Horse Racing has a rich history of tracks across the world. While many new stadiums boast of millions being spent, the most storied of all are in the United States. The USA holds 25 distinguished horse races throughout the year, and they take place at some of the greatest tracks the sport has to offer.
There are countless reasons that make a horse racing track great, but we favor historical grounds that hold prestigious races while giving spectators gorgeous views. We will rank the top eight horse racing tracks in the United States and why all horse racing fans should travel to them at least once. If you don’t want to bet online but rather prefer to head to the track to find horse racing odds, then these eight places are the best of the best.
8. Gulfstream Park (Florida)
Racing happens almost year-round at this southern Florida course, where sunshine and palm trees give this track a feel unlike any other. The weather is the key to this course. It holds essential Derby prep races in the winter when many east coast tracks are closed. The most historical piece at this course has nothing to do with horse racing. It features a 100-foot statue of Pegasus and Dragon, the second-largest statue in the country, only beaten by the Statue of Liberty.
The racetrack was built in 1939, but for only a four-day meeting. It was reopened in 1944 for a 20-day session. After the clubhouse was built in 1953, the course became a permanent fixture and introduced turf racing in 1959. The grandstands have seen several renovations throughout the years, with the most recent coming in 2013. That year included the construction and placement of the famous statue. Some of the world’s most important races are held at this track each year, including the Florida Derby, Pegasus World Cup, and the Pegasus World Cup Turf.
7. Pimlico Race Course (Maryland)
Pimlico Race Course is the second-oldest racetrack in the United States. It was named after the 1660s English settlers who named the land in honor of Olde Ben Pimlico’s Tavern in London. Opened in 1870, a colt named Preakness won the first running of the Dinner Party Stakes, and 12,000 people attended the race. Three years later, the horse would have the 1873 Preakness Stakes named in his honor. The Preakness 2022 is now the second leg of the Triple Crown.
The racetrack is nicknamed “Old Hilltop” after a small rise in the infield, a popular gathering spot for raucous racing fans. The course has stables for about 1,000 horses and the capacity, including the infield, is 120,000 people. In May 2020, Maryland granted the owners of Pimlico $375 million in bonds for renovations. One of the best tracks in the country is about to get even better in the future. Let’s check the Preakness stakes odds for you to consider.
6. Santa Anita Park (California)
Located in Arcadia, Calif., Santa Anita Park is home to notable races throughout the years, including the Santa Anita Derby and multiple Breeders’ Cups, most recently in 2019. With the San Gabriel Mountains backdrop, Santa Anita is one of the most picturesque tracks in America.
This location is the second Santa Anita Park, as the original park was built in 1904. An anti-horse racing betting bill was passed in California, causing the track to close in 1909. Then, in 1912, the original Santa Anita Park burned to the ground.
California allowed wagering on horse races again in 1933, leading to the present-day Santa Anita Park creation. The track’s first race was on Christmas Day, 1935
The racetrack is listed in the National Register of Historic Places due to its history as an assembly center for Japanese Americans during World War II. The course did come under scrutiny in 2019, when 30 horses died, leading to a trainer being banned and many races being postponed. Despite the controversial history of the track, it still has one of the best sceneries in horse racing.
5. Del Mar Thoroughbred Club (California)
Bing Crosby and other celebrities founded this San Diego-area track, and it still brings the star power. Del Mar Thoroughbred Club opened in the 1940s, and the grounds are described as “where the turf meets the surf,” since the course is a stone’s throw from the Pacific Ocean. The weather is always lovely in San Diego, so it will likely be a beautiful day no matter what time of the year you visit this track.
Del Mar is also a popular destination for the concerts held after the races on Friday night, a fun atmosphere for even a casual horse racing fan. They are most famous for the Pacific Classic race, and in 1991, the race set a record with a $1 million prize fund. Of course, today, that purse is commonplace, but it was a big deal at the time. Del Mar hosted the Breeders’ Cup for the first time in 2017.
4. Monmouth Park (New Jersey)
Often referred to as “The Shore,” Monmouth Park is located near the Atlantic in Oceanport, NJ. This historic track opened in 1870, and its top event is the Haskell Invitational. The mile-and-a-half race is a test for three-year-old horses in late July. It is also the showcase of the Jersey Derby, the race was run initially at Garden State Park, but it closed in 2001.
Three different buildings have been called Monmouth Park throughout the years. The original was the Long Branch Racetrack in 1870. The Monmouth Park Jockey Club opened in 1946 after a New Jersey bill was passed, led by Haskell, to regulate horse racing on a state level. After a 53-year hiatus, thoroughbred racing was back in the facility.
The current Monmouth Park began in 1985 after the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority purchased the course from the previous owner. In 2018, Monmouth Park opened a sportsbook and became the first location in New Jersey to offer sports betting.
3. Belmont Park (New York)
Belmont is famous for hosting the final leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes. Every June, a massive crowd of up to 50,000 spectators watches the “Test of the Champion,” as the mile-and-a-half course will test the endurance of the horses to prove who is the best.
Opened in 1905 in Elmont, New York, the track is one of the oldest and one of the most demanding courses in racing. It is considered one of the fairest tracks with its big, wide, sweeping turns and long homestretch. Belmont’s largest crowd in 2004, as 120,139 people saw Smarty Jones upset Birdstone in its Triple Crown bid.
2. Arlington Park (Illinois)
After a fire destroyed the track in 1985, the Arlington International Racecourse set out to build the most beautiful track in America, and we have to say, they did it. The park has incredible landscaping and a six-story grandstand which gives the ultimate experience for watching thoroughbred racing.
Located in the suburbs of Chicago, the turf racecourse dates back to 1927. Even back then, it had natural beauty, but it has gotten even more gorgeous after the rebuild. The grandstands are spectacular and are only bettered by one other track in the US. Some notable events at this racetrack are the Secretariat Stakes, Beverly D. Stakes, and the Arlington Million.
1. Churchill Downs (Kentucky)
Was there ever any doubt who would be number one? Home to the first leg of the Triple Crown, the legendary Kentucky Derby, even non-horse racing fans travel to Louisville to be a part of this massive event. The complex opened in 1875 and was named after Samuel Churchill, whose family was prominent in Kentucky.
The grandstands feature the iconic twin spires that overlook the pristine race track and hold the most famous race in the world. The track has also been featured in popular horse movies such as The Great Race Horse and Dreamer. The facilities and racetrack span over 147 acres, this is the most famous racetrack globally, so it is no surprise that it ranks number one in U.S. horse racing tracks.
Whether you know anything about thoroughbred racing, these eight tracks are marvelous and are a sight to behold. The ambiance and history these courses have are unlike anything in sports. Many of these tracks are over 100-years old and have witnessed horse racing’s most glorious events. The only comparable facilities in sports are Fenway Park and Wrigley Field.
The grand nature of big horse races is unique. There are many ways to appreciate and have fun at these tracks. If you want to dress up and admire the fine architecture, or if you are more interested in horse racing betting and want to win big, going to the track is always a fun time. There are many more gorgeous racetracks in the U.S., but we tried to pick the best of the best. Without a doubt, these are the eight best horse racing tracks in the country.