Horse Racing Calendar: Must-See Events in 2020

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In the USA, horse racing is a very prominent form of entertainment attracting anyone from A-list celebrities to humble betting fanatics.

While names like The Breeder’s cup and The Kentucky Derby usually ring a bell, there are also a host of other notable racing events which re-occur on US tracks every year.

Horse races are major sporting events that could lead to very big wins if you hedge your bets right. Use horse racing picks and predictions to optimize your bet slip.

To help you navigate through the year, Bet o'clock has put together a list of the very top races in US track calendar. Save the dates!


  • The Sham Stakes – January 4, 2020
  • Santa Ynez Stakes – January 5, 2020
  • La Canada Stakes – January 11, 2020
  • Pegasus World Cup – January 25, 2020

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 Davies Stakes – February 8, 2020
  • El Camino Real Derby – February 15, 2020
  • La Coneja Stakes – February 16, 2020

Although it is no longer set at the original Bays Meadow racetrack, the El Camino Real Derby is great winter prep for the Kentucky Derby later on in the season

Race TrackEventType of racing
    Tampa Bay DownsSam F Davies StakesThorough-bred flat
    Golden Gates FieldEl Camino Real Derby Thorough-bred flat
    Sunland Park Racetrack La Coneja Stakes Thorough-bred flat


  • Tampa Bay Derby – March 7, 2020
  • Beholder Stakes – March 14, 2020
  • The Louisiana Derby – March 21, 2020
  • The Rebel Stakes – March 14, 2020
  • Florida Derby – March 28, 2020
  • Santa Ana Stakes – March 28, 2020
  • Santana Mile – March 29, 2020

With the Rebel Stakes as an important precursor to the upcoming US Triple Crown Series and the Lousiana Derby offering a purse of 1M, there is no time to get bored.

Many of the more “low key” March stakes, including the Sham and the San Miguel, are prep races for Santa Anita so watch out, they are deceptively important.

Race TrackEventType of racing
Tampa Bay DownsTampa Bay Derby Thorough-bred flat
Santa Anita ParkBeholder Stakes Thorough-bred flat
Fair Grounds Race TrackThe Louisiana DerbyThorough-bred flat
Oaklawn Parks Race TrackThe Rebel Stakes Thorough-bred flat
Gulfstream ParkFlorida Derby (sometimes early April) Thorough-bred flat
 Santa Anita ParkSanta Ana StakesThorough-bred flat
 Santa Anita ParkSantana MileThorough-bred flat


  • Ashland Stakes – April 4, 2020
  • Santa Anita Derby – April 4, 2020
  • Wood Memorial Stakes – April 4, 2020
  • Carter Handicap – April 4, 2020
  • Arkansas Derby – April 11, 2020
  • Apple Blossom Handicap – April 18, 2020
  • Jenny Wiley Stakes – April 11, 2020
  • Champagne Stakes – April 18, 2020
  • Queens Cup Steeple Chase – April 25, 2020

April also packs a punch with the Santa Anita Derby, horses who have won this competition have gone on to take away big prizes at the Kentucky Derby.

All the races listed below are grade 1; 4 months into the calendar year , the really serious competitions begin.

Race TrackEventType of racing
Oaklawn ParkApple Blossom Handicap Thorough-bred flat
Santa Anita ParkArkansas Derby Thorough-bred flat
Keeneland RacecourseAshland StakesThorough-bred flat
Aqueduct RacetrackCarter Handicap Thorough-bred flat
Keeneland RacecourseJenny Wiley Stakes Thorough-bred flat
Santa Anita ParkSanta Anita DerbyThorough-bred
Aqueduct RacetrackWood Memorial StakesThorough-bred flat
BrooklandwoodQueens Cup Steeple ChaseThorough-bred Steeple Chase


  • Kentucky Oaks – May 2, 2020
  • Kentucky Derby – May 2, 2020
  • Virginia Gold Cup – May 2, 2020
  • Iroquois Steeple Chase – May 9, 2020
  • Runhappy Stakes – May 10, 2020
  • Preakness Stakes – May 16, 2020
  • Matt Winn Stakes – May 23

After a few months of prep for the Kentucky Derby, May delivers. However, this year it has been postponed to September.

This first stage of the US Triple Crown series is a world-renowned event with international media coverage and it is quickly followed by the second stage: The Preakness Stakes

Additionally, the Kentucky Oaks is a prestigious Filly race that takes place a short while before.


  • Belmont Stakes – June 20, 2020
  • Acorn Stakes – June 6, 2020
  • Stephen Foster Handicap – June 14, 2020
  • Santa Anita Derby – June 6
  • Desert Code Stakes – June 7, 2020

June keeps up the pace with the third and final stage of the US Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes and the first stage of the US Triple Tiara, the Acorn stakes.

The latter race kicks off the most prominent filly contest of the year.


  • Lost Alamitos Derby – July 4
  • Indiana Derby – TBA
  • Blue Grass Stakes – July TBA
  • Haskell Stakes – July 18

The Hollywood Cup is another great grade 1 stakes race to look forward to. Since 2005 it is back to its original handicap weight format.

The Whitney Handicap is also a summer highlight as winners automatically qualify for the Breeder's Cup Classic. 

