If you’re a true horse racing fan, then you understand the beauty and attraction of some of the top horse race tracks in the world. Aside from the horses and jockeys, the top horse race tracks are what make this sport so popular — there’s nothing quite like it when you see them in person.
Horse racing dates back thousands of years, making it one of the world’s greatest pastimes. Some records indicate that it was a prominent event in a variety of civilizations before making its way to the Western world, including Babylon, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Egypt, and Syria.
In fact, both mounted and chariot horse racing were featured in the Ancient Greek Olympics back in 648 BC. Today, horse racing is one of the most popular sports across the globe with some races welcoming millions of spectators and viewers — whether in-person or at home.
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One of the things that makes horse racing so popular is the fact that it’s one of the only sports you can legally gamble on in most states and countries around the world. It not only sparks a lot of interest by fans of the sport, but the horse racing track industry is a multi-billion dollar industry.
Ranking the Top Horse Race Tracks?
Whether you’re a jockey, horse breeder, gambler, or spectator, there are certain horse race tracks around the world that are worth a visit. Whether it be the architecture involved, the history attached to it, or the beautiful sights they bring, some horse racing tracks reign supreme.
If you’re a true fan of the sport, we’re going to list through some of the top horse race tracks in the world. You can think of it as your own little bucket list, giving you an overview of all the tracks you don’t want to miss. As you read through, count how many of them you’ve visited!
Without further ado, let’s see which race horse tracks are in a league of their own!
25. Laurel Park – Laurel, Maryland
Laurel Park, previously known as Laurel Race Course, is a 1.125-mile thoroughbred racetrack located at 198 Laurel Race Track Rd. in Laurel, Maryland. It opened on October 2, 1911 and has seen a lot of improvements since then. It used to host the Washington D.C. International Stakes.
In fact, there have been a lot of rumors that the owners want to move the Preakness Pass to Laurel Park. Though it’s unlikely that will happen, at least in the near future, it’s a true testament of how highly people think of it — which is why it’s featured on our list of top horse race tracks.
24. Tampa Bay Downs – Tampa, Florida
Tampa Bay Downs, previously known as Tampa Downs, is a one-mile thoroughbred racetrack located at 11225 Race Track Rd. in Tampa, Florida. The dirt track was established in 1926 and is the only race track on the west coast of Florida that features thoroughbred horse racing.
Some of the most popular races it hosts are the Tampa Bay Derby, Hillsborough Stakes, Tampa Bay Stakes, and Endeavour Stakes. In 1998, a turf course was added to Tampa Bay Downs, adding to the attraction it brings. It also features a 22-acre golf practice facility and poker room.
23. Monmouth Park Racetrack – Oceanport, New Jersey
Monmouth Park Racetrack is a popular thoroughbred racetrack located at 175 Oceanport Ave. in Oceanport, New Jersey. It was established in 1870 and features a one-mile dirt oval and a seven furlong turf course. It’s owned by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.
Some of the most popular races at Monmouth Park include the Haskell Invitational Handicap, United Nations Stakes, and the Monmouth Stakes. It also features a miniature golf course and a sportsbook by William Hill, making it the first location to offer legal sports betting in New Jersey.
22. Aqueduct Racetrack – Queens, New York
Aqueduct Racetrack is a three-course thoroughbred racetrack located at 110-00 Rockaway Blvd. in Queens, New York. It was established in 1894 and is the only racetrack inside New York City limits — located next to Resorts World New York City, the first legal casino in the area.
It features a 1.125-mile dirt oval, one-mile turf course, and 1.065 furlong turf course. Some of the most popular horse races at the Aqueduct Racetrack include the Carter Handicap, the Cigar Mile Handicap, the Remsen Stakes, the Gazelle Stakes, and the Demoiselle Stakes.
21. Hialeah Park Race Track – Hialeah, Florida
Hialeah Park was a one-mile dirt race track for thoroughbred horse racing located at 100 E 32nd St. in Hialeah, Florida. It originally opened in 1922 as a greyhound track, but opened its doors to thoroughbred racing in 1925. It’s one of the most iconic race tracks in the United States.
