Horse Racing Calendar 2020

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As 2020 begins, so does the anticipation for all of the horse racing that will be taking place in the year ahead. It is a great form of entertainment at key points throughout the year, with many fans going through withdrawals during the very short off-season. They will be marking their horse racing calendars in anticipation of the best and next horse races returning once again.

Horse Racing Calendar Uses

Of course, the highlights of a horse racing calendar are the major races like the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes, and the Breeder’s Cup to look forward to, but there are many other major horse races, events, and meetings that take place during the course of the season. This goes for both racing in the United States and on a global level. 

Whether you are a horse racing enthusiast from a pure sporting point of view, in it for the entertainment factor or you are a bettor, this up to date horse racing calendar will set you up nicely for the 2020 season so you can see when the next horse race is on. 

horse racing calendar for 2020


  • The Sham Stakes – January 4, 2020
  • Santa Ynez Stakes – January 5, 2020
  • La Canada Stakes – January 11, 2020
  • Pegasus World Cup – January 25, 2020

With the start of the new year in January, it can take a while for things to get going again in the horse racing world as you can see in this horse racing calendar. 

The Sham Stakes is usually the first big race in the calendar to start off the new season. This is used as a prep race for the Kentucky Derby, allowing the owners of three-year-olds to see where their horses are at in terms of their progress and ability to battle it out potentially in bigger races later on in the season. 

The next race that is significant in the January horse racing schedule is the Santa Ynez Stakes. It is good preparation for the big races coming up in the Triple Tiara of thoroughbred racing (Mother Goose Stakes, Black-Eyed Susan Stakes and the Kentucky Oaks). 

The next big horse race is the Pegasus World Cup, which running for the 4th time since its inauguration in 2017. Although the purse is considerably smaller than the other years, there is still a lot of interest in this race. Horses will be running without Lasix medication for the first time.

RaceRacetrackRace Type
The Sham StakesSanta Anita ParkThoroughbred Flat
Santa Ynez StakesSanta Anita ParkThoroughbred Flat
La Canada StakesSanta Anita ParkThoroughbred Flat
Pegasus World CupGulfstream ParkThoroughbred Flat


  • Sam F Davies Stakes – February 8, 2020
  • El Camino Real Derby – February 15, 2020
  • La Coneja Stakes – February 16, 2020

The standout race that takes place in February is the El Camino Real Derby. This is held each year at Golden Gate Fields in Albany, California. This is the main preparation race in northern California for the big horse races coming up on the calendar, such as the Kentucky Derby. It has been on the racing calendar since 1982, having been hosted at the Bay Meadows track up until this facility closed its doors in August 2008. While the race was degraded in 2018, it is still an exciting and popular prep race.

RaceRacetrackRace Type
Sam F Davies StakesTampa Bay DownsThoroughbred Flat
El Camino Real DerbyGolden Gates FieldThoroughbred Flat
La Coneja StakesSunland Park RacetrackThoroughbred Flat


  • Tampa Bay Derby – March 7, 2020
  • Beholder Stakes – March 14, 2020
  • Louisiana Derby – March 21, 2020
  • The Rebel Stakes – March 14, 2020
  • Santa Ana Stakes – March 28, 2020
  • Florida Derby – March 28, 2020
  • Dubai World Cup – March 28, 2020

The upcoming horse race, Louisiana Derby, may be a grade II race but it comes with a whole pile of prestige. It takes place in New Orleans on an annual basis and it has a purse of $1 million, so it is certainly worth the while of trainers entering their horses to this event. It also acts as a significant preparation race for those looking to take part in the Kentucky Derby.

RaceRacetrackRace Type
Tampa Bay DerbyTampa Bay DownsThoroughbred Flat
Beholder StakesSanta Anita ParkThoroughbred Flat
Louisiana DerbyFair Grounds Race TrackThoroughbred Flat
The Rebel StakesOaklawn Parks Race TrackThoroughbred Flat
Santa Ana StakesSanta Anita ParkThoroughbred Flat
Florida DerbyGulfstream ParkThoroughbred Flat


  • Ashland Stakes – April 4, 2020
  • Santa Anita Derby – April 4, 2020
  • Wood Memorial Stakes – April 4, 2020
  • Carter Handicap – April 4, 2020
  • Jenny Wiley Stakes – April 11, 2020
  • Arkansas Derby – April 11, 2020
  • Apple Blossom Handicap – April 18, 2020
  • Champagne Stakes – April 18, 2020
  • Queen’s Cup Steeplechase – April 25, 2020

The Santa Anita Derby is a grade I race that takes place in Arcadia, California each season. This dirt race has a $1 million purse and it is one of the last races as part of preparing for the Kentucky Derby. Therefore, there is usually a stellar field in this race, with hoses getting one last run in a lot of cases before the big one in May. 

