major horse races to bet on

Horse racing is a wonderful sport and synonymous with betting. Thoroughbreds are simply majestic animals and there is no better sight than seeing your chosen horse hit the wire first.

Here we cover some of the most famous horse races in the USA, the most prestigious events, and all the major horse races from elsewhere around the world.

Triple Crown Races

The Triple Crown is the jewel of horse racing in America.  Three events, for sophomores only, take place usually in quick succession every year over different race distances.

THE BELMONT STAKES

Staged in 2020 as the first leg of the series over 1 1/8 miles.  Ordinarily, this race is the last leg of the Triple Crown, run over a grueling 1½ miles in June meaning Belmont Stakes horses need stamina in their breeding as well as an outstanding quality.

kentucky derby horses

THE KENTUCKY DERBY

One of the biggest races in the world. Kentucky Derby horses are prepped to peak first Saturday in May, though in 2020 they’re forced to wait until September! The Derby is staged over 1¼ miles and remains one of the best horse races to bet on.

Preakness stakes online betting

THE PREAKNESS STAKES

The traditional middle leg in mid-May and the last leg in 2020 in October.  Preakness Stakes horses need quick recovery skills given that they have usually competed in the Derby too, though for this they go down to 1 3/16 miles.  All three Triple Crown races are Grade I events.

The Road to the Kentucky Derby

As the Kentucky Derby is so popular and would be oversubscribed, a points system is needed to finalize participation.

Derby prep races are placed on the official Road to the Kentucky Derby.  The top four finishers in races on the road are given points, ranging from 10-4-2-1 to 100-40-20-10 with the top 20 on the leaderboard come go-time guaranteed a place in the field.

Big horse races such as the Florida Derby, Santa Anita Derby, and the Arkansas Derby form part of the series.  European and Japanese Roads to the Kentucky Derby exist also to increase the possibility of international participation.

THE LOUISIANA DERBY

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THE FLORIDA DERBY

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THE ARKANSAS DERBY

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Major US Horse Races

Horse racing in the States goes right back to 1665, with even some of the major modern US horse races such as the Kentucky Derby dating back to the 1800s.

US horse races such as the Breeders’ Cup Classic are of huge importance on the world scale.  Runners from around the world, particularly Europe, come to compete in the major Breeders’ Cup events every November to compliment the best of what American horse racing has to offer.

The sport began in England and still holds huge prestige in Europe.  But despite this, some of the most famous horse races around are now staged in the USA.  Events like the Travers Stakes, Arlington Million, and the Pacific Classic are among the best horse races to bet on.

breeders cup entries

THE BREEDERS’ CUP

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PEGASUS WORLD CUP

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ARLINGTON MILLION

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Biggest Horse Races in the World

Horse racing in one form or another has been around since at least antiquity.  In fact, even all of today’s thoroughbreds can have their lineage traced back to just three horses.  The Byerley Turk, the Darley Arabian, and the Godolphin Arabian were all imported into England in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Even before this happened, racing existed in England from at least the 1100s.  As the epicenter of the sport, England and surrounding territories have consistently provided some of the most famous horse races in the world.

UK & Ireland

Racing across the UK and Ireland remains huge.  Horse racing is the second most watched and second most bet sport in Great Britain.  In fact, the Grand National at Aintree is the UK’s most gambled on event of the year.

The biggest flat race in the territory is undoubtedly The Derby at Epsom Downs.  This is the race that is so important its name has been replicated many times over, including by the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs and many others besides.

The UK and Ireland are famous for hosting full festivals rather than simply one-off race days. The Punchestown Festival, Galway Festival, Cheltenham Festival, Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood are just a few examples of some of the huge race meets over 4+ days that feature many Grade I events.

grand national

THE GRAND NATIONAL

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Cheltenham Betting Picks

THE CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL

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royal ascot betting

THE ROYAL ASCOT

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Saudi Arabia & UAE

Under the stewardship of the Maktoum family, especially Sheikh Mohammed, UAE has prospered in horse racing. The family owns thousands of horses around the world and have set up great events of their own in Dubai.

The Dubai World Cup was once the richest of all the big horse races.  The Dubai Carnival in March, during which the race takes place, contains a number of races worth millions of dollars.

The emerging nation in the region though is Saudi Arabia.  The all-new Saudi Cup is now the most valuable race in the world.  It sits between the Pegasus World Cup and Dubai World Cup, giving the best horses a chance to win all.

dubai world cup contenders

THE DUBAI WORLD CUP

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saudi cup entries

THE SAUDI CUP

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France

Just over the English Channel is another horse racing hotbed – France! Of all the big horse races taking place in Europe, the undisputed no.1 is held here.  The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is a 1½-mile race on the famed turf at Longchamp in Paris, taking place on the first Sunday in October every year.

Despite France hosting a bunch of top-level races throughout the year, this is the one all trainers want to win.  The Arc often brings together the best that Britain, Ireland, France, and even Japan has to offer.

Japan

While a powerful racing territory, Japan is still emerging as a true force.  The Japanese love to travel their horses, but given that their biggest race the Grade I Japan Cup is run in November they are rarely seen at the Breeders’ Cup.

Australia

Racing has been taking place down under since the 1700s.  While the history is rich, it’s all about the modern day and one of the best horse races to bet on right now is undoubtedly November’s Melbourne Cup.

The Melbourne Cup is a stamina-sapping two-mile cavalry charge at Flemington Racecourse.  It is worth millions of dollars and stands near the top of the list of major horse races worldwide.

What Are the Different Types of Races?

Horse racing is divided up into many categories. From ages to distances, sexes to grades.  Horse racing is a sport that needs to keep mixing it up and segregating where necessary to ensure everyone has a shot.

In thoroughbred racing alone, horses can run on dirt tracks, turf or even synthetic surfaces. In the UK, Ireland, and France they can take part in ‘jumps’ racing rather than run only on the flat, meaning longer distances and facing either fences or hurdles as obstacles.

Juveniles, those aged two, face only each other.  Some races like the Triple Crown events are for three-year-olds only.  From the middle of a horse’s three-year-old year though, they can begin competing against older animals.

Naturally, just like human athletes, horses are trained for different distances too.  The sprinters may run over five or six furlongs while some prefer a mile.  Most of the major horse races in the States are run on or near the 1¼ mile mark.

One last thing to do is to grade the horses.  It would be unfair to run a 60-rated horse against a 120-rated one.  So, Grade I is the highest you can get, followed by Grade II and then Grade III.  Other non-graded ‘stakes’ races are important too, though there are lots of non-stakes races for the lesser types.

What Are the Different Racehorse Breeds?

In the States especially, breeds such as Standardbred, Quarter Horse, and Appaloosa are still popular within racing.  Arabian breeds are gaining popularity too, however, by far and away, it’s the thoroughbred that remains the world’s favorite.

In this sphere, it’s important to note some of the differences within the breed. For male horses, those aged 0-4 are called ‘colts’.  Should they face the cruelest cut of all, they are then referred to as ‘geldings’.  Those remaining ungelded aged 5+ are simply known as ‘horses’.

For the females, these are known as ‘fillies’ from 0-4 and then ‘mares’ thereafter.  When they hit the breeding sheds, the males are known as ‘stallions’ or ‘sires’ while the females are known as ‘broodmares’.