Unfortunately, it stopped hosting horse racing in 2001 due to a change in Florida law. Since then, it has become one of the most popular casinos in Florida and offers year-round simulcasting. It’s such an iconic and historic track that it’s listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
20. Kentucky Downs – Franklin, Kentucky
Kentucky Downs is a one-mile thoroughbred race track that’s located at 5629 Nashville Rd. in Franklin, Kentucky — on the Kentucky-Tennessee border. It’s a European-style track featuring a turf surface, opposed to dirt. It’s also not your typical oval shape, adding to its uniqueness.
It opened its doors in 1990 and has quickly become one of the top horse race tracks in the world. Some of the most popular races held at Kentucky Downs include the Calumet Turf Cup, the Mint Million, and the Franklin-Simpson Stakes. It’s a must-see attraction for any fan.
19. Fair Grounds Race Course – New Orleans, Louisiana
Fair Grounds Race Course, also known as New Orleans Fair Grounds, is a one-mile dirt race track for thoroughbred horses. It was established in 1838 and is located at 1751 Gentilly Blvd. in New Orleans, Louisiana. Fair Grounds Race Course also features a seven furlong turf oval.
The race track’s most popular race is the Louisiana Derby, which is a preparatory race for the Kentucky Derby. Some of the other popular races at Fair Grounds include the Fair Grounds Oaks, New Orleans Handicap, Rachel Alexandra Stakes, and the Risen Star Stakes.
18. Arlington International Racecourse – Arlington Heights, Illinois
Arlington International Racecourse, previously known as Arlington Park, is a thoroughbred race track located at 2200 Euclid Ave. in Arlington Heights, Illinois. It features a 1.125-mile dirt course and one-mile turf oval. It’s one of the most historic horse racing tracks in the United States.
For example, it was the first race track to feature a $1 million purse, which happened in 1981. It was also the first track to feature a PA system. Despite its prominence in the horse racing industry, the owners announced plans in early 2021 to sell the property for redevelopment.
17. Woodbine Racetrack – Etobicoke, Ontario
Woodbine Racetrack is a three-course race track located at 555 Rexdale Blvd. in Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada. It was established in 1956 and features a 1.5-mile turf course (E.P Taylor), one-mile synthetic course, and a 0.875-mile crushed limestone dirt course (for harness racing).
The race track is home to the most famous horse race in all of Canada — Queen’s Plate, which is Canada’s version of the Kentucky Derby. It’s also home of the Northern Dancer Turf Stakes, Breeders’ Stakes, Woodbine Mile, Canadian International, and the E.P. Taylor Stakes.
16. Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort – Hot Springs, Arkansas
Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort, previously known as Oaklawn Park Race Track, is a one-mile thoroughbred race track located at 2705 Central Ave. in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It opened its doors on February 24, 1905 — a date that the city declared a holiday to celebrate the occasion.
The race track is most known for ‘The Racing Festival of the South,’ which is a four-day event that consists of the Rebel Stakes, Oaklawn Handicap, Apple Blossom Handicap, and Arkansas Derby. Oaklawn also features a full casino with slot machines, card games, and much more.
15. Gulfstream Park – Hallandale Beach, Florida
Gulfstream Park is a three-course race track located at 901 S Federal Hwy. in Hallandale Beach, Florida. It’s one of the most prominent tracks in the United States from December to October, which includes the Florida Derby, Pegasus World Cup, and Pegasus World Cup Turf.
The course features a 1.125-mile dirt oval, a one-mile synthetic Tarpeta track, and a seven furlong turf course. It’s home to the richest annual events in the US on both dirt and turf surfaces. Gulfstream was established in 1939 and also features a county-approved casino.
14. Del Mar Thoroughbred Club – Del Mar, California
The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club is a two-course thoroughbred race track located at 2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd. in Del Mar, California. It was founded by Hollywood celebrities Bing Crosby, Pat O’Brien, Gary Cooper, Joe E. Brown, Charles S. Howard, and Oliver Hardy in 1937.
