Reasons to Keep Horse Racing on Radar After Triple Crown Season

Michael Dempsey@turfnsportFeatured ColumnistJune 13, 2013

Reasons to Keep Horse Racing on Radar After Triple Crown Season

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    This spring’s Triple Crown season is now in the books, but there are plenty of good reasons to keep horse racing on your radar for the remainder of the year.

    While most sports fans focus on the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes, there is non-stop racing action nearly every day. Every day there is heart-stopping, hoof-thundering horse racing action, and plenty of racetracks throughout the country put on a great show.

    Even if you can’t make it out to a racetrack, there are television networks TVG and HRTV to bring the action right into your home, as well as online streaming of all racetracks.

    And for those who like to get a few wagers in, don’t forget that betting on horse racing is perfectly legal, whether at the track, from home or even via telephone.

    Here are a few good reasons to keep horse racing on your radar after the Triple Crown season.

Downs After Dark Under Twin Spires

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    It’s a party, complete with live music, good food and of course gambling. For the next three Saturday night’s Churchill Downs hosts “Downs After Dark” with the festivities getting underway at 6 p.m. ET.

    Saturday’s party is dubbed “The White Party,” where fans are encouraged to wear all white. The party on the following Saturday night will be a Southern-themed affair called “Boots, Brew and BBQ,” and June 29 is “Star-Spangled Night,” a pre-Fourth of July holiday party.

    Even if you cannot make it to Louisville for the party, horseplayers can watch and wager from home and the stars will come out on this Saturday’s card. Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) champion, Fort Larned, heads a strong field of six in the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (G1).

    Earlier in the evening the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (G1) winner Delta Royal will be the heavy favorite in the $175,000 Fleur De Lis (G2). 

Del Mar

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    Del Mar opens for its summer meeting on July 17, offering up one of the classiest meets of the year, with top horses, trainers, jockeys and owners converging on the track known as "Where the Turf Meets the Surf."

    The track has a view of the Pacific Ocean and will feature 43 stakes races with nearly $8 million in purses up for grabs during the meeting, which includes 37 racing days.

    The marquee event of the meeting is the $1 million Pacific Classic (G1) on August 25 for older runners, one of 20 graded stakes that will be run during the meeting.

    There are plenty of reasons to make it out to Del Mar this summer, including concerts by the B-52’s, Sammy Hagar and Weezer.

    Of course, it's also on the beach, and how many racetracks are there where you can throw your losing tickets in the ocean or bury them in the sand?

Saratoga

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    Known as “The Spa,” Saratoga opens for its summer meeting on July 19 and during the 38-day meeting—which ends on Labor Day—we will see 34 graded stakes races and non-stop action six days a week, with only Monday’s dark.

    The marquee event of the meeting is the $1 million Travers Stakes (G1), which is known as the “Mid-Summer Derby.”

    The race is restricted to three-year-olds and there is a good chance we will see Triple Crown race winners Orb, Oxbow and Palace Malice in action in the historic race.

    2012 saw one of the most exciting finishes in the long history of the race, when Alpha and Golden Ticket hit the wire together for a dead heat.

    The Travers tradition is to paint the boat in the infield lake with the winning colors of the Travers winner, and last summer the New York Racing Association had to buy a second boat.

Arlington Million Day

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    One of the highlights of the summer for horseplayers is the International Festival of Racing at Arlington Park on Saturday, August 17.

    Some of the best turf runners in the world will converge at Arlington Park for a trio of Grade 1 races including the $1 million Arlington Million (G1).

    Last year’s Arlington Million winner was Little Mike, who went on to cap off his 2012 campaign by winning the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1).

    Supporting the Arlington Million is a pair of Grade 1 races. The $500,000 Secretariat brings together the top three-year-old turf runners, while the $500,000 Beverly D. matches up the best turf fillies and mares. The winners of each of the three races earn automatic starting berths in the Breeders’ Cup as part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” series. 

Keeneland Fall Meeting

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    Keeneland's fall meeting will run from Oct. 4-26 and will feature championship racing that will include several key final preps for Breeders’ Cup contenders. 

    Keeneland is one of the most beautiful and vibrant tracks to visit, and is the most horseplayer friendly racetrack according to the Horseplayers Association of North America, which voted Keeneland on top five years in a row.

    Opening weekend at Keeneland is not to be missed. Dubbed "Fall Stars Weekend," it features nine graded stakes, all with Breeders’ Cup ramifications.

    The marquee event is the $750,000 Shadwell Turf Mile (G1), which was won last year by Wise Dan, who went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) and was named 2012 Horse of the Year. 

Belmont Park Fall Championship Meet

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    Belmont Park’s fall championship meeting gets underway on September 7, and before it is over we will have witnessed 21 graded stakes including many key preps for the Breeders’ Cup.

    On September 28 there are five Grade 1 races including the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup, a major final prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). Flat Out won the race the past two years.

    Top fillies and mares will go in the $400,000 Beldame Invitational, and there are two key turf races: the $600,000 Flower Bowl Invitational for the ladies and the $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational for the boys.

    Two-year-olds take center stage the following weekend, as we may get a preview of next spring’s Kentucky Derby in the $400,000 Champagne (G1). 

Breeders’ Cup

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    The Breeders’ Cup is the year-end championship for horse racing, the Super Bowl, Stanley Cup, the Finals and the World Series wrapped into a two-day event that features 14 races. 

    There are 67 “Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” races run in 10 countries with the winner of each of the races earning an automatic starting berth in the corresponding Breeders’ Cup race.

    The best in every division of racing come together at Santa Anita Park on November 1-2 to compete for over $25 million in purses and year-end championship honors.

    Five Breeders’ Cup races will be run on Friday, including the $2 million Ladies’ Classic (G1), while eight Breeders’ Cup races will be contested on Saturday including the $5 million Classic, which usually determines Horse of the Year honors.

    The $2 million Juvenile winner is usually installed as the early betting favorite for the Kentucky Derby the following spring.