The best US states to visit to see horse racing

As with any sport, horse racing is more popular and certain states and parts of the country than others. These are the best US states to visit if you want to watch thoroughbreds compete.

Believe it or not, there are horse racing hotspots across America. That means for thoroughbred fans, you can combine trips and travel throughout the USA with a day at the races.

As with any sport, horse racing is more popular and certain states and parts of the country than others. These are the best US states to visit if you want to watch thoroughbreds compete.

The Bluegrass State has a big association with horse racing, and arguably the most famous dirt race on Planet Earth, the Kentucky Derby, takes place at Churchill Downs in Louisville every May. They call that event the race for the roses, and it was inspired by its turf equivalent in England, the Epsom Derby.

Racegoers will find the Kentucky Derby is such a big deal that there is a whole series of races on the road to it, taking in events in many other US states and popular horse racing tracks listed below. The eyes of the sporting world, for a couple of minutes at least, are fixed on Churchill Downs. 

If you want to know how to bet the Kentucky Derby right, there are guides available that explain all the different areas that are important to know such as the markets available and how to choose which horse to bet on such as following key trials held at other venues can give you pointers. Horse racing in the Bluegrass State isn’t just about Churchill Downs, though, as Keeneland in Lexington is also a Grade 1 track with important races run in both the spring and fall.

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Fillies Horse Race at Santa Anita Park by Rennett Stowe

On the West Coast, the Golden State is another horse racing hotbed. Southern California is home to three major tracks with Santa Anita Park in LA County, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in San Diego County and Los Alamitos in Orange County all hosting Grade 1 action.

It’s just a half-hour drive from the glitz and glamor of Hollywood to Santa Anita Park. Like Del Mar, both racetracks are popular host venues for when it’s the turn of the West Coast to host the Breeders’ Cup World Championships in the fall during early November.

In 2021, Del Mar has that honor and the Breeders’ Cup brings thoroughbreds from all over the globe to race on both dirt and turf. Many top racehorses will be California dreaming this year.