Taking Advantage of the Horse Racing Calendar
Right from January onwards, the major horse races are coming up thick and fast. Online horse betting reaches a peak in May when the Kentucky Derby takes place, but there is so much more to look forward to than that.
For amateurs and pros alike, the key thing to know is when the biggest horse events take place and where. We’ll give you all of the latest dates and places to make sure you know, in advance, how America’s horse racing schedule shapes up for 2021.
- Sham Stakes – January 2, 2021
- Santa Ynez Stakes – January 3, 2021
- La Cañada Stakes – January 9, 2021
- Pegasus World Cup Turf – January 23, 2021
In January, be prepared for the Santa Ynez Stakes a major prep race for the upcoming US Triple Tiara.
Although staged over just one mile, the Sham at Santa Anita is our first real Kentucky Derby prep race. More is to follow on that, while in January Florida hosts the first big Grade I races of the year.
The Pegasus World Cup and its turf equivalent take place at Gulfstream Park and will feature some of the top performers from 2020, along with some big European contenders too.
|Sham Stakes||Santa Anita||3yo, 1 mile, Grade III|
|Santa Ynez Stakes||Santa Anita||3yo fillies, 7/8 mile, Grade II|
|La Cañada Stakes||Santa Anita||4yo+ fillies, 1 1/16 miles, Grade III|
|Pegasus World Cup||Gulfstream Park||4yo+, 1 1/8 miles, Grade I|
|Pegasus World Cup Turf||Gulfstream Park||4yo+, 1 3/16 miles (turf), Grade I|
In January, be prepared for the Santa Ynez Stakes a major prep race for the upcoming US Triple Tiara.
The horse racing calendar may start off slow but there are gallops to come.
- Sam F. Davis Stakes – February 6, 2021
- Risen Star Stakes – February 13, 2021
- El Camino Real Derby – February 13, 2021
- Fountain of Youth Stakes – February 27, 2021
The early part of the year is understandably taken up mostly by the Road to the Kentucky Derby. The El Camino, Sam F. Davis, and the Risen Star are all recognized as major Derby preps.
The big one this month though is the Fountain of Youth in Florida. The form of Florida preps in recent years has been first class, making this race a key trial for Kentucky.
|Sam F. Davis Stakes||Tampa Bay Downs||3yo colts, 1 1/6 miles, Grade III|
|Risen Star Stakes||Fairgrounds||3yo colts, 1 1/8 miles, Grade II|
|El Camino Real Derby||Golden Gate Fields||3yo, 1 1/8 miles, Listed Race|
|Fountain of Youth Stakes||Gulfstream Park||3yo colts, 1 1/16 miles, Grade II|
- Gotham Stakes – March 6, 2021
- Frank E. Kilroe Mile – March 6, 2021
- San Felipe Stakes – March 6, 2021
- Tampa Bay Derby – March 6, 2021
- Beholder Mile – March 13, 2021
- Florida Derby – March 27, 2021
- Santana Mile – March 28, 2021
The next horse race of major note in the horse racing calendar is the Florida Derby. Another top race at Gulfstream, it’s perhaps the strongest race ahead of the Kentucky Derby and a Grade I itself.
The Beholder Mile is another race run at the top level, while further Derby preps keep coming around the country as trainers in every major state look to get their best colts primed for a trip to Churchill Downs in early May.
|Gotham Stakes||Aqueduct||3yo colts, 1 mile, Grade III|
|Frank E. Kilroe Mile||Santa Anita||4yo+, 1m (turf), Grade I|
|San Felipe Stakes||Santa Anita||3yo, 1 1/16 miles, Grade II|
|Tampa Bay Derby||Tampa Bay Downs||3yo, 1 1/16 miles, Grade II|
|Beholder Mile Stakes||Santa Anita||3yo+ fillies, 1 mile, Grade I|
|Florida Derby||Gulfstream Park||3yo colts, 1 1/8 miles, Grade I|
|Santana Mile||Santa Anita||4yo+, 1 mile, Listed Race|
- Bluegrass Stakes – April 1, 2021
- Wood Memorial Stakes – April 3, 2021
- Santa Anita Derby – April 3, 2021
- Ashland Stakes – April 3, 2021
- Carter Handicap – April 9, 2021
- Maker’s 46 Mile – April 9, 2021
- Arkansas Derby – April 10, 2021
- Apple Blossom Handicap – April 17, 2021
- Kentucky Oaks – April 30, 2021
We reach a key point in the horse racing schedule now, just a month out from the Kentucky Derby. The Bluegrass, the Wood Memorial, and especially the Santa Anita Derby are all important in this regard, but there’s more.