Moreover, keep your eyes peeled for the Coaching Club American Oaks which is the second leg of the US Triple Tiara.


  • Shared Belief Stakes – TBA
  • Pegasus Stakes – August 15, 2020
  • Alabama Stakes – August 22, 2020
  • Ballerina Stakes – August 24, 2020
  • Pacific Classic Stakes – August 22, 2020
  • Saratoga Special – August 9, 2020
  • Woodward Stakes – August 31, 2020
  • Arlington Million – August 15, 2020
  • Travers Stakes – August 29, 2020
  • Sword Dancer Stakes (BC) – August 24, 2020
  • Del Mar Debutante – August, 2020

With two major Filly and Mares races as well as prominent races for older horses, August is a diverse and eventful month.

If you had to single out one event, it would have to be the Arlington Million, this is not only the first ever race to attain a million dollar purse it is also part of the famous Breeder's cup challenge series.

The final stage of the Triple Tiara, The Alabama Stakes, also comes a close second.

Race TrackEventType of racing
Saratoga Race CourseAlabama Stakes Thorough-bred flat
Saratoga Race CourseBallerina Stakes  Thorough-bred flat (fillies and mares)
Del Mar Race CoursePacific Classic Stakes Thorough-bred flat
Saratoga Race CourseSaratoga SpecialThorough-bred flat (fillies and mares)
Belmont ParkWoodward StakesThorough-bred flat (older horses)
Arlington HeightsArlington MillionThorough-bred flat
Saratoga RacecourseTravers StakesThorough-bred flat (older horses)
Saratoga RacecourseSword Dancer (BC)4 & up Turf
Del Mar Race TrackDel Mar Debutante Thorough-bred flat (2 year old fillies)

September: The Kentucky Derby

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  • The Kentucky Derby – September 5 (Read about Kentucky Derby Picks.)
  • The Kentucky Oaks – September 4
  • Las Virgenes Stakes – September 2, 2020
  • Santa Anita Handicap – September 3, 2020
  • Vosburgh Stakes – September 28, 2020
  • Fall Yearlings – September 25, 2020

Ladies First in September. This month is filled to the brim with Grade I filly races.

The Vosburgh stakes is also a very notable event as it is part of the Breeder's Cup challenge series, winners automatically qualify for the Breeder's Cup Sprint

Race TrackEventType of racing
 Santa Anita ParkLas Virgenes StakesThorough-bred flat
 Santa Anita ParkSanta Anita HandicapThorough-bred flat
Belmont ParkVosburgh StakesThorough-bred flat (sprint)
Santa Anita ParksFall Yearlings Thorough-bred flat (fillies)

October: Preakness Stakes

  • Preakness Stakes – October 3, 2020
  • Alcibiades Stakes – October 3, 2020
  • Beldame Stakes – October 4, 2020
  • Breeder's Futurity Stakes – October 4, 2020
  • First Lady Stakes – October 4, 2020
  • Frizette Stakes – October 5, 2020
  • Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes – October 11, 2020

The arrival of winter certainly does not slow down the activity on the track.

Both the Champagne Stakes and its female counterpart, the Frizette Stakes as well as the Breeder's Futurity are all part of the Breeder's Cup Challenge series.

The illustrious Breeder's Cup is usually spread over several days at the end of the month and the audience is packed with people from across the globe.

Some would say that this is the most important month in the US horse racing calendar

Race TrackEventType of racing
Keeneland Race CourseAlcibiades Stakes Thorough-bred flat (Fillies)
Belmont ParkBeldame Stakes  Thorough-bred flat (fillies and mares)
Belmont ParkFrizette Stakes Thorough-bred flat (fillies)
Keeneland Race CourseBreeder's Futurity StakesThorough-bred flat (younger horses)
Keeneland Race CourseQueen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup StakesThorough-bred flat (fillies)
Keeneland Race CourseFirst Lady StakesThorough-bred flat (fillies)

November: Breeders' Cup

  • Breeder's Cup – November 7, 2020
  • Cigar Mile Handicap – November 29, 2020

After the excitement of October, horse betters can take a breather until the end of November.

However,don't forget to mark the Cigar Mile Handicap in your calendar.

Race TrackEventType of racing
Aqueduct Race trackCigar Mile Handicap Thorough-bred flat
VariousBreeder's CupAll types


  • Malibu Stakes – December 26, 2020

Last but not least the Malibu Stakes features the very best horses, most of which also compete in the Breeder's Cup

Race TrackEventType of racing
Aqueduct Race trackMalibu Stakes Thorough-bred flat

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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.


Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe

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


Royal-Ascot-2009, The Prince of Wales and his wife

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


L'Ormarins Queen's Plate

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

South Africa

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!

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TVG is the leading horse racing betting operator in the US. It has the widest coverage of horse races and some regular offers and bonuses. Currently, new customers can enjoy a 50% bonus on your first deposit and get up to $250. T&Cs apply, 18/21+.


What is a good way to live stream horse races?

Horse betting sites often allow users to watch live races after a small deposit.

What is the best horse racing TV channel?

TVG2 has most live horse races in America. ESPN often shows races as well.

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