The track features a one-mile dirt oval and a 0.875-mile turf course. It’s largely known for the ‘where the turf meets the surf’ slogan, due to its close proximity to the Pacific Ocean. It’s home to the Bing Crosby Stakes, Pacific Classic, Del Mar Oaks, and Del Mar Debutante Stakes.
13. Keeneland Race Course – Lexington, Kentucky
The Keeneland Race Course is a two-course thoroughbred race track located at 4201 Versailles Rd. in Lexington, Kentucky. It was established in 1937, featuring a 1.0625-mile dirt oval and a 7.5-furlong turf oval. It holds a 15-day meet in the spring and a 17-day meet in the fall.
The spring meet features 15 graded stakes, including the Blue Grass Stakes — one of the most prominent preparatory races for the Kentucky Derby. The fall meet features 17 graded stakes that are preparatory races for the Breeders’ Cup. It’s also a National Historic Landmark (1986).
12. Pimlico Race Course – Baltimore, Maryland
Pimlico Race Course, nicknamed ‘Old Hilltop,’ is a two-course thoroughbred race track located at 5201 Park Heights Ave. in Baltimore, Maryland. It was established in 1870, featuring a one-mile dirt oval and seven-furlong turf oval. It can house an incredible 120,000 people.
The track is most known for hosting the Preakness Pass, the second leg of the Triple Crown. It’s one of the first race tracks to encourage a party atmosphere and attracts a ton of big-name celebrities each year. It also hosts the Dinner Party Stakes and the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes.
11. Belmont Park – Elmont, New York
Belmont Park, nicknamed ‘Big Sandy,’ is a three-course race track located at 2150 Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont, New York. It was established in 1905, featuring a 1.5-mile dirt oval (Main Track), a 1.3125-mile turf course (Widener Turf Course), and a 1.1875-mile inner turf course.
The track is most known for hosting the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown. It features a two-month spring meet and one-month fall meet. Outside of the Belmont Stakes, it also hosts the Woodward Stakes, the Met Mile, the Suburban Handicap, and much more.
10. Santa Anita Park – Arcadia, California
Santa Anita Park, formerly known as Rancho Santa Anita, is a two-course race track located at 285 W Huntington Dr. in Arcadia, California. It was established in 1934 and was nicknamed ‘The Great Race Place.’ It features a one-mile natural dirt oval and a 0.9-mile inner turf course.
The track is most known for the Santa Anita Derby and Santa Anita Handicap, but it has also hosted the Breeders’ Cup ten times — including in 2016 and 2019. It also hosts the Shoemaker Mile Stakes, Rodeo Drive Stakes, Malibu Stakes, La Brea Stakes, American Oaks, and more.
9. Aintree Racecourse – Liverpool, England
Aintree Racecourse is a three-course race track located at Ormskirk Rd. in Liverpool, England. The Grand National course is a two-mile track with 16 fences, three open ditches, and a water jump. It also features a smaller version called The Mildmay Course and the Hurdles’ Course.
The track is home to one of the most difficult steeplechases in the entire world — known as the Grand National steeplechase — measuring four miles and 514 yards long. It also features a golf course and is frequently used for motor racing and concerts. It’s a one-of-its-kind course.
8. Flemington Racecourse – Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Flemington Racecourse is a 1.437-mile race track located at 448 Epsom Rd. in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. It’s owned by the Victoria Racing Club, a merger between the Victoria Turf Club and Victoria Jockey Club. Flemington Racecourse was officially established in 1840.
The track is most known as the home of the Melbourne Cup — the richest handicap and 3200 meter race in the world. It can house more than 120,000 people and features three grandstands, making it quite the attraction among horse racing fans. It also hosts the Victoria Derby.
7. Tokyo Racecourse – Fuchu, Tokyo
Tokyo Racecourse is a three-course race track located in Fuchu city in Tokyo, Japan. It was established in 1933 and features a 1.25-mile grass course, a 1.125-mile dirt track, and a one-mile steeplechase track. As of 2007, the track includes the world’s largest video screen.
