when does horse racing start in kentucky

The Kentucky Derby is an annual horse race held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, every first Saturday in May. The race is open to three-year-old Thoroughbreds and is considered the most prestigious race in the United States. The Derby is part of the Triple Crown, along with the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. The race was first run in 1875 and has been held annually ever since, except for during World War II.

Kentucky Derby Schedule and Dates

The Kentucky Derby is one of the most prestigious horse races in the world, and it’s held every year at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. The race is always held on the first Saturday in May, and it’s one of the most exciting events on the horse racing calendar.

The Kentucky Derby is open to three-year-old Thoroughbred horses, and the race is run over a distance of 1 1/4 miles. The race is known for its challenging track conditions, and it’s not uncommon for horses to fall or be injured during the race.

Kentucky Derby Schedule

  • Wednesday, April 30: The Kentucky Oaks, a race for three-year-old fillies, is held at Churchill Downs.
  • Thursday, May 1: The Kentucky Derby Festival Great Steamboat Race is held on the Ohio River.
  • Friday, May 2: The Kentucky Derby Festival Pegasus Parade is held in downtown Louisville.
  • Saturday, May 3: The Kentucky Derby is held at Churchill Downs.

The Kentucky Derby is a major event in Louisville, and the city is always buzzing with excitement during the race week. There are a number of events held throughout the week, including concerts, parties, and parades. And of course, there’s the race itself, which is always an unforgettable experience.

If you’re planning to attend the Kentucky Derby, be sure to book your tickets and hotel reservations early. The race is always a sellout, and prices can be high.

Kentucky Derby Winners
2019Country HouseFlavien PratBill Mott
2018JustifyMike SmithBob Baffert
2017Always DreamingJohn VelazquezTodd Pletcher
2016NyquistMario GutierrezDoug O’Neill
2015American PharoahVictor EspinozaBob Baffert

History of Horse Racing in Kentucky

The history of horse racing in Kentucky dates back to the early 19th century, when settlers from Virginia and the Carolinas brought their love of the sport to the Bluegrass State. The first organized horse race in Kentucky was held in 1823, and the Kentucky Derby was first run in 1875.

Kentucky quickly became a major center for horse racing, and the state’s equine industry has played a vital role in the state’s economy and culture.

Key Dates in the History of Horse Racing in Kentucky

  1. 1823: First organized horse race in Kentucky
  2. 1875: First Kentucky Derby
  3. 1894: Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, opens
  4. 1937: Calumet Farm, one of the most successful Thoroughbred racing operations in history, is founded
  5. 1973: Secretariat wins the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes in record-breaking fashion
  6. 2004: Smarty Jones wins the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, but finishes second in the Belmont Stakes
  7. 2015: American Pharoah wins the Triple Crown

Major Horse Racing Events in Kentucky

  • Kentucky Derby (first Saturday in May)
  • Kentucky Oaks (first Friday in May)
  • Breeder’s Cup World Championships (first weekend in November)
  • Keeneland Fall Meet (October and November)
  • Ellis Park Race Course (May through September)

Kentucky is home to some of the most prestigious horse racing tracks in the world, including Churchill Downs, Keeneland, and Ellis Park. The state’s horse racing industry generates billions of dollars in economic activity each year.

When Does the Thrilling Season of Thoroughbred Races Start in the Blue Grass State?

Kentucky, renowned as the “Horse Notice capital of the United States,” welcomes horse enthusiasts from far and wide for its electrifying season of Thoroughbred horse competitions. While the exact opening day can vary slightly from year to year, the highly-anticipated 2023 season is projected to kick-off around the 8th of April at the iconic Churchill Downs.

Highlighting the Renown of Churchill Downs

As home to the legendary “Run for the Roses,” the prestigious Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs stands as a cornerstone of the American horse-racing scene. In addition to this prestigious event, Churchill Downs also proudly organizes other major horse-racing events throughout the season, captivating fans with the thrilling spectacle of Thoroughbreds vying for victory.

Additional Prestigious Rac

1. Keen\-Eland

  • Opening Day: 4th April
  • Prestigious Event: The Blue Grass Stakes

2. Ellis Park Rac

  • Opening Day: 29th June
  • Prestigious Event: The Spiral Stakes

3. The Red Telet Rac

  • Opening Day: 18th August
  • Prestigious Event: The Pegasus Stakes

4. Belmon

  • Opening Day: 10th September
  • Prestigious Event: The Belmont Stakes

Table: Key Details on The Three Phases of The Thoroughbred Season

| Season | Time-frame | Highlights |
| Prep Season | January – March | Horses undergo rigorous training and conditioning. |
| Racing Season | April – November | Horses hit the ground running, thrilling fans with their electrifying contests |
| Off- Season | December | Horses receive some well-deserved rest and rejuvenation |

Thoroughbred Season Time-frame

Kentucky Horse Racing Season: A Guide

Kentucky is renowned for its rich horse racing tradition, and the excitement of the sport reaches its peak during the iconic Kentucky Derby. If you’re planning a trip to the Bluegrass State to witness the spectacle firsthand, here’s a comprehensive guide to the Kentucky horse racing season:

Pre-Derby Season

  • Early April: Churchill Downs opens for live racing, marking the start of the pre-Derby season.
  • End of April: The Kentucky Oaks, a prestigious race for 3-year-old fillies, is held at Churchill Downs.

Kentucky Derby Day

The Kentucky Derby, the first leg of the Triple Crown, is the most anticipated event of the season. It takes place on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs:

Kentucky DerbyFirst Saturday in May

Post-Derby Season

  • Spring Meet: The racing season continues at Churchill Downs until early July, featuring a schedule of Grade 1 and Grade 2 races.
  • Summer Meet: The racing action moves to Ellis Park Race Course in Henderson, Kentucky, from July to September.
  • Fall Meet: Churchill Downs hosts its final live racing meet of the season in September and October.

Betting on Horse Races in Kentucky

If you’re looking to place bets on Kentucky horse races, here are a few options:

  • At the Racetrack: Place bets in person at Churchill Downs or Ellis Park Race Course.
  • Off-Track Betting (OTB) Facilities: Visit designated OTB locations throughout Kentucky to bet on races.
  • Online Betting: Kentucky does not currently allow online horse race betting, but adjacent states like Indiana do.

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