6 Most Unforgettable US Horse Races of all Time

US horse races image
Horse Races. Image Credit: Shutterstock

While horse races have been taking place across the United States for over three centuries, a few of these events have gone down in the annals of history as being the best in their class.

The history of horse racing in the US spans back to the 17th century when the first New England racetrack was opened in colonial Massachusetts.  Over the next 350 years, horse racing rapidly grew in popularity, becoming one of the favourite pastimes of sports lovers and punters alike.

In the centuries-long history of American horse racing, several memorable races have stood out.  Here’s our selection of the six most famous horseracing events in the United States:

1. 110th Belmont Stakes (9 June 1973)

The 110th Belmont Stakes has gone down as possibly the most famous horseracing event in the history of the US.  The race favourite, Secretariat, beat the nearest competitor by 31 lengths, running the fastest time ever at the Belmont. To this day, Secretariat not only holds the quickest time at the Belmont but also at the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby as well. There is no question that Secretariat was one of the best racehorses ever to race in the United States.

2. The 115th Belmont Stakes (10 June 1978)

Considered the second greatest race in US history, the 110th Belmont Stakes featured only two horses that had a shot at winning. The favourite, Affirmed, had already won the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby that year. His opponent, Alydar, lost by a nose in both races.

Racing experts were confident that if Alydar had a chance to win a leg of the Triple Crown, it would be at the Belmont. Affirmed and Alydar left the gate and sprinted the 1,5 miles to the finish, with no other horse coming close to the lead pair. And, yet again, Affirmed won by a nose. To date, Alydar remains the only steed in Triple Crown history to have come second in all three races.

3. The 147th Belmont Stakes (6 June 2015)

By 2015, It had been 37 years since the last Triple Crown winner. In fact, many experts noted that there would never be another Triple Crown winner because of the level of diversity in the field. However, with the second-fastest time in the history of Belmont, American Pharaoh finally broke through.

Although he did not have a good start to his race, this didn’t matter, and in the end, he passed Frosted to win the Belmont. This was the fourth attempt by the Hall of Fame trainer, Bob Baffert, at the Triple Crown. Interestingly, American Pharaoh had the oldest trainer and the oldest jockey to win the competition.

4. 135th Kentucky Derby (2 May 2009)

Many have compared the Mine that Bird’s 50-1 odds victory at the Kentucky Derby to Canonero II’s victory in 1971. Mine that Bird remained in the last place until the final turn, where he sprinted past the favourite horse, Pioneer of the Mile, to win. Mine that Bird remains the longest odds horse to win since 1924, and the one who took the biggest lead in a race since 1939.

5. Breeder’s Cup Classic (1993)

Many believe the Breeder’s Cup Classic is far better than any Triple Crown race. The Cup is a very intense and competitive race, featuring horses from across the globe. In 1993, Arcangue, a French-bred horse named after a town, was a 133-1 longshot.

The horse had never raced on a dirt track before and had marginal success on grass tracks. Arcangue was trailing the favourite, Bertrando, for most of the race. However, in the stretch, Arcangue outperformed Betrando to win by a length. Some experts deem the 1993 Breeder’s Cup Classic as the greatest upset in horseracing history.

6. 121st Belmont Stakes (11 June 1989)

The Belmont Stakes features prominently on this list, as it is the last leg of the Triple Crown. At 1.5 miles, it is also the longest horse race. Many prospective Triple Crown horses often win at the Derby and the Preakness but struggle at the Belmont, with the length and the stress of the race taking out many would-be winners.

In 1989, Sunday Silence won both the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby, with Easy Goer coming in second in both races. However, at the Belmont, the legendary jockey, Pat Day, finally caught a break. Day got Easy Goer on the outside, and the steed ran the second-fastest Belmont ever.

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