Horse racing is one of the oldest sports in the world. Due to its longevity as a major sport, and top betting event, horse racing takes place in nearly every country. Every day, there are hundreds of horse races that occur. Yet, there are just a few races each year that capture the entire sports community’s attention. These famous races can catapult an owner, trainer, jockey, and horse to unparalleled heights in the sport. The 5 top horse races in the world can make or break a career.
5. Pegasus World Cup
It may not have the history and prestige of other horse races on this list, but the Pegasus World Cup is currently the richest event in the world. The Pegasus World Cup paid out a whopping $16m in 2018. It was a $4m increase on the previous year.
Held at Gulfstream Park in Florida, the Pegasus World Cup was first run in January 2017. The race features a 1 1/8 miles dirt track. Thoroughbreds four-years old and up qualify for the event.
To enter the race, 12 shareholders buy a position for an undetermined horse. The price of each share is $1m. Shareholders then have the right to do what they want with the place. They can race their own horse, sell, or lease the place to another horse owner. In the end, each shareholder receives a piece of the event’s net income.
4. Preakness Stakes
The Preakness Stakes is the second jewel of the American Triple Crown of horse racing. Contested on the third Saturday of May, the race occurs two weeks after the Kentucky Derby. The race is run at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland.
Established in 1873, the Preakness Stakes is a race for three-years old and older horses. It covers 1 3/16 miles on a dirt track.
The Preakness Stakes is the second-best attended race in the United States behind the Kentucky Derby. During the American spring, sports fans are glued to the results of both races along with the Belmont Stakes (the third of the American Triple Crown races). The Preakness is the second of the three races.
Justify won the 2018 version of the Preakness stakes. The total purse for the event was $1.5m with $900,000 going to Justify and his team. The win secured Justify’s second jewel on the way to winning all three Triple Crown races in 2018.
3. Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe
Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe is held the first Sunday in October in Paris, France. Run at the Longchamp Racecourse, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe pays out a €5m purse with €2.857m going to the race’s winner.
The race is the most prestigious in Europe, and its winning purse is the third largest in world horse racing. Only the best horses in Europe will feature in the premier race of the event, the Arc.
2. Grand National
Established in 1839, the Grand National is the biggest horse race on the British race calendar. Run on turf, horses must cover four miles while jumping various obstacles. The Grand National’s course, Aintree, has a unique layout that separates it from many of the top racetracks in the United States and elsewhere.
Run in April, the Grand National is one of the biggest horse betting days of the year in Britain. It was estimated just under 13 million people wagered on the Grand National in 2018. Around 152,000 people attended the most recent running of the race.
The winner of the 2018 Grand National was Tiger Roll. The horse received £531,300 for his win. Converted to dollars, it greatly pales in comparison to the winning fee paid to the Kentucky Derby winner.
While British horse racing fans will argue that the Grand National is the biggest event, others will claim it is the Kentucky Derby. One part of the American Triple Crown of horse racing, the Kentucky Derby is held every first Saturday in May in Louisville, Kentucky. The first Kentucky Derby was held in 1875 at Churchill Downs. The venue has seen every edition of the race since.
The race’s purse in 2018 was a whopping $2 million. Over $1.4 million of that went to the Kentucky Derby winner Justify. The most recent running of the Kentucky Derby saw over 157,000 people attend the Churchill Downs’ event. It was the race’s eighth highest attendance.