The horse racing season is relentless, with huge races taking place every weekend. However, the Grade 1s are the races that the majority of fans will have their sights firmly set on.
Between now and the end of the year, there are a number of excellent races beginning to take shape, but which races are among the most exciting?
The oldest stakes race for three-year-olds in the United States will take place at the end of August in the Saratoga Race Course and it is already shaping up to be a fascinating renewal. Saratoga Race Course is a horse-racing track in Saratoga Springs, one of the most famous in the USA.
Horses involved will cover a distance of 1 ¼ miles on the dirt, with both male and female horses allowed to enter. The purse for the race this year is $1,250,000, and that will attract some of the biggest names in the sport.
Medina Spirit could be one of the most eye-catching entries for the race, as the Bob Baffert-trained horse could make his return to the track. The three-year-old hasn’t been seen since finishing third in the Preakness Stakes after winning the Kentucky Derby.
His entry could make for a fascinating renewal against Essential Quality. The Brad Cox-trained horse has suffered just one defeat, with that coming in the Preakness.
Since then, he has won the Belmont Stakes and the Jim Dandy Stakes. Midnight Bourbon, Keepmeinmind and King Fury could also be set to line up in the Travers.
Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
The race that needs no introduction will be staged in October at Longchamp, as horses look to join past greats and win the Group 1. The Arc remains the most prestigious race in Europe over the flat, as horses compete over a distance of 1 ½ miles.
This year’s race is already looking set to become one of the most exciting in recent memory, with interesting horses dominating the top of the betting.
Snowfall, trained by Aidan O’Brien, has enjoyed a phenomenal season as a three-year-old, as she has won on all three starts. Few could have expected to see the dominance that she has shown this season, as she won just once in seven starts last season. However, this year, she has been simply breathtaking.
She opened her season with a three and three-quarter length victory over Noon Star in the Musidora, before claiming one of the most dominant Epsom Oaks wins ever, beating Mystery Angel by 16 lengths. Her progression continued at The Curragh, winning the Irish Oaks by eight and a half lengths.
Adayar could be the most interesting rival to Snowfall, as the Derby winner has continued to exceed expectations. The Charlie Appleby three-year-old has won two from four this season, with his wins coming in two of the most famous races.
His Derby win was recorded by four and a half lengths, but he continued to amaze in the King George & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, beating Mishriff by over a length to become the first Derby winner in 20 years to win both races in the same year. An Arc battle between the two could be next up.
Breeders’ Cup Classic
All eyes will be on Del Mar in November, as the biggest flat race of the season in America is staged. The Breeders’ Cup Classic offers a chance for horses to become legends, as they race over 1 ¼ miles for a purse of $6 million. Like all years, the Classic looks a particularly hard race to call given the amount of star power that will be involved.
The most likely entrants already include Belmont Stakes hero Essential Quality, as well as Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit. Hot Rod Charlie has come close to claiming his elusive Grade 1 throughout the season, and will also likely be a main player.
Knicks Go has continued to catch the eye throughout the season, as the Pegasus World Cup winner added Whitney Stakes glory to his collection recently. Maxfield was beaten by Knicks Go in that recent Whitney renewal, which was just the second defeat that he has suffered. However, his ability remains. Letruska has continued to impress this season, and has added Grade 1 victories in the forms of the Apple Blossom and Ogden Phipps. She could be the leading mare in the race should connections opt for the Classic over the Distaff.