If you are looking to watch a horse race in New York, then you have more choice than you might think. The state hosts two of the country’s biggest races as well as a number of other interesting events.

The History of Horse Racing in New York 

Horse racing has a long and proud history in New York, stretching all the way back to the 17th century, when the country’s first racetrack was built in Hempstead Plains, near the site of Garden City in our times.

The start of the 19th century saw a surge in interest in horse races, as new tracks sprung up across New York.  Long Island has several racetracks and the popular Union Course became the most important in the region, with spectators watching the action from the comfort of their own carriages.

The Civil War and anti-betting legislation have caused horse racing here to come to a halt at various times, but in the present day there are several top-class races run here.

The Belmont Stakes

In 2020, Tiz the Law won a slightly shorter than normal Belmont Stakes that was carried out behind closed doors due to the health crisis. However, it is expected to get back to normal in 2021, with a date in early June penciled in for the 153rd running of this iconic race.

The very first time the Belmont Stakes was run was back in 1867, at the Jerome Park Racetrack in the Bronx. The name came from the politician August Belmont Sr, who financed the event.  Ruthless was the very first winner.

It moved to Morris Park Racecourse for a few years but ended up in the current setting of Belmont Park in Elmont, Long Island in 1905. The race became part of the famed Triple Crown of horse races, with Sir Barton the first to claim this prestigious trio of prizes, in 1919.

Over the years, famous victories have been recorded by horses such as Man o’ War and Secretariat, whose winning time is still the record.  It is known as the Test of the Champion and just about every famous American horse has competed here over the years.

With the Triple Crown going back to its normal dates in 2021, you can check the current Kentucky Derby odds to see which horses are in the best form in the run-up to this race. Click here to find out more: https://www.twinspires.com/kentuckyderby/odds

The Travers Stakes

This race is known as the Mid-Summer Derby and it is run each year at the Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs. Its history can be traced back to 1864 and it gets its name from William R. Travers, who was the president of the Saratoga Racing Association. 

Among the most emblematic moments of this event is when the winner receives a blanket of around 1,500 red and white carnations. Winners also receive the Man o’ War trophy, named after the horse that famously won it in 1920.

Another notable winner was Whirlaway, who in 1941 become the only horse to claim a Travers Stakes victory as well as the Triple Crown. Possibly the most memorable Travers Stakes event came in 1962, when Jaipur beat Ridan by a tiny margin after an intriguing battle from start to finish. 

2020 was the year of Tiz the Law, who won this race with jockey Manuel France. The 2021 race should see crowds allowed back in, but the official date for this meeting hasn’t yet been published at the time of writing.

There are plenty of other horse races held in New York through the year, from the Alabama Stakes to the Jimmy Winkfield Stakes and the Long Island Handicap. If you enjoy watching these races then there are plenty of options to choose from across the state.