RaceRacetrackRace Type
Ashland StakesKeeneland RacecourseThoroughbred Flat
Santa Anita DerbySanta Anita ParkThoroughbred
Wood Memorial StakesAqueduct RacetrackThoroughbred Flat
Carter HandicapAqueduct RacetrackThoroughbred Flat
Jenny Wiley StakesKeeneland RacecourseThoroughbred Flat
Arkansas DerbySanta Anita ParkThoroughbred Flat
Apple Blossom HandicapOaklawn ParkThoroughbred Flat
Queen’s Cup SteeplechaseBrooklandwoodThoroughbred Steeplechase


  • Virginia Gold Cup – May 2, 2020
  • Iroquois Steeplechase – May 9, 2020
  • Runhappy Stakes – May 10, 2020
  • Preakness Stakes – May 16, 2020

The Derby is usually the most attended horse race each year in the country, with there also being a massive amount of Kentucky Derby betting taking place. It is also part of the American Triple Crown series of horse events along with the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. There is a purse of $3 million for the Kentucky Derby, with the winner getting in the region of $1.86 million. This year, the Kentucky Derby is postponed to September 5, while the upcoming horse races, Preakness Stakes will take place on October 3.

RaceRacetrackRace Type
Kentucky OaksChurchill DownsThoroughbred Flat
Kentucky DerbyChurchill DownsThoroughbred Flat
Virginia Gold CupGreat MeadowThoroughbred Steeplechase
Iroquois SteeplechasePercy Warner ParkThoroughbred Steeplechase
Runhappy StakesBelmont ParkThoroughbred Flat
Preakness StakesPimlico RacecourseThoroughbred Flat


  • Belmont Stakes – June 20, 2020
  • Acorn Stakes – June 6, 2020
  • Desert Code Stakes – June 7, 2020
  • Stephen Foster Handicap – June 14, 2020

The next big race is the Belmont Stakes, which is usually the final race in the American Triple Crown series of races. Naturally, it is going to get a lot of attention for this reason alone. It takes place on the ‘Championship Track’ as nearly every major horse racing champion in history has at one stage or another competed in this ground. This year, however, it has become the first leg of the The Triple Crown as the Kentucky Derby has been moved to September.

It is known as one of the best racetracks in the entire country. The Belmont Stakes is dubbed the ‘Test of the Champion’ as it is such a tough race. It is one of the most-watched races of the year, so don’t miss out.

The Acorn Stakes also takes place at Belmont Park and is another major grade I race. It has a distance of a single mile and is the first race in the US Triple Tiara series. The other races as part of this series are the Coaching Club American Oaks and the Alabama Stakes. 

RaceRacetrackRace Type
Belmont StakesBelmont ParkThoroughbred Flat
Acorn StakesBelmont ParkThoroughbred Flat (Filly)
Stephen Foster HandicapChurchill DownsThoroughbred Flat


  • Lost Alamitos Derby – July 4
  • Stars & Stripes Racing Festival – July 6
  • Indiana Derby – July 8
  • Blue Grass Stakes – July 11
  • Haskell Stakes – July 18
  • Coaching Club American Oaks – July 18

The Coaching Club American Oaks is the second part of the Triple Tiara of Thoroughbred Racing in the United States. While it previously was a race that took place in Belmont Park, since 2020 it has been held in the Saratoga Race Course. This Grade I race has a purse of $500,000 and has been a leading race since its first iteration way back in 1917.

RaceRacetrackRace Type
Lost Alamitos DerbyLos Alamitos, CaliforniaThoroughbred Dirt
Stars & Stripes Racing FestivalBelmont ParkThoroughbred Flat
Indiana DerbyIndiana GrandDirt
Blue Grass Stakes Keeneland RacecourseDirt
Haskell StakesMonmouth ParkFlat
Coaching Club American OaksSaratoga Race CourseThoroughbred Flat (Filly)


  • Travers Stakes – August 8, 2020
  • Pegasus Stakes – August 15, 2020
  • Arlington Million – August 16, 2020
  • Alabama Stakes – August 15, 2020
  • Pacific Classic Stakes – August 22, 2020
  • Sword Dancer (BC) – August 29, 2020
  • Woodward Stakes – August 31, 2020

The Arlington Million is a grade I race that takes place each year in August in Illinois at the Arlington Park track. This was the first-ever race for thoroughbreds that had a purse worth $1 million. It is also one of the races that make up the Breeders Cup Challenge series. The race has changed names over the years depending on the sponsor. One of the most famous renewals of this event came in 1985 when the race took place just 25 days after one of the grandstands had burnt out after a massive fire.

The Alabama Stakes has been around since 1872 and is another grade I in the horse racing schedule that takes place on a dirt track over a mile and a quarter stretch. Its purse is $600,000 and it has been the third and final race in the American Triple Tiara of Thoroughbred Racing. It has one of the best and long-running histories of any races in the calendar each season. 

