Horse racing, as a sport, has existed for thousands of years. Since the days of ancient Babylon, people have been racing horses in one way or another. The modern iteration of the sport can be traced back to the Victorian era. It began in England, and quickly spread through the rest of Europe, eventually reaching US shores. 

Today, the sport remains quite popular, especially in the world of betting. Different horse racing competitions are held around the world, many of which offer some intense betting matches. In 2023, you can bet on horse racing anywhere, using the various online sportsbooks. These websites cover everything from flat racing, to steeplechases, to even more obscure competitions like harness racing. So, let us take a look at the most famous horse races in 2023. 

The Kentucky Derby

Without a doubt the most popular racing competition in the world, the Kentucky Derby is an annual horse racing event held in the first week of May. While it may not be the most attended or the most watched, the Kentucky-based competition is certainly the most famous. The main reason for this is that some of the most notable equestrian athletes in history have trod the Kentucky Derby tracks. From Secretariat to Sea Biscuit to War Admiral, the Derby has produced some mega stars in the world of horse racing. 

The Kentucky Derby is the first leg of the Triple Crown. The other two races include the Preakness Stakes, held in Baltimore, Maryland, and the Belmont Stakes, held in Elmont, New York. The three together make up one of the most notable trinity of horse racing competitions, and a horse that has won the Triple Crown is certain to go down in history as one of the greats. 

The Grand National

From the USA, we head over to England, where the Grand National takes place every year in Liverpool. Held at the Aintree Racecourse, this historic event is one of the most famous steeplechases in the world. The four-mile track is obscured by 16 jumps, making the Grand National quite a difficult task, both for the horse, as well as the jockey. For their trouble, however, the winners are awarded $1 million, making the Grand National one of the richest races in world right now. 

Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe 

The French have their own staple of horse racing. The Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe takes place on the first Sunday of October. Held at the Longchamp Racecourse in Paris, France, the race brings the excitement and glamor that one would expect from France. 

The Arc’s inaugural race took place in 1920, and has been going strong for over a hundred years. Accompanied by champagne, jazz, elegance, and a lot of glamor, the French competition is one of the most anticipated in the world. 

Horses run 1.5 miles over a turf track in 17 different races. The tension and excitement grows with each race, as the purse gets bigger and bigger, for a maximum of $5.6 million. With such a high purse, it is the richest competition in Europe, and certainly the most prestigious. 

Honorable Mentions 

While the three races we discussed are certainly incredibly popular and prestigious, they are not the only ones worth discussing when talking about horse races. The Dubai World Cup is one of the most notable sports events in the world, held annually in Dubai. The Melbourne Cup has won the hearts and minds of Australians, and is the biggest horse race in the land down under. Finally, who can forget the Royal Ascot, one of England’s most prestigious, glamorous, and notable events?

Photo Credit: Joshua Woroniecki