HomeCultureThe South’s Best Horse Races and How They Compare to Preakness

The South’s Best Horse Races and How They Compare to Preakness

There has been racing in the U.S. since long before it was the U.S., with some citing the establishment of the Newmarket course in New York in 1665 as the birth of the sport. Over the centuries, interest in racing has spread throughout the states, but its recent popularity centers around some of the largest meets in the county, specifically the Triple Crown.

The Triple Crown is a series of horse races for three-year-old thoroughbreds, and it has become one of the most celebrated events on the racing calendar. The first horse to win all three races was Sir Barton in 1919, but it wasn’t until 1930 when Gallant Fox won all three events that the term Triple Crown came into regular use.

The Kentucky Derby is the first race of the Triple Crown, and the second is the Preakness Stakes held in Maryland. Preakness Stakes in held on the third Saturday of May on a mile-long track at the Pimlico Race Course.

As the second leg of the Triple Crown, Preakness is one of the most prestigious meets of the year, and the Preakness odds are affected by the results of the Kentucky Derby at the beginning of the month. The Belmont Stakes, held at Belmont Park in New York, is the final Triple Crown race, and there hasn’t been a winner of all three since 2018.

The excitement of the quest for the Triple Crown cemented the reputation of the South’s horseracing industry throughout the racing world as the Kentucky Derby kicked off the fun. The area is known as a place where racing fans can enjoy some of the best meets with some stand-out events of the year that no true racing fan wants to miss.

The Kentucky Derby

Source: Pexels

Since no list of horse races could possibly be complete without it, the Kentucky Derby has to top the list. As the race with the most attendees, the Kentucky Derby is known as “the most exciting two minutes in sport” for good reason.

This grade one contest takes place at Churchill Downs every year on the first Saturday in May. It is run as the headline event of the Kentucky Derby Festival, which comprises a host of other races and competitions over the two weeks preceding the big race.

The winner of the Kentucky Derby takes home nearly $1.5 million of the total prize fund of $2 million. The track is 10 furlongs long, or 1 1/4 miles, and the winning horse is draped with a blanket of roses at the finish line.

As the first leg in the Triple Crown, this year’s race will begin the contest and speculation will abound as to who will take the first title. The 2024 Kentucky Derby will be the 150th running of the race, which was first run in 1875, making it the longest-running sporting event in the U.S.

Preakness is run over a slightly shorter course than the Kentucky Derby, but only by 1/16 of a mile, and the Belmont is run over 1 1/2 miles, so it’s hard for a horse to have the pace to win all three. Preakness odds are strongly impacted by the Kentucky Derby results, not to mention the Triple Crown potential.

The Kentucky Oaks

As one of the other showstoppers at the Kentucky Festival, the Kentucky Oaks race is the female counterpart to the Kentucky Derby. It is steeped in tradition and is held on the Friday before the main Derby race, adding to the excitement with a race that is as hotly contested as the main event.

The winner of the Kentucky Oaks is covered with a blanket of lilies; therefore, the event has jokingly been nicknamed “Lillies for the Fillies.” The winner takes home $750,000, which is less than the winner of the Preakness Stakes who nets $900,000 from the prize purse.

While attendance at the Kentucky Oaks might be a side-effect of its inclusion in the main derby line-up, it has become a hugely prestigious event in its own right. It might not have quite the significance of the Preakness Stakes, but it’s certainly earned its reputation.

The Arkansas Derby

Held at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas, the Arkansas Derby is a grade one race held over 9 furlongs (1 1/8 miles) on a dirt track. The 12th winner of the Triple Crown, American Pharoah, had already won the Arkansas Derby that year.

The purse is smaller for the Arkansas Derby than the Preakness Stakes, but the Arkansas Derby can be a good predictor of performance. Anyone who’s interested in Preakness odds could do worse than look to the results of the Arkansas Derby for clues as to which horses have potential.

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