Horse racing in the United States is an industry which has certainly had its peaks and troughs and is scattered across the country. It can be traced back to the mid-1600s which is not surprising given the English colonial heritage of many areas in the US.


Also predictably it is States such as New York and New Jersey where racing took a foothold early as these were much closer geographically to the United Kingdom.


Some of the major racetracks in the US are well known around the world. Hollywood Park, Del Mar and Santa Anita are several main ones on the West Coast in California while back East Pimlico, Aqueduct, Monmouth Park and Belmont Park are significant players. More centrally located courses include Arlington Park in Illinois and Churchill Downs in Kentucky.


Thoroughbred racing hasn’t got the broader appeal in America that it has in mainstream media and culture like it does in countries like Australia, New Zealand, in Asia like Hong Kong and Singapore and in the entire British Isles plus on the European continent.


Gambling restrictions/laws are all sanctioned and regulated by each individual State and this plays a large part in a diverse view of the sport, as compared to comprehensive marketing and advertising campaigns which are far different in jurisdictions like say Australia.


Another reason there are some areas which affect the US racing scene is the use of drugs while in competition. While there is an attempt to move away from the use of medication like Lasix, it has caused divisions within the industry there.


The most famous race in America, and as known around the world, is the Kentucky Derby. Held as the first leg of the US Triple Crown for three year olds, it is run over ten furlongs on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs in Louisville Kentucky.


Run on the dirt, it was first contested in 1875 and is known as the "Run For The Roses" with the garland draped over the winners. It has also been coined "The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports" by the US media and is raced in front of crowds well into the six figured range. 165,000 turned up in 2012.


The second leg of the Triple Crown is the Preakness over one mile and three sixteenths (1900m) at Pimlico while the final leg is at Belmont Park in New York and is the Belmont Stakes. This is the tough one being a mile and a half.


The Triple Crown itself has only been completed on eleven occasions with the most recent being Affirmed in 1978. However the most celebrated of them all is Secretariat. He set records in these events that are staggering. He would also go onto a distinguished stud career.


He was that much of an influence during his time that he even sired a Melbourne Cup winner when the Bart Cummings trained Kingston Rule scored in 1990.


The other major racing carnival in the United States is the Breeders' Cup. This is a Championship Series which has been transferred around the US each year since its inception in 1984. There are specific races for various ages, distances and sex and some are run on dirt while others are on the turf.


Some of the legends of American racing have dominated the Breeders' Cup. Mike Smith and Jerry Bailey have dominated the jockey ranks while D Wayne Lukas has an amazing 19 winners.


Some highlights include French mare Goldikova managing to win the Mile three times in a row while Zenyatta was looking to be retired undefeated after 20 runs but came from literally a mile away to get beaten a nose in the Breeders' Cup Classic in 2010.


Another grand figure in US racing history is Robert J (Bobby) Frankel. He trained over 3600 winners and had scores of Grade 1 triumphs. Of course, he was also afforded another great legacy with the naming of a Galileo colt in his honour who would be trained by Sir Henry Cecil and forever stand in greatness as the almighty Frankel.


US participants have also had good success overseas with several wins at major meetings such the Dubai World Cup, including its inaugural winner Cigar and in 2013 the race was won by a Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom who had been part purchased by Australian interests with John Messara from Arrowfield Stud a significant owner.


They have also had noteworthy deeds at Royal meeting at Ascot with trainer Wesley Ward winning several races in 2009 just off the top level including the Windsor Castle with Strike The Tiger, the Queen Mary with Jealous Again and then in 2013 he won the Norfolk Stakes with No Nay Never.


Official Racing and Sports