10 Horse Races You Need to Bet on Every Year

By Noah Davis
Published on September 19, 2017

Elite horse racing is back with the arrival of fall, as horse racing enthusiasts and bettors alike can start preparing for some of the best events starting in October.

There are seemingly always smaller horse races to stumble upon and even wager on, while late September brings a fun one in the Prix Du Cadran. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, however, as the horse racing season only heats up from there.

Before you know it, the big races that bleed into the Kentucky Derby will be here and we will all again be discussing which colt has the goods to sweep the Triple Crown. With the horse racing schedule starting to showcase some fine betting opportunities, it got us to thinking about all the big horse racing events we’re going to want to keep tabs on.

Everyone’s personal preference and loyalties can differ, but we hand-picked some massive horse racing events and ranked them based on their intrigue and importance in terms of betting interest:

10. Arkansas Derby

We can kick things off with the Arkansas Derby, which isn’t as glorious as the two races that will follow it, but it actually carries a lot of weight on the road to the Kentucky Derby.

This race marks a big win for any Kentucky Derby hopefuls and even for the losers can serve as a bit of a measuring stick. Elite horse talent is put into play every year in mid-April, with past years producing high-level winners such as Classic Empire, American Pharoah and Creator.

Actual Arkansas Derby betting isn’t always easy to find, as the top horse racing betting sites tend to wait for the bigger races. This is still a fun spot to wager if you can find a spot to do so, however.

If you’re interested in finding odds for the Arkansas Derby, consider other big races leading into the Triple Crown, such as the FrontRunner Stakes, Louisiana Derby, Holy Bull, the Rebel Stakes and the Santa Anita Derby.

9. Pegasus World Cup

While not as well known yet as even the Arkansas Derby, things are quickly changing for this crazy race. The Pegasus World Cup still has work to do in terms of notoriety and longevity, as it only began for the first time in January of 2017.

Despite its first and only run, the Pegasus World Cup is already in the horse racing record books for being the richest horse race ever conducted. The $12 million purse beat out the illustrious Dubai World Cup, while reports suggest the 2018 edition is supposed to be even bigger ($16 million).

The numbers game gets a nod from us, while last year’s run included elite horses such as Arrogate, Shaman Ghost and California Chrome. A talented field and a massive purse provide the intrigue, as well as an interesting betting opportunity for horse racing fans.

8. Dubai World Cup

Anyone dialed into horse racing knows all about the Dubai World Cup, which has only been around since 1996, but is known for previously being the richest horse race in the world.

This prestigious Thoroughbred horse race based in Dubai has drawn the masses every year due to its elite competition, high level of entertainment and tantalizing betting upside.

The best of the best show up for this unique flat race in the dirt, while stud winners in recent years include the popular Arrogate and California Chrome. This is not a race for the faint of heart, as it contains some of the best competition you’ll find in any event, as well as a heavy $10 million purse.

More of a cherished event than just a race, the Dubai World Cup is the finishing touch on a 9-race extravaganza that provides a fun balancing act of celebrity and high-stakes horse racing.

Due to the immense competition and wide open field, this race is tough to predict. That being said, there is a ton of money at stake and this is one of the most thrilling (and profitable) events horse enthusiasts can bet on.

7. Epsom Derby

Thought by many to be the greatest flat race in the world, the Epsom Derby gets our horse racing blood flowing again in June, just as we begin putting the finishing touches on the Triple Crown.

This storied race has seen 238 runs in its history and goes down at the Epsom Downs Racecourse. While not as well known outside of horse racing fan circles as the Triple Crown events, this elite derby race still offers up high-level competition and a solid $1.5 million purse.

Most of the big horse races being discussed on this list are based in the United States and more commonly known, while the Epsom Derby is one of 5 Classics in the British Classic Races. Regardless, this is one of the bigger races to jumpstart the next leg of the horse racing season and comes just two months before the less meaningful Travers Stakes.

6. The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe

There isn’t a whole lot to get excited about in the horse racing world just before and after the Travers Stakes, but once September rolls around, you better start planning for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Held in Paris, France, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe dominates early October with one of the top races held in Europe at any point in the year. Bovada is habitually one of the fastest horse racing betting sites to issue odds for the main event, while there are typically betting opportunities for the other races held before it.

In addition to this race being a classy affair with elite competition, it’s also among the most profitable for the winners. Bettors can stretch their wagers out across a large field while winning horses compete for $10.5 million.

