What are the Most Important Horse Races in America in 2024?

What are the Most Important Horse Races in America in 2024?

When we discuss the biggest sporting events on American soil, we tend to immediately think about the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, the World Series, and the Stanley Cup.

But when you learn that the annual attendance at the Kentucky Derby is a massive 150,000 people, you realize just how popular horse racing is with the sports lovers in the United States too.

So, in that spirit, let’s take a look at the most important horse races on the American calendar in 2024.

Kentucky Oaks (May)

One of the first big races of the year, chronologically speaking, is the Kentucky Oaks.

Held each May at the famous Churchill Downs track in Louisville, the Kentucky Oaks is a Grade 1 renewal contested over 1,800 meters – acting as a sort of warm-up for the Kentucky Derby, which follows a day later at the same venue.

You’ll notice that today’s horse racing betting odds feature lines for the Kentucky Oaks – even months in advance of the race itself. That’s because sportsbooks offer ‘futures’ for the biggest races, with the favorites for the 2024 edition including Just FYI (+650), Jody’s Pride (+700), and Candied (+1200).

The total prize pool for the Kentucky Oaks is €1.25 million, with $750,000 of that going to the winning connections.

Kentucky Derby (May)

The Churchill Downs weekend, typically held at the start of May, is headlined by the Kentucky Derby.

It’s a race of unknowns, in some ways, with the three-year-olds in the field covering the 2,000m distance for the first time in their careers – competitively speaking, at least.

The Kentucky Derby was first run way back in 1875, which helps to explain why it’s such a prestigious race – the history is such that everyone in racing wants to win it.

Some of the most legendary horses to ever set hoof on American soil have won the Kentucky Derby, from Justify and American Pharaoh to Secretariat and Affirmed. In 2024, the victor will bank a winner’s share of $3.1 million for their owner and trainer.

Belmont Stakes (June)

The stakes are raised, figuratively and literally, in the Belmont Stakes, with the race distance upped to 2,414 meters.

That gruelling examination of stamina is why the Belmont is called the ‘Test of Champions’, and why it happily takes its place as the third and decisive leg of American racing’s Triple Crown (alongside the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes).

Typically held at Belmont Park, the race will temporarily switch to Saratoga in 2024 to allow for construction work to be completed at Belmont.

Arlington Million (August)

You can probably guess how the Arlington Million got its name – the total prize fund is that cool seven-figure sum.

But not only that, the winner of the Arlington Million qualifies for another Grade 1 race – the next renewal on this list…

Breeders’ Cup Turf (November)

The Breeders’ Cup World Championships are the pinnacle of racing on American soil.

They may not have the audience or the casual interest of the Kentucky Derby, but hardened racing lovers know that the best owners and trainers around the world want to win one or more of the Breeders’ Cup races.

The Breeders’ Cup Turf is part of the series, bringing together the best horses to compete over 1.5 miles, with qualification races taking place all over the globe. The result is a race with true international appeal – and a $4 million prize pool.

So, if you want to get into horse racing in 2024, these are the races you want to have at the top of your watchlist.