Horse racing is a sport that has more professional events across the year than any other in the USA and is something that has established itself in popular culture in the country. The major events are the highlight of many people’s social calendar, while they pick up huge audiences on TV. Here is a look at four events in the sport that have helped horse racing and culture become intertwined in the USA.
The Belmont Stakes has been running since 1857, with the meet celebrating its 150 year anniversary this year. This race is known as the ‘test of the champion’. It is the third leg of the Triple Crown in the United Staten; often being the final hurdle for a champion three-year-old to overcome in order to establish greatness. A crowd of 120,129 was at the track in New York in 2004 to watch Smarty Jones just fall short of the Triple Crown, while an estimated 24 million tuned in the US to see this race on their television box.
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Since 1984, the Breeders’ Cup meeting has been considered as the world championship meeting in the sport. This event is special as the best of the USA take on the finest horses from Europe and around the world so it has a Ryder Cup feel to it. Many Americans look forward to this two-day meeting like no other and travel across the country to wherever it takes place. The course is rotated each year. In 2017, it was held at Del Mar in California, while in 2018, Churchill Downs will have the pleasure of hosting the meeting in Kentucky.
The Kentucky Derby is the opening leg of the Triple Crown in the US and it is known as ‘the most exciting two minutes in sports’. There are many traditions at this meeting which make it so special to horse racing fans and those who casually follow the sport such as the hats spectators wear. In 2017, there was a crowd of 158,070 at the track in Louisville to see Always Dreaming come out on top. Betting is already available for next year’s race where Bolt Doro is the early +1000 favourite. If you are attending the meeting in 2018, you can read a full horse racing preview and receive betting tips from experts in the sport to help you on the day.
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Giving its positioning on the horse racing calendar in the USA in May, this meeting is an event many people look forward to in spring as the weather normally improves at this point in the year in Baltimore, Maryland. The Preakness Stakes is the second leg of the Triple Crown and takes place just two weeks after the Kentucky Derby. In 2017, Cloud Computing beat his rivals to land the top prize. It was first run in 1873 therefore it has been able to establish itself as one of the leading sporting events of the year. The most famous winner of the Preakness Stakes is Secretariat who blew his rivals away in 1973. Such was the popularity of this horse, Hollywood decided to make a film about him.
With horse racing as healthy as it has ever been in the USA, it would be no surprise to see the sport continue to grow and continue to be part of popular culture.