The blossoming of springtime rosebuds ushers in Kentucky’s Run for the Roses at the historic Churchill Downs in Louisville and the first leg of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing — an annual event each spring since 1875.
Though the Triple Crown is the most famous racing series in the U.S., the tradition of thoroughbred racing dates back to 1665. Today, 32 states host live horse racing throughout the year. The Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, and the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York make up the three-part racing series.
Events such as the Cheltenham Festival in the United Kingdom – which takes place every March – are the highlight of the racing calendar but as an all-year sport there is always going to be a race to bet on and online betting makes it easier.
The Triple Crown series takes place throughout May and June each year. To secure the Triple Crown champion title, a 3-year-old horse must win all three “jewels” in the series. To date, only 12 horses have won the series, including the world-famous racer Secretariat, who still holds the record for the fastest time on the Kentucky Derby track at 1 minute 59.4 seconds.
The Triple Crown title was formally proclaimed in December 1950 at the annual awards dinner of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations in New York and retroactively awarded to Sir Barton, the first horse to win all three races (1919). The title was then given to subsequent pre-1950 winners at following annual dinners of the organization.
Efforts to cluster races along the lines of the British Triple Crown began after the American Civil War. In 1875 Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr. — the founder of Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby — tried to promote a Triple Crown centered around his Derby. At the turn of the 20th century, race organizers in New York focused on three contests that took place in that state. These efforts failed owing to provincialism among the racing entities, with each one insisting that its own events were preeminent. In fact, it was a long time before the socialites of the Eastern states, who largely controlled the sport, would even allow their horses to run in the “West” at Churchill Downs. It was this stubborn attitude, along with a belief that the Derby was raced too early in the year — before young three-year-old horses had fully matured — that impelled owner Samuel Riddle to keep the great Man o’ War out of the Kentucky Derby in 1920, thereby denying him a probable Triple Crown.
The Breeders’ Cup event is held in late October or early November at different race tracks every year. It receives less attention than the Triple Crown series from the general public but is of great importance in determining the American Horse of the Year and annual Eclipse Award divisional winners. It is normally held at a different track every year, though some racetracks have held back-to-back renewals. It currently consists of thirteen races held over two days with total prize-money of $28 million.
In 1665, the first racetrack was constructed on Long Island. It is the oldest Thoroughbred race in North America. The American Stud Book was started in 1868, prompting the beginning of organized horse racing in the United States. There were 314 tracks operating in the United States by 1890, and in 1894, the American Jockey Club was formed.
Belmont Park is part of the western edge of the Hempstead Plains. Its mile-and-a-half main track is the largest dirt Thoroughbred race course in the world, and it has the sport’s largest grandstand.
One of the latest major horse tracks opened in the United States was the Meadowlands Racetrack opened in 1977 for Thoroughbred racing. It is the home of the Meadowlands Cup. Other more recently opened tracks include Remington Park, Oklahoma City, opened in 1988, and Lone Star Park in the Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex, opened in 1997; the latter track hosted the prestigious Breeders’ Cup series of races in 2004.
The first record of quarter mile length races dated back to 1674 in Henrico County, Virginia. Each race consisted of only two horses and they raced down the village streets and lanes. The Quarter Horse received its name due to the length of the race. The races were indeed “a quarter” of a mile, or 400 meters. The breed of horse was developed so they could get off to a quick start and win the race. You will never miss the excitement of Quarter Horse Racing from Los Alamitos, Lone Star, and other areas where the world’s best athletes compete.
The Pleasanton Fairgrounds Racetrack at the Alameda County Fairgrounds is the oldest remaining horse racing track in America, dating back to 1858, when it was founded by the sons of the Spaniard Don Agustin Bernal.
Thoroughbred horse racing in the United States has its own Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York. The Hall of Fame honors remarkable horses, jockeys, owners, and trainers.