Known as ‘the racecourse of racecourses’ in Japan, the Tokyo Racecourse is home to the Japan Cup, the Japanese Derby, the Yasuda Kinen, the Tenno Sho, the Japanese Oaks, the Victoria Mile, the NHK Mile Cup, and much more. It can seat an incredible 230,000 people.
6. Saratoga Race Course – Saratoga Springs, New York
Saratoga Race Course is a three-course race track located at 267 Union Ave. in Saratoga Springs, New York. It was established in 1863 and is one of the oldest sports venues in the world. If you’re a fan of horse racing, Saratoga Race Course is a must for your bucket list.
The track features a 1.125-mile main dirt track, a one-mile turf track, and a seven-furlong inner turf track. Although the Saratoga meet was originally just four days long, it has expanded to a total of 40 days in recent years — including the Alabama Stakes and Saratoga Derby.
5. Meydan Racecourse – Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Meydan Racecourse, which replaced the former Nad Al Sheba Racecourse, is a two-course race track located at Al Meydan Road in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It was established in 2010 and features a 2,400 meter turf race track and 8.75-furlong dirt course — both left-handed.
What makes this race track so unique is the mile-long grandstand that seats over 60,000 people. It’s home to some of the richest races, including the Dubai World Cup, Dubai Golden Shaheen, Dubai Sheema Classic, Dubai Turf, Godolphin Mile, and Jebel Hatta.
4. Epsom Downs Racecourse – Epsom, Surrey, England
Epsom Downs Racecourse is a one-course race track that’s located in Epsom, Surrey, England. It features a 1.5-mile track and is known for its large crowds — which are upwards of 130,000 people — due to the races being open to the public. It’s definitely worth a visit.
Some of the most prominent horse races that take place at Epsom Downs Racecourse are the Derby Stakes (also known as ‘The Derby’), the Oaks Stakes, and the Coronation Cup. It’s also frequently visited by the Queen of England, which is a testament to how iconic and historic it is.
3. ParisLongchamp – Paris, France
ParisLongchamp Racecourse is one of the most complicated and difficult race tracks in the world. It was established in 1857 and is located at 2 Rte des Tribunes in Paris, France. It features several courses with interlaced tracks at varying distances, including a famous hill.
The Longchamp course is extremely important to the horse racing industry in France, hosting more than half of all Group One races taking place in the country — including the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. If you’re visiting Paris in the fall, you’ll definitely want to add it to your bucket list.
2. Ascot Racecourse – Ascot, Berkshire, England
Ascot Racecourse is one of the most prominent venues in Britain. It was established in 1711 when Queen Anne stumbled upon the land and immediately knew what it was destined for. Since then, it has become a national institution and one of Britain’s most valuable properties.
In fact, Ascot is the highlight of the British social calendar. It features an 18-day meet between April and October, as well as an 8-day meet between October and March. You won’t want to miss the Royal Meeting, Royal Ascot, and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
1. Churchill Downs – Louisville, Kentucky
Churchill Downs is a two-course thoroughbred race track located at 700 Central Ave. in Louisville, Kentucky. It was established in 1875, featuring a one-mile dirt main track and a 0.875-mile inner turf track. Though it seats 50,000, crowds generally surpass 150,000.
The track is most known for hosting the Kentucky Derby, one of the most prominent races in the entire world. It also hosts the Kentucky Oaks, Churchill Downs Stakes, Turf Classic Stakes, La Troienne Stakes, Clark Handicap, Derby City Distaff Stakes, and more throughout the year.
Have You Visited Any of the Top Horse Race Tracks?
Millions of people tune in to horse racing every single year at the comfort of their own home, but there’s nothing quite like visiting one of the top horse race tracks in the world and seeing the action in-person. It’s what makes horse racing such a unique and interesting pastime.
The real question is how many of the top horse race tracks have you already visited and which ones do you plan on visiting soon? There are a ton of beautiful venues to choose from and they’re located all over the world, making these tracks an amazing addition to your bucket list.
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Of course, there are some tracks that didn’t make it onto our list of the 25 top horse race tracks in the world — including Meadowlands, Ruidoso Downs, Lone Star Park, and Parx. If you get to a point where you’ve visited all the parks listed above, you should definitely give those four a try!
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