True lovers of equestrianism know that horse races make a huge part of it. It is something that can make or break a bloodline, and many a Thoroughbred has seen its fair share of tournaments and events that made its price skyrocket or plummet. The pedigree greatly affects the offers from bookmakers, as well. So, what are some of the most prestigious horse races?
Held once a year in, you’ve guessed it, Kentucky, this event is the grand finale of the Kentucky Derby Festival. The racetrack is Churchill Downs, and the Grade I stakes race lets Thoroughbreds face off against one another. What separates this race from other similar events is the fact that it is often called the Fastest Two Minutes in Sports. The track is 2 kilometers, or 1.25 miles, long.
For the champions among champions, it is but the first hurdle toward achieving the Triple Crown. The second and third stages of the Triple Crown are also on this list. They are the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.
This stage is held every May. Another name for the race is “The Run for the Black-Eyed Susans” because the theme of the blanket adorned by the winner is the pattern of yellow flowers that look like black-eyed Susan. It is interesting to point out that the flower representing its predecessor is the rose.
A curious fact about Preakness Stakes – the race is technically older than the Kentucky Derby. The first race was held two years before “The Run for the Roses”. It is also shorter – 1.9 km.
The last leg of the Triple Crown is also the longest of the three – 2.4 km. It is also represented by a flower, since the blanket that drapes the winner is covered with white carnations, making this race known as “The Run for Carnations”.
Belmont Stakes is the oldest of the races you can find in the Triple Crown. These three races made history when a Thoroughbred stallion named Secretariat won the first Triple Crown in over two decades.
The Grand National
This race is a little bit different from the rest you have seen on this list. First of all, it’s a steeplechase, a race where horses are expected to jump over obstacles like ditches and fences. It is also the most popular race of its kind, with fans naming its famous obstacles. If you are still skeptical, ask any equestrian about Becher’s Brook, the Chair, and the Canal Turn. By now you may have realized we are talking about the English Grand National, not to be confused with the American Grand National.
To compete, a horse must be at least seven years old, have a rating of over 120 issued by the British Horseracing Authority, and already have a few tops spots in a big 3-mile race. The only horse to ever win both the British and the American Grand National was Battleship, a Thoroughbred that is the progeny of the famous Man o’ War.
Last, but very far from least, on our list is the Breeder’s Cup. There are fourteen different races for different categories, depending on whether the horse is a stallion or a filly, as well as the type of the course horses are expected to run. The races have one thing in common, though – they are all Grade I Thoroughbred horse races. In other words, the best of the best compete.
The races shift their location every year, though it is almost certain that they will be held in the US. The only time the Breeder’s Cup was held somewhere else was in 1996 when it graced Canada with its presence.