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Horse Racing Events
Horse racing dates back as far as horses were first ridden by men. It was a celebrated event in ancient civilizations, such as Greece, Syria, Egypt and Babylon. Today, horse racing is one of the most prestigious and popular events. A single race can attract thousands of people on the stands, and millions more watching at home.
So indulge in this long-standing tradition, and place your wagers at these legendary horse races around the globe!
Top 10 Largest Horse Race Purses
Every single horse race – whether it’s big or small – has a purse. A race purse refers to the amount of money that the owners will get paid at the end of each event. The division of the amount is usually based on how their horses finish.
The horse finishing in first place will typically get 60% of the total purse. The second place horse gets 20%, and the third place horse usually gets 10%, while the fourth gets 5%. The remaining horses divide the remainder of the purse among each other.
When it comes to the most prestigious horse races, the race purse can amount to millions of dollars. Here are the top ten races with the greatest race purses. These ten major racing events– and other important horse races – will be discussed further below.
- Dubai World Cup – US$ 10 Million Purse
- Melbourne Cup – US$ 5.65 Million Purse
- Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – US$ 5.4 Million Purse
- Breeders Cup Classic – US$ 5 Million Purse
- Dubai Duty Free Stakes – US$ 5 Million Purse
- Breeders Cup Turf – US$ 3 Million Purse
- Breeders Cup Distaff – US$ 2 Million Purse
- Breeders Cup Sprint – US$ 2 Million Purse
- Kentucky Derby – US$ 2 Million Purse
- The Grand National – US$ 1.6 Million Purse
Major American Horse Races
There are three horse races in the United States that are particularly famous. These are the Kentucky Derby, the Belmont Stakes and the Preakness Stakes. These three races are held annually, and make up the US Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing. Winning all three of these races is one of the greatest possible achievements for any Thoroughbred racehorse. Another famous race in the US is the Breeders’ Cup, one of the richest in the world.
Kentucky Derby (Louisville, Kentucky)
The first leg of the US Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing is the Kentucky Derby. Every year in May, more than 150,000 go to the Churchill Downs to watch this celebrated event. The Kentucky Derby has been annually held since 1875.
The race has a distance of a 1 to 1.25 miles, and lasts no more than two minutes. Because of this, it is often referred to as the “Greatest 2 Minutes in Sports”. Once a horse crosses the finish line, this grand winner is draped in an elaborate garland made up of hundreds of red roses!
The Preakness Stakes (Baltimore, Maryland)
The second leg of the US Triple Crown is the Preakness Stakes, which also takes place in the month of May – just a week after the Kentucky Derby. The race takes place at the Pimlico Racecourse. Instead of a garland of roses, the winner in this race is presented a silver trophy (specifically crafted by Tiffany) and a blanket made of Black-Eyed Susans (Maryland’s state flower).
Belmont Stakes (Elmont, New York)
After the first two races, the last leg of the Triple Crown is the Belmont Stakes, annually held in the month of June. The Belmont Stakes is the oldest of the three races, dating back to 1867. This is the longest and most challenging race, at 1 to 1.5 miles around the track.
Secretariat is the most famous horse associated with the Triple Crown. He earned his reputation as one of the best racehorses in history when he finished the 1973 Belmont Stakes with a world record speed of 31 lengths ahead of his competition.
Breeders Cup World Championships
The Breeders Cup World Championships is an annual series of thoroughbred horse races that make up the Breeders' Cup. This event lasts for two days, and is one of the greatest purses in horse racing.
The Breeders Cup Sprint is a short race that is less than a mile long.
The Breeders Cup Distaff (which was formerly called the Breeders Cup Ladies’ Classic) is a race for mares and fillies who are at least three-years-old. The Breeders Cup Distaff is one of the most prominent races in the world among female horses.
The Breeders Cup Turf is a US$3 million race that is held on a turf, instead of the usual dirt track. This means that the horses compete on a grass surface. The track is 1.5 miles long.
