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Author: Lindsay Griffin
In this post, we will check out the top 3 best horse racing tracks in the USA.
There are many ways to enjoy a day at the racetrack.
You can sit in a private box, donning fashionable clothing and rubbing elbows with society’s elite, sipping expensive cocktails with people whose pedigrees and careers are as illustrious as those of the horses they own.
You can hang close to the betting windows and the walking rings, watching each inch of horseflesh that passes by, trying to find a hot tip that will lead to financial success.
You can party in the infield, downing beers with hundreds of your newest best friends, as you jam out to some hot music and maybe, occasionally, think about a horse.
There are many choices.
Each racetrack in the United States is as varied as the populations that pass through them. Some tracks are designed to appeal to one population over another or to draw attention to the local flavors or geographic appeal of each location.
However, each of the tracks listed below stands out from the others and offers events, treats, and horse races that make them special. Let’s take a look at three of the best racetracks in the United States.
1 Saratoga (Saratoga Springs, New York)
Every year since 1863, Saratoga Race Course opens its doors, and time seems to stop.
Originally built to draw the upper class to Saratoga Springs for rest and relaxation in the midst of the American Civil War, the Saratoga Meet has come to be sort of an American take on Royal Ascot: a showcase of equine talent steeped in old-fashioned tradition, as well as a bright debut for Thoroughbred racing’s stars of tomorrow.
Saratoga is still a popular destination for those with money and power, as exemplified by its special events scheduled each year.
Music lovers enjoy the Purdy’s Summer Concert Stage, where a total of 40 live acts will perform over the course of this summer’s meet. The Taste NY Pavilion also offers guests a tour of New York’s best in the food and beverage industry.
The races at Saratoga are top-notch as well, with Grade I races in each major racing division. Two-year-olds start to make their mark in the Hopeful Stakes (males) or the Spinaway Stakes (females). Sprinters can contest the Forego Stakes (open) or the Ballerina Stakes (females).
Route horses can contest the Sword Dancer Stakes (open) or the Diana Stakes (females) on grass, the Whitney Stakes (open), or the Personal Ensign Stakes (females) on dirt.
The crown jewels of the meet, however, are a pair of races for three-year-olds: the Alabama Stakes for fillies, and the open Travers Stakes. Each race nearly instantly vaults the winner toward the top of their respective division.
2 Keeneland (Lexington, Kentucky)
This race track is as well known for its illustrious yearling sales as it is for top-level racing. Certainly, some of the most dramatic moments in horse racing in the 1980s occurred within its sales pavilion, as bidding wars between the Irish Coolmore faction and the Darley faction from Dubai caused yearling prices to skyrocket.
The competition hit a fever pitch in 1985 when a yearling half-brother to Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew was sold for an eye-popping $13.1 million.
Keeneland, which meets in the spring and the fall, is also home to a research and reference library that received a Special Eclipse Award in 2002, recognizing its effort to preserve the history of the Thoroughbred.
Young fans delight in Keeneland as well; the Keeneland Kids Club serves to draw the next generation into the Sport of Kings.
Two of Keeneland’s highest-regarded races serve as key prep races for the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks.
The Grade I Ashland Stakes for three-year-old fillies is traditionally run on the spring meet’s opening day, and the Grade I Blue Grass Stakes for three-year-olds is run the next day.
Highlights of the fall meet include the Grade I Spinster Stakes for older mares, the Darley Alcibiades Stakes for two-year-old fillies, and the Grade I Breeder’s Futurity for two-year-old males.
3 Churchill Downs (Louisville, Kentucky)
Less than an hour down the road from Keeneland is another famous track, Churchill Downs. If you like to bet on morning line odds for the 2023 Kentucky Derby, which happens on the 6th of May, this is the one for you.
Although the track was first known as the Louisville Jockey Club, it came to be named for John and Henry Churchill, who bequeathed the 80 acres of land for the track’s construction to their nephew, Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr.
Clark opened his track in 1875, but it wasn’t until 1895 that the grandstand gained its key architectural feature: the iconic Twin Spires.
When the track held its first meet, Clark had three headlining races to feature, all of which are still run today. One, the Clark Handicap, was for older horses.
The other two were modeled and named after famed English stakes races for three-year-olds. These races, which became known as the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby, shaped the Thoroughbred- and the state of Kentucky- forever.
However, there are more races at Churchill Downs than just that famous triad. Churchill Downs, like Keeneland, holds meets in both in the fall and the spring.
The other Grade I events held at Churchill Downs include the La Troienne Stakes for older fillies and mares, the Churchill Downs Stakes for older sprinters, and the Turf Classic Stakes for older grass runners.
In addition, upon the closing of Arlington Park, two prestigious Grade I grass races were moved to Churchill Downs: the Beverly D Stakes (for fillies and mares) and the Arlington Million.
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