New York Horse Races

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The state of New York stages some of the most important horse races on the calendar. The New York horse races program features graded races and major handicaps. Betting on horse racing is popular in New York state and bettors have many opportunities to visit the tracks. 

There are 12 decent tracks within relatively easy traveling distance and good venues for the most to bet on New York horse races. This article provides information about horse racing NY and New York race tracks where there is a huge amount of horse racing betting. 

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Three of the most popular race tracks in New York state are Belmont Park, Saratoga, and Aqueduct.  These three tracks stage the most important graded races and major handicaps. 

One of the most bet-on races of the year is the Belmont Stakes. It is the third leg of the US Triple Crown, made up of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. These races are the equivalent of the Classics in the UK. The Belmont Stakes is the most important of the New York horse races. The occasion attracts a huge crowd to Belmont Park which is an important venue for horse racing NY.

Biggest Horse Races in NY

There are many horse races in New York state that are popular among bettors. The race tracks are affordable and the facilities for horse racing betting are generally good. Tracks in the United States are usually left-handed ovals and the surfaces are dirt or grass. The nature of the race tracks in New York state is important for gamblers who take horse racing betting seriously. 

Horses are often suited to dirt or turf and the underfoot conditions are an important element of New York race tracks. Horse racing books issues future betting on the big events in horse racing NY. The bookmakers also publish the day of the race betting.  

The Breeders’ Cup, otherwise known as the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, is a two-day meeting that features Grade 1 races. After the Triple Crown races, it is the most important racing occasion in the United States. There are currently 14 Breeders’ Cup races, over dirt and turf. 

The races bring together the best colts, geldings, and mares over a variety of distances. The Breeders’ Cup was held at Belmont Park in New York state in 1990, 1995, 2001, and 2005. The meeting took place at Aqueduct in 1985. Belmont Park and Aqueduct are the only horse racing NY to have staged the Breeders’ Cup but Saratoga could be the venue in the future.     

The Breeders’ Cup takes place in New York state every few years. Here is more information about the most important annual New York horse races.

Belmont Stakes – June 20th, 2020

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Description: Grade 1 stake race that is the third leg of the Triple crown.

History: First run in 1868.

Track: Belmont Park

Surface: Dirt

Distance: One mile and five furlongs.

Conditions: Three-year-old colts and geldings.

Most recent winner (2019): Sir Winston was ridden by Joel Rosario and trained by Mark E. Casse.

The Belmont Stakes takes place on the first or second Saturday in June. Belmont Park is located in the Elmont area of New York.  The venue is known as ‘The Championship Track’ because virtually all the best horses in the history of racing in the United States have raced there. It is a fair track with sweeping turns and a long home straight. The Belmont Stakes is run five weeks after the Kentucky Derby and three weeks after the Preakness Stakes, the first two legs of the Triple Crown. 

Jockey Club Gold Cup

Description: Weight for age-graded race.

History: First run in 1919.

Track: Belmont Park

Surface: Dirt

Distance: One mile and two furlongs.  

Conditions: Horses aged three and older.

Most recent winner (2019): Code Of Honor ridden by John Velazquez and trained by Shug McGaughey.

The Jockey Club Gold Cup was first run in 1919. The race is the highlight of the fall meeting at Belmont Park. Many former winners of the race appear in the Hall of Fame. The race has Grade 1 status and the prize fund in 2019 was $1,000,000. However, the Breeders’ Cup Classic attracts horses with a similar profile and that has had a detrimental effect on the race.  The standing of the Jockey Club Gold Cup has been boosted since the winner qualifies for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Wood Memorial Stakes

Description: Major stakes prep race for the Kentucky Derby.

History: First run in 1926.

Track: Aqueduct Racetrack.

Surface: Dirt

Distance: Nine furlongs.  

Conditions: Horses aged three.

Most recent winner (2019): Tacitus was ridden by Jose L. Ortiz and trained by William I. Mott.

The Wood Memorial Stakes takes place in April at Aqueduct which is located in Ozone Park in New York. Over the course of its history, the race has had Grade 1 and Grade 2 status but it has been a Grade 2 race since 2017. The nine furlongs contest is a key trial for the Kentucky Derby.  Eleven horses won both races from 1930 to 2000. Four of those horses also won the Triple Crown. Several winners of the race this century missed the Kentucky Derby due to injury.     

Belmont Derby Invitational

Description: Grade 1 stakes race.

History: First run in 1929.

Track: Belmont Park.

Surface: Turf.

Distance: One mile and two furlongs.  

Conditions: Horses aged three.

Most recent winner (2019): Henley’s Joy ridden by Jose Lezcano and trained by Michael J. Maker. The Belmont Derby takes place on turf at Belmont Park in July. The race is the first leg of the ‘Turf Trinity’ which was introduced to the calendar in 2019. It carries a total prize fund of $1,000,000. The race is one of the highlights of the Stars and Stripes Racing Festival at Belmont Park.  The Belmont Derby replaced the Jamaica Handicap in 2014. It moved from a regular date in October, the distance changed from nine to ten furlongs and the prize fund was increased considerably. 

Metropolitan Handicap

Description: Prestigious handicap race.

History: First run in 1891.

Track: Belmont Park.

Surface: Dirt.

Distance: One mile.  

Conditions: Horses aged three and older.

Most recent winner (2019): Mitole was ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr. and trained by Steven M. Asmussen.

The race is also known as the Met Mile. It now takes place on the same race card at the Belmont Stakes at the start of June. The Metropolitan Handicap is one of the most important races of the season after the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup. It is significant to the breeding industry because of the distance. The winner must be able to race with the pace and show a good turn of foot. These attributes have been identified as important for stallions of the future.  

Cigar Mile

Description: Major handicap race.

History: First run in 1988.

Track: Aqueduct Racetrack.

Surface: Dirt.

Distance: One mile.  

Conditions: Horses aged three and older.

Most recent winner (2019): Maximum Security ridden by L. Saez and trained by J. Servis.

This race was first run in 1988 under a different title but it was named after the racehorse Cigar on retirement in 1997. Cigar won the race in 1994 as a four-year-old.  All but one winner has been aged 3, 4 or 5 and only one horse has won the race more than once. The Cigar Mile is a weight-for-age handicap which means weights are allocated based on form and age.  The race has a total prize fund of $500,000 which makes it one of the richest handicaps of the season. 

Horse Betting in New York

The most popular sports for betting in the United States are American football, baseball, ice hockey, and basketball. Sports betting is now legal in the United States and several states have now passed laws for regulated online betting. The growth in sports betting could have implications for horse betting in the country. 

Bettors have limited resources and betting banks. If some gamblers prefer to bet on the four main North American professional sports, there will be less horse betting. Tracks in New York must try to attract punters and that could mean more promotion of the most prestigious New York horse races. Horse racing in New York could benefit from more sports betting. 

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