5. Breeders’ Cup Classic

Not too long after the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe concludes horse racing bettors set their sights on another massive event – the Breeders’ Cup. This is another prestigious event that showcases elite Thoroughbred talent in numbers races (13 in all).

While the Breeders’ Cup Classic is the biggest event of the bunch, these races collectively hand out upwards of $30 million every year. The Classic takes the highest earnings ($6 million) and is easily the top draw thanks to familiar horses – the best of the best that happen to be three or older.

The record feels old, but the more dominant horses tend to show up and win here, so it shouldn’t shock anyone that Arrogate and American Pharoah have won the past two races.

While a huge event that has die-hard horse racing fans flocking its way, this is also a massive event for bettors, thanks to the wide array of races and horses competing. This is another event where Bovada is among the top sports betting sites in pushing out competitive odds well before the races arrive.

4. The Grand National

Our last stop outside of the United States goes down in England, where we get horse racing combined with fence-jumping. What’s classier than that?

England seems to make everything sophisticated and that’s certainly the case here, as The Grand National is an event to behold. This is a brutal race for even the best horses and jockeys, which understandably makes it one of the best to watch and one of the more difficult races to bet on.

Finding betting avenues for The Grand National isn’t always easy, but the unique course set-up and tradition makes it one we want to hunt out each year. Around since 1839, this race features horses aged 7 and up and challenges your patience during a 4-mile course.

3. Belmont Stakes

To the U.S. we go, as the last leg of the Triple Crown demands our attention. The Epsom Derby arrives just as this race fires off, but this is a bigger race due to popularity and what is potentially at stake.

Held every year at Belmont Park, the Belmont Stakes at worst gives us a staggering race between the top Thoroughbreds of the year and at best can bring us a Triple Crown winner.

The Run For the Carnations is an emphatic ending for the most glorious three-leg race of the year and produces a strong $1.5 million purse. This race can be tougher to gauge even when odds and past results are taken into the equation, as it’s 1.5-mile run can test the toughest of horses.

Some of these events can be tough to find odds for initially, but that’s never a concern with the Belmont Stakes or any event in the Triple Crown. All of the top sports betting sites feature this race and push out early odds the second the second leg of the Triple Crown concludes.

2. Preakness Stakes

That second leg you’ll want to keep tabs on is the Preakness Stakes, which is always an interesting race just because the Kentucky Derby winner – right or wrong – typically enters as a solid favorite.

Not only does that give you a chance to take advantage of some horse racing betting value, but it also allows us to imagine the potential of said horse running the table and winning the Triple Crown. That can’t happen without a win at the Preakness Stakes, however, which is a huge part of the draw of this race.

Triple Crown sweep aside, the Preakness Stakes stands alone as a massive event. This race carries its own $1.5 million purse and features the best 3-year old Thoroughbreds competing for first place.

Pimlico Race Course is home to this event every year, where some of the best horses go head to head for 9.5 furlongs on the third Saturday in May. Like every Triple Crown race, this event is insanely hyped and easy to wager on immediately after the Kentucky Derby is over.

1. Kentucky Derby

Our top horse racing event is none other than the Kentucky Derby, for every reason that moves the needle. The only thing the Kentucky Derby doesn’t have is a massive purse, as the $1.45 million total comes in just under the next two races during the Triple Crown run.

This is a race more about hype and tradition, however, as it’s the launchpad for a historic event that truly never gets old for horse racing and sports fans, alike.

The Kentucky Derby not only gets us our first big winner of the Triple Crown season but potentially gives us the rarest of gems – a horse that can run the table against all odds and the stiffest competition.

Like only a few other huge races, Kentucky Derby odds are issued rather early in the new year, which opens the door to both major gaffes and insane value. Due to the way the Kentucky Derby is set up, as well as the way horses can get sick or injured, it puts bettors in an interesting spot from day one.

It also could give bettors a massive leg up on Vegas, as odds are available early and if you put in the work, you just might nail a hot sleeper before the top horse racing sportsbooks acknowledge them.

Checking up on the history of the Kentucky Derby and all of these events is encouraged, while the KD itself goes down at the well know Churchill Downs every year on the first Saturday of May. It’s not the biggest or most expensive race, but the Kentucky Derby has allure, heart, and history, unlike any other race you’ll find.

Think we missed a big horse race or the order is out of sorts? Hit us up in the comments below to let us know where we went wrong!
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