The Arkansas Derby and the Apple Blossom are huge, while the Kentucky Oaks gets the Derby meet going.
|Bluegrass Stakes||Keeneland||3yo, 1 1/8 miles, Grade II|
|Wood Memorial Stakes||Aqueduct||3yo colts, 1 1/8 miles, Grade II|
|Santa Anita Derby||Santa Anita||3yo colts, 1 1/8 miles, Grade I|
|Ashland Stakes||Keeneland||3yo fillies, 1 1/16 miles, Grade I|
|Carter Handicap||Belmont Park||3yo+, 7/8 mile, Grade I|
|Maker’s 46 Mile||Keeneland||4yo+, 1 mile (turf), Grade I|
|Arkansas Derby||Oaklawn Park||3yo, 1 1/8 miles, Grade I|
|Apple Blossom Handicap||Oaklawn Park||4yo+ fillies, 1 1/16 miles, Grade I|
|Kentucky Oaks||Churchill Downs||3yo fillies, 1 1/8 miles, Grade I|
May: Kentucky Derby & Preakness
- Churchill Downs Stakes – May 1, 2021
- Kentucky Derby – May 1, 2021
- Man o’ War Stakes – May 8, 2021
- Preakness Stakes – May 15, 2021
- Gamely Stakes – May 24, 2021
Let’s face it, for many, the entire 2021 horse racing calendar comes down to May – it’s Kentucky Derby time! The first race in the Triple Crown series, the $3million Derby is simply huge and will be watched by millions around the world.
Kentucky Derby betting is among the fiercest anywhere on the globe, make no mistake. But the fun in May doesn’t end there. The Preakness Stakes comes up real quick and forms the second leg of the Triple Crown, while the older turf horses are out at the top level in the Man o’ War over in New York.
|Churchill Downs Stakes||Churchill Downs||4yo+, 7/8 mile, GI|
|Kentucky Derby||Churchill Downs||3yo, 1¼ miles, GI|
|Man o’ War Stakes||Belmont Park||4yo+, 1 3/8 miles (turf), GI|
|Preakness Stakes||Pimlico||3yo, 1 3/16 miles, GI|
|Gamely Stakes||Santa Anita||3yo+ fillies, 1 1/8 miles (turf), GI|
- Acorn Stakes – June 5, 2021
- Belmont Stakes – June 5, 2021
- Metropolitan Handicap – June 5, 2021
- Jaipur Invitational – June 5, 2021
- Hollywood Gold Cup – June 5, 2021
All the biggest action in June comes at the start of the month as Belmont Park takes over. The Met Mile is a huge event but the card is focused around the Belmont Stakes.
The Belmont is the final leg of the Triple Crown and may yet be the race in which we see the 14th equine legend crowned, emulating Secretariat and Justify. Here’s hoping!
It’s important to keep an eye on the Jaipur too. This is a major sprint that has a big bearing on the betting for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in November.
|Acorn Stakes||Belmont Park||3yo fillies, 1 mile, GI|
|Belmont Stakes||Belmont Park||3yo, 1½ miles, GI|
|Metropolitan Handicap||Belmont Park||3yo+, 1m, GI (handicap)|
|Jaipur Invitational Stakes||Belmont Park||3yo+, ¾ mile, GI|
|Hollywood Gold Cup||Santa Anita||3yo+, 1¼ miles, GI|
- Belmont Derby – July 3, 2021
- Belmont Oaks – July 3, 2021
- Diana Stakes – July 10, 2021
- Haskell Stakes – July 17, 2021
The major horse races continue in New York in July during Belmont’s amazing summer meet. Their Derby and Oaks allow the best turf sophomores their chance to shine, with more GI action over at Saratoga.
The biggy however is at Monmouth. The Haskell Stakes is the biggest three-year-old race outside of the Triple Crown. This event can go a long way to deciding the Breeders’ Cup Classic favorite and the Horse of the Year.
|Belmont Derby||Belmont Park||3yo colts, 1¼ miles (turf) GI|
|Belmont Oaks||Belmont Park||3yo fillies, 1¼ miles (turf), GI|
|Diana Stakes||Saratoga||3yo+ fillies, 1 1/8 miles, GI|
|Haskell Stakes||Monmouth||3yo, 1 1/8 miles, GI (invitation only)|
- Whitney Handicap – August 7, 2021
- Arlington Million – August 7, 2021
- Beverly D. Stakes – August 7, 2021
- Pacific Classic – August 14, 2021
- Travers Stakes – August 21, 2021
- Sword Dancer Stakes – August 21, 2021
It’s Chicago’s chance to shine in August, while the best turf horses are also given their opportunity. The Arlington Million is the big attraction at the start of the month, bringing over the pond the best that Europe has to offer.
The overseas horses may even stick around for the Sword Dancer too, a supporting race for the Travers Stakes. The Travers is another huge sophomore race, while the generations can clash in the Pacific Classic.
