HRI Foreign Desk Staff — Horse racing is becoming increasingly popular. And there are two reasons for this; firstly, with COVID-19 having put a stop to many sports across the world, horse racing was one of the first to return, due to the nature of so few people being involved and most jockeys able to keep fair distances between themselves and their competitors. Secondly, because more States across the US are legalising gambling, and so interest in sports people can bet on has increased.
And so horse racing over the last 24 months has seen rapid growth in terms of the numbers that watch it on TV or online. And not just in the US either, its popularity has increased globally. Although, you still get the very few people who claim it is cruelty to animals to make them race, and campaign for justice at many of the top events. But believe you me, these horses are treated like royalty. In fact, some of them live better lives than us humans.
But what are the biggest upcoming races in the US horse racing calendar? And which horses have the best betting odds to win those races? Well, let’s take a look…
The Breeders Cup is one of the biggest races in the horse racing calendar around the world. Thousands flock to watch in attendance, and millions more tune in to watch online or on TV.
It takes place at the world renowned Del Mar Racetrack, located at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in California. It features a series of 14 championship races that run from anywhere between 5 ½ furlongs to 1 ¼ mile. There are a mix of races run on both dirt and turf, with horses of all ages and sexes able to compete in at least one of the races throughout the whole event.
But the ultimate race is the Breeders’ Cup Classic, one of the biggest races that trainers look forward to and prepare for in the US after the likes of the Triple Crown. It has a $6,000,000 prize and is always a hot contest every year. But who are the likely favorites this time round? Which trainer is likely to have their horse crowned as champion?
Well, the official lineup is yet to be announced, but we do have a list of the top contenders going off recent results in the races leading up to the Breeders’ Cup. And here’s who we think could go the distance and the odds you can likely expect on the day:
|Knicks Go||Brad H. Cox||7-2||Won BC Dirt Mile, Pegasus, 7 of last 9|
|Essential Quality||Brad Cox||9-2||Won Belmont, Travers, 8 of 9 lifetime|
|Art Collector||William Mott||8-1||Won Woodward in last, 3-race win streak|
|Hot Rod Charlie||Doug O’Neill||10-1||Won PA Derby, 2nd in Belmont, 3rd in Derby|
|Medina Spirit||Bob Baffert||10-1||Won the Ky Derby, but stripped for doping|
|Max Player||Steven Asmussen||10-1||Won Jockey Club Gold Cup, Suburban last 2|
|Happy Saver||Todd Pletcher||16-1||Won 2020 Jockey Club Gold Cup|
|Maxfield||Brendan Walsh||20-1||7 of 10 lifetime, 2nd in Woodward, Whitney|
|Tripoli||John Sadler||28-1||Won PAC Classic on this surface, distance|
|Dr Post||Todd Pletcher||40-1||3rd in Woodward, PAC Classic last two|
|Express Train||John Shirreffs||40-1||Won G2 San Diego, San Pasqual this year|
|Idol||Richard Baltas||40-1||Won Big Cap, 6th in Awesome Again 10/2|
|Stilleto Boy||Ed Moger Jr.||75-1||Iowa Derby winner, 2nd in Awesome Again|
The only horse who may not make the cut is Medina Spirit, and likewise for any of Baffert’s trained horses, as he is still under investigation for the doping incident at the Kentucky Derby. However, it is possible he transfers traineeship over to other trainers so his horses could still compete in the Breeders’ Cup Classic should they make it. It’s not right, but it’s a loophole the owners of these horses will take advantage of.
The next big race of the month is the Clark Handicap. Whilst its prizepool is much smaller, with a purse of just $500,000, it’s still a race many look forward to across the US, and has had many big winners over the years.
It takes place at the famous Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, and is one of the oldest races in US horse racing history. Ran over 1 ⅛ miles of dirt, this race has changed a lot over the years. The race distance has changed, and even the race restrictions, in fact, despite many still calling it the Clark Handicap, any such handicap was removed years ago. Now all horses aged three and over are able to compete, as long as they meet the set weights and allowances required.
Sadly, it isn’t quite known what the lineup will be for that race yet, so we can’t quite predict that one just yet. It doesn’t quite operate in the same way the Breeders’ Cup Classic does that allows us to watch races and decipher who will feature. Still, it’ll no doubt be an exciting race to look forward to, as it always is.