The main event of the series is the Breeders Cup Classic. It is extremely exclusive, since five of the fourteen slots in this race is guaranteed to the winners of other popular races, including the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Pacific Classic, and Awesome Again Stakes.
Major Horse Races in the UK and Ireland
Horse racing is a sport that is celebrated all over the world, but there’s nothing quite like racing in UK and Ireland. There are thousands of races that take place in the UK and Ireland every year. There are a handful of these races that attract an especially high level of attention, and some of these are more than 200 years old.
The Grand National
The Grand National is the most important National Hunt race in the UK, and is the most valuable jump race in Europe. It was first held in 1839 and is now annually held at Aintree in Liverpool.
The Grand National attracts huge audiences in countries all over the globe. The race is around four miles and three furlongs in length. It can take around ten minutes for some horses to finish. It’s a long and challenging course involving hurdles that are larger than regular fences.
The British Classics
There are five prestigious flat races in the UK that are collectively called “The British Classics”. Race horses only have one chance in their lifetime to compete at the Classics, because all five races are restricted to three-year-olds only.
Here are the five races of The British Classics:
- 2,000 Guineas Stakes
- Epsom Derby
- Leger Stakes
- 1,000 Guineas Stakes
- Epsom Oaks
The 2,000 Guineas Stakes, the Epsom Derby and the St. Leger Stakes make up the English Triple Crown. The English Triple Crown is a great feat for any horse, and it has not been won since the 1970s.
The 2,000 Guineas Stakes has a history that goes back more than 200 years. It is annually run in late April or early May, not long after the flat season has started. The St. Leger Stakes is one of the oldest horse races in the world, and it takes place annually at the Doncaster Racecourse in England.
Irish Triple Crown
Just like the English Triple Crown, the Irish Triple Crown is made up of three races: the Irish 2,000 Guineas, the Irish Derby, and the Irish St. Leger. These three races have large prize pools. All of the three races are run in the Curragh Racecourse in County Kildare.
Only two horses have won the Irish Triple Crown. The last one won back in 1945.
Irish Grand National
The Irish Grand National began in 1870, and takes place annually at Fairyhouse Racecourse on Easter Monday. In this competition, horses run over a distance of three miles and five furlongs, with a total of 24 fences.
Major Horse Races in Australia
Australia holds a number of huge horse races every year. The most popular one is the Melbourne Cup, which is called the “race that stops a nation” in Australia. The Melbourne Cup receives international attention, and has one of the biggest prize pool in Thoroughbred Racing. Other important races are the Australian Derby and the Australian Cup.
The Melbourne Cup is a tradition that dates back to 1861. It is widely considered as the greatest 3,200-meter horse race in the world. If you are going for the first time, you will see that the attendees usually come in customary hats. There is even a competition called “Fashions on the Field”, which celebrates the best-dressed men and women, with celebrity judges and high-end sponsors. According to the horse racing events calendar, the big event is held on the first Tuesday in November, and the other races are spread out over the week.
Other Major Horse Races in the World
Dubai World Cup Night
Dubai World Cup Night was first launched in 1996, and hosts the richest race purse in world wide horse racing events. The Dubai World Cup – the main event of the series – holds a first place prize of US$10 million. Another popular race in the series is the Dubai Duty Free Stakes. The name comes from its sponsor, Dubai Duty Free. All of the races in Dubai World Cup Night have a combined purse total of US$27.25 million. You can watch the races from the swanky grandstand, or in one of the rooms at the track-side hotel.
Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, commonly known as the Arc, is one of Europe’s biggest events held at the Longchamp Racecourse in Paris. Thousands of elegant spectators fill the grandstand of the racecourse on the first Sunday of October. It has been held almost every year since 1920. Today, it has one of the biggest race purses in the world, thanks to the sponsorship of Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club. You can go to the racecourse early to enjoy the champagne and live jazz music. There are also pony rides available for kids to enjoy.