RaceRacetrackRace Type
Arlington MillionArlington HeightsThoroughbred Flat
Alabama StakesSaratoga Race CourseThoroughbred Flat
Pacific Classic StakesDel Mar Race CourseThoroughbred Flat
Sword DancerSaratoga Race Course4 & Up Turf
Travers StakesSaratoga Race CourseThoroughbred Flat
Woodward StakesBelmont ParkThoroughbred Flat


  • Kentucky Oaks – September 4, 2020
  • Kentucky Derby – September 5, 2020

The Kentucky Derby is the biggest race in the United States calendar each season. This prestigious race always takes place in Louisville, Kentucky and comes along with a great atmosphere for attendants. It has a lot of history and tradition associated with this race meeting. Although it usually takes place in May, this year it has been moved to September because of health & safety concerns.

The Kentucky Oaks always takes place the day before the Kentucky Derby, being a significant race in its own right. It is also a grade I race and is reserved for three-year-old thoroughbred fillies. The winner claims a top prize of $750,000 from a purse worth $1.25 million. 


  • Preakness Stakes – October 3, 2020
  • Alcibiades Stakes – October 3, 2020
  • Beldame Stakes – October 4, 2020
  • Breeder’s Futurity Stakes – October 4, 2020
  • First Lady Stakes – October 4, 2020
  • Frizette Stakes – October 5, 2020
  • Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes – October 11, 2020

In October, a lot of the bigger races are part of the Breeder’s Cup Challenge Series. This includes the likes of the Breeder’s Futurity, the Frizette Stakes and the next big horse race is Champagne Stakes. A lot of horse trainers put a massive amount of emphasis on performing well this month, with many deeming it the most important period of the entire calendar.

RaceRacetrackRace Type
Alcibiades StakesKeeneland Race CourseThoroughbred Flat (Filly)
Beldame StakesBelmont ParkThoroughbred Flat
Breeder’s Futurity StakesBelmont ParkThoroughbred Flat (Filly)
First Lady StakesKeeneland Race CourseThoroughbred Flat
Frizette StakesKeeneland Race CourseThoroughbred Flat (Filly)
Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup StakesKeeneland Race CourseThoroughbred Flat (Filly)


  • Breeder’s Cup – November 7, 2020
  • Cigar Mile Handicap – November 29, 2020

The Breeder’s Cup takes place every year in November and its location is also different each season. This series of major horse races take place over the course of two days, with all of the renewals except for one taking place in the United States. The only exception was in 1996 when it took place at Canada’s Woodbine Racetrack. 

The total purses for the event bypass the $30 million mark, with each race having a purse of at least $1 million and going u a high as $6 million. It is certainly a couple of days of racing that are not to be missed.

RaceRacetrackRace Type
Breeder’s CupKeeneland Race trackAll Types
Cigar Mile HandicapAqueduct Race trackThoroughbred Flat


  • Malibu Stakes – December 26, 2020

Despite it being the end of the calendar year, the Malibu Stakes race is always well-attended as it showcases many of the top horses that took part in the Breeder’s Cup the previous month. This is despite the purse being relatively small at $300,000. It was initially inaugurated in 1952 and has been a constant in the calendar almost every year ever since. 

RaceRacetrackRace Type
Malibu StakesAqueduct Race trackThoroughbred Flat
grand national
J Grand National Festival at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, northern England on April 14, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLIS

International Races

Of course, great horse racing is not just confined to the United States. All across the world each year there are some major horse races and festivals that take place, attracting tens of thousands of visitors and millions of eyes on the various media platforms. 


A lot of the best horses in the history of racing have come out of France and the nation has a long and storied tradition with racing. They have many spectacular race tracks dotted around the country, most notably Longchamps. Half of all of the grade I races in France take place on this track. It has been holding races since 1857, showcasing just how long the tradition of racing has been in the country. 

  • April – Prix de l’Atlantique
  • August – Grand Prix de Deauville
  • September – Prix de l’Etoile

United Kingdom

The UK is also steeped in horse racing. The most famous races in the horse racing calendar would be the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National. The Grand National is world-famous and has taken place since 1839 at the Aintree track which is close to Liverpool. 


Horse racing has only started to become popular in recent years in Dubai. However, it has put a lot of time and resources into developing some top-notch racing in the country. The main event each season in the country has to be the World Cup Night, which has a massive purse worth $27.3 million.


Horse racing is a popular sport in Australia, with tens of thousands of people regularly going to the leading racing festivals. At the Melbourne Cup, there is a crowd of about 120,000 people each and every year. 


As you can see, there is no shortage of quality in the horse racing calendar each year. Throughout all twelve months of the horse racing calendar, you will have some action to follow. This means that you do not have to be waiting months and months for the season to restart like with most other sports that take extended off-season breaks. You can always be ready to choose your online horse betting selections and use popular betting platform’s live-streaming capabilities to watch these races.

This horse racing calendar provides you with all the info you need to make sure you don’t miss out on any of these great races.

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