The United States is the home of many major horse racing events that are viewed in all corners of the planet. There are historic events that have been going on for more than 100 years, and more recently established events that have grown in popularity and offer huge prize purses.
But what is more important when determining which is the biggest race overall? Does an event's historical significance hold a larger bearing than the potential earnings on offer?
The Breeders' Cup Classic
The Breeders' Cup Classic was inaugurated less than 40 years ago with the first event having run in 1984. Despite being a much more modern integration than some other events, it has emerged as one of the major races in the world.
It represents the final major race on the US calendar, meaning we are yet to be treated to the stunning spectacle in 2023. In a bet on horse racing with Paddy Power, Arcangelo is the outright favorite to win the event at odds of +250. Geaux Rocket Ride is seen as the most likely competitor offered at +500 in a Breeders' Cup bet online.
The Breeders' Cup Classic offers the largest prize purse of any US horse race, it was around $6 million in 2022. Flightline was the champion in 2022 and claimed the largest share of the purse as a result.
The headline event is placed as one of the most lucrative races in the entire world when it comes to events that do not require huge entry fees.
The standout event at the Breeders' Cup is also extremely exclusive but for competitive reasons. 'Win and you're in' events are held all over the globe, meaning that major race winners from various regions come together to contest a true world championship.
Did you know that, since 1984, 16 different countries have bred a #BreedersCup champion?— Breeders' Cup (@BreedersCup) September 1, 2023
The history of the Breeders' Cup runs deeps. Learn more about the 40th Running at @santaanitapark: https://t.co/MRGl2VhhJX 🏆 pic.twitter.com/JY4kCuBA1Y
The Breeders' Cup Classic offers arguably the strongest competition of any US event due to its huge international participation. The huge prize it offers to the frontrunner is of course another huge factor in regards to its status in America and beyond.
The Kentucky Derby
The Kentucky Derby has a level of prestige that no other race in the nation can compare to. It is the oldest race in the United States having run since 1875, and is one of the oldest races on Earth in general. Next year's event will represent the 150th anniversary of the Kentucky Derby with plans well underway to celebrate the occasion.
There were 3️⃣ Triple Crown winners in the 1930's.— Kentucky Derby (@KentuckyDerby) September 1, 2023
Can you name all three? ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/F42IlMF0Ot
It certainly represents the pinnacle of the triple crown of racing, with the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes not quite capturing the same level of worldwide interest.
The race is hugely significant in the sporting world and is commonly known as 'the most exciting two minutes in sports'. It is undoubtedly the most famous race of the traditional triple crown of US racing.
The Derby also brings in the biggest in-person viewers, with an attendance of 150,335 at the 2023 event making it one of the highest attended contests in the history of sport.
Churchill Downs - where the Kentucky Derby is held - boasts a capacity of 170,000. Meanwhile, the Breeders' Cup venue alternates each year and this year it will be held at Santa Anita Park which has a maximum capacity of just 85,000. The latter prioritizes a high level of competition and wide representation over ticket revenue.
The Derby certainly has a level of history and prestige that can topple a majority of the horse racing events held all around the world. However, the Breeders' Cup Classic offers a truly international competition, which allows the Derby winner to face off against some of the strongest horses around the world in the succeeding event.
The Breeders' Cup Classic crowns a genuine World Champion - a title that the Derby simply does not offer to the winner. Prestige is always a factor, but the newer competition's superior prize purse and stronger and more diverse competition make it arguably the biggest race in the US right now.
There are more interesting articles in our section on Racing & Wagering.