We’re really at a peak time in the horse racing calendar now. Whatever horse wins the Pacific Classic may well be favored at the Breeders’ Cup with the Classic being the next horse race targeted by major barns.
|Whitney Handicap||Saratoga||3yo+, 1 1/8 miles, GI|
|Arlington Million||Arlington Park||3yo+, 1¼ miles (turf), GI|
|Beverly D. Stakes||Arlington Park||3yo+ fillies, 1 3/16 miles (turf), GI|
|Pacific Classic||Del Mar||3yo+, 1¼ miles, GI|
|Travers Stakes||Saratoga||3yo, 1¼ miles, GI|
|Sword Dancer Stakes||Saratoga||4yo+, 1½ miles (turf), GI|
- Pennsylvania Derby – September 18, 2021
- Cotillion Stakes – September 18, 2021
- American Pharoah Stakes – September 25, 2021
Major horse events are run all over the country, and in September it’s Parx’s turn to hit the headlines.
Their Pennsylvania Derby is a Grade I event primarily for the colts, but the fillies aren’t to be left out. The Cotillion is the girls’ equivalent, while the juveniles now start to come to the fore too.
The American Pharoah Stakes out in California is the first truly big two-year-old race with Bob Baffert expected to dominate.
|Pennsylvania Derby||Parx||3yo, 1 1/8 miles, GI|
|Cotillion Stakes||Parx||3yo fillies, 1 3/16 miles, GI|
|American Pharoah Stakes||Santa Anita||2yo, 1 1/16 miles, GI|
October: Preakness Stakes
- Shadwell Turf Mile – October 2, 2021
- Breeders’ Futurity Stakes – October 2, 2021
- Champagne Stakes – October 2, 2021
- Jockey Club Gold Cup – October 9, 2021
We’re on Eastern Time in October as Kentucky and New York take center stage. Keeneland hosts the Shadwell Turf Mile and a major juvenile race, the Breeders’ Futurity while there is more to come from the 2yo’s at Belmont.
The Champagne Stakes over a mile of Big Sandy could provide the favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Also on the card is the Jockey Club Gold Cup, a major prep for the Classic.
|Shadwell Turf Mile||Keeneland||3yo+, 1 mile (turf), GI|
|Breeders’ Futurity Stakes||Keeneland||2yo, 1 1/16 miles, GI|
|Champagne Stakes||Belmont Park||2yo, 1 mile, GI|
|Jockey Club Gold Cup||Belmont Park||3yo+, 1¼ miles, GI|
November: Breeders’ Cup
- Breeders’ Cup – November 5 & 6, 2021
- Clark Handicap – November 26, 2021
This is what it has all been building up to. There are 14 big horse races coming up at the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar, an awesome sight to behold.
The Breeders’ Cup is worth some $30million and is the meet at which live streaming of horse racing reaches its peak, being hosted in California once again.
From the Juvenile to the Classic, the Sprint to the Turf, races are for horses from two years old and over from 5½ furlongs right up to a mile-and-a-half.
|Race Track||Event||Type of racing|
|Aqueduct Race track||Cigar Mile Handicap||Thorough-bred flat|
|Various||Breeder’s Cup||All types|
- Cigar Mile – December 4, 2021
- La Brea Stakes – December 26, 2021
Our horse racing calendar is rounded off nicely by the Cigar Mile and the La Brea, two more big Grade I races.
|Cigar Mile||Aqueduct||3yo+, 1 mile, GI (handicap)|
|La Brea Stakes||Santa Anita||3yo fillies, 7/8 mile, GI|
Around the World
These are just the US events to put down in your diary. However, horse racing is a very international sport and ambitious punters will want to put wagers on major races around the globe.
Europe, the Middle East, and Australia hold world renown horse racing events that cannot be left out of any calendar.
You can also visit this vibrant list from the Telegraph, for further insights.
France has a very prominent racing culture and a series of beautiful race tracks across the country.
Its most famous is Longchamps. The Parisian track hosts around half of the group one races in France.
This course also has a deep history as it has been in existence since 1857
- Prix de l’Atlantique – April
- Grand Prix de Deauville- August
- Prix de l’Etoile- September
- Weekend du Quatar- Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
The UK is renown for the Grand National which is one of the most famous steeple chase races in the world.
It is held at the Aintree racecourse near Liverpool and has been around since 1836.
- Royal Ascot, UK- June
- The Grand National– April
- Cheltenham Festival– March
- Triple Crown of Hurdling: Fighting Fifth Hurdle, Christmas Hurdle and The Champion Hurdle
The prominence of horse racing is Dubai is fairly recent and yet this city has caught up at a miraculously fast pace.
The World Cup Night offers an impressive purse of $27.3 million
- World Cup Night – March
Australia racing also draws an impressive audience.
For the Melbourne cup, up to 120,000 people can be expected to watch at the race course.
- The Melbourne Cup- November
In South Africa, the Queen Plate’s is an incredibly prestigious event which attracts Cape Town’s high society in their finest outfits.
As with Ascot, the dress code is very strict.
- L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate- January
For more ways to navigate the world of sports betting, check out our essential tips here!
Horse betting sites often allow users to watch live races after a small deposit.
TVG2 has most live horse races in America. ESPN often shows races as well.