Million U.S.
  • The Everest – Sydney, Australia. The Everest is the newest horse race in Australia and also the richest turf race in the world with a total of $10 million in prize money. The 1200 meter race (5 furlongs) makes its debut Oct. 14, 2017 at Royal Randwich Racecourse. The richest race horse owners have sold out the event by ponying up $600,000 to secure one of the 12 starting slots. The jewel of the Sydney Spring Racing Carnival is open to both Australian-trained and international horses, and the Everest is expected to become one of the most recognized and revered racing events held anywhere in the world.
  • The Grand National – Aintree, England. The National Hunt is a steeplechase horse race that features a pack of horses competing along a 4-mile course studded with 30 fences. The event is spread out over three days.  
  • Nakayama Grand Jump – Funabashi, Japan. Originated in 1999, Japanese horse-racing enthusiasts eagerly await the annual steeplechase race at the Nakayama Grand Jump. Fans watch the horses deftly navigate the curved dirt and turf track, jumping over obstacles along the way.

Back in the United States, the Triple Crown races for the best 3-year-olds draw major media attraction, fan interest and wagering.

  • The Kentucky Derby is perhaps the most recognizable race in the world. Over 150,000 fans flock to Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky on the first Saturday in May for the first leg if the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred racing. The 1 ¼ mile race has been a historic tradition since 1875, and has earned the reputation as the ‘Greatest 2 Minutes in Sports’. All trainers, jockeys, owners and everyone affiliated with a prized Kentucky Derby runner dreams of winning the Kentucky Derby. And the winning horse is draped in an elaborate garland made up of hundreds of red roses in the winner’s circle. The race is the richest on the Triple Crown trail with a $2 million prize pool, and the spectacular event includes many festivities known for mint juleps and fancy hats.     
  • The Preakness Stakes is the second leg of the Triple Crown run at 1 3/16 miles and in the modern era is held the third Saturday in May just two weeks after the Derby at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. The first running was in 1871 and the winner is presented with the hefty Woodlawn Vase and the horse is draped in a delicate blanket made from Black-Eyed Susan’s.
  • The Belmont Stakes is the final leg of the Triple Crown held in mid-June at Belmont Park in Elmont, NY. The oldest of the Triple Crown races since 1867, it’s also the most demanding run at 1 ½ miles and recognized as the ‘Test of the Champion’.
  • Travers Stakes – The summer at historic Saratoga Race Course includes more than 65 stakes races during the Summer Meet, and the richest and most prized is the Travers ($1.25 million) at the end of August. The Travers is the oldest Thoroughbred horse race in the U.S., and historic Saratoga is one of the oldest race tracks that opened in 1863.
  • The Pegasus World Cup became the world’s richest race at $12 million when it was introduced and first run at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Florida on Jan. 28, 2017. The 2018 Pegasus will have a purse of $16 million with $4 million contributed by its founder, the Stronach Group. The race is run at 1 1/8 miles and has gained instant popularity and media coverage due to its structure to enter and enormous prize pool. A total of 12 shareholders each pay $1 million to purchase a position in the gate for a then unspecified horse. The shareholder then has the right to race, lease, contract or share a starter, or sell their place in the gate.

 
Finally, the Breeders’ Cup World Championships are held in early November at selected racetracks across the United States. Some of the most important stakes races in the country became Breeders’ Cup prep races and part of the ‘Win and You’re In’ Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series. The Breeders’ Cup event draws the biggest crowds, purses and interest over two days of racing with International race horses also a big part of the competition. A total of 13 races with purses from $1-6 Million totaling more than $26 million in prize money make it the richest 2 days of racing.