when does horse racing start

Horse racing has a long and storied history, with evidence of it being practiced as early as 4500 BC in Central Asia. The first recorded horse race in the Western world was held in Greece in 648 BC, as part of the Olympic Games. Horse racing quickly became a popular sport in Greece and Rome, and it was later introduced to England by the Romans. The first recorded horse race in England was held in 1174, and the sport quickly gained popularity there as well. Horse racing continues to be a popular sport around the world today, with major races held in countries such as England, the United States, France, and Japan.

Historical Origins of Horse Racing

Horse racing has a long and storied history, dating back thousands of years to the earliest civilizations.

Here are some key events in the evolution of horse racing:

  • Chariot racing was a popular sport in ancient Greece and Rome. The earliest chariot races were held in Olympia, Greece, in 680 B.C.
  • Horseback riding became more common in the Middle Ages, and horse racing began to take shape as a sport. The first recorded horse race in England was held in 1174.
  • Thoroughbred racing, the most popular form of horse racing today, began in England in the 17th century. The first Epsom Derby, one of the most prestigious horse races in the world, was held in 1780.

Horse racing has continued to grow in popularity over the centuries, and it is now a major industry worldwide.

680 B.C.First chariot race held in Olympia, Greece
1174First recorded horse race in England
17th centuryThoroughbred racing begins in England
1780First Epsom Derby held

When Does Horse Racing Start?

The horse racing season varies depending on the region. In general, racing seasons run from spring to fall in the Northern Hemisphere and fall to spring in the Southern Hemisphere. Many tracks do have year-round racing or host races at special events, such as the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May.

Regional Variations in Horse Racing Seasons

Horse racing seasons vary depending on the following regional differences:

  • Climate: In colder climates, racing is typically suspended during the winter months due to frozen tracks and inclement weather.
  • Traditions: Some tracks have long-standing traditions that dictate the start and end of their racing seasons, such as Saratoga Race Course in New York, which traditionally opens on the fourth of July.
  • Track Surface: Different track surfaces, such as dirt, turf, and synthetics, can also influence the racing season as some tracks may not be suitable for racing during certain times of the year.

Here’s a table summarizing the typical racing seasons for major regions:

RegionTypical Racing Season
Northern HemisphereSpring to Fall (April/May to October/November)
Southern HemisphereFall to Spring (September/October to March/April)
Year-Round RacingCalifornia, Florida, Arizona

It’s worth noting that the specific start and end dates of horse racing seasons can vary from year to year and should be checked with the individual tracks or racing jurisdictions for the most accurate information.

Major Horse Racing Events

Horse racing is a thrilling sport that attracts enthusiasts from all over the world. Major horse racing events are held throughout the year, offering spectators a chance to witness some of the finest equine athletes in action. The following are some of the most prestigious horse racing events on the global calendar:

  • Kentucky Derby (USA)
  • Preakness Stakes (USA)
  • Belmont Stakes (USA)
  • Epsom Derby (UK)
  • Royal Ascot (UK)
  • Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (France)
  • Melbourne Cup (Australia)
  • Dubai World Cup (UAE)


The horse racing calendar is jam-packed with events, both major and minor. Races are held at tracks all over the world, from local fairs to world-famous venues. The following table provides a glimpse of the major horse racing events and their approximate start dates:

EventStart Date
Kentucky DerbyFirst Saturday in May
Preakness StakesThird Saturday in May
Belmont StakesLast Saturday in June
Epsom DerbyFirst Saturday in June
Royal AscotThird week in June
Prix de l’Arc de TriompheFirst Sunday in October
Melbourne CupFirst Tuesday in November
Dubai World CupLast Saturday in March

Factors Influencing Horse Racing Start Dates

The start dates for horse racing vary depending on a number of factors, including:

  • Weather: Horse racing is a seasonal sport, and the start dates for each season are typically determined by the weather conditions in the region where the races are held. In areas with cold climates, the racing season may start later in the spring and end earlier in the fall, while in areas with warm climates, the racing season may start earlier in the year and end later in the fall or even year-round.
  • Track conditions: The condition of the track can also affect the start dates for horse racing. If the track is not in good condition, the races may be postponed or canceled. This is especially true for dirt tracks, which can become muddy and unsafe to race on after heavy rain.
  • Scheduling: The start dates for horse racing are also influenced by the scheduling of other events. For example, if there is a major sporting event or holiday weekend, the start dates for horse racing may be adjusted to avoid conflicts.

In addition to these factors, the start dates for horse racing may also be influenced by the following:

  • Tradition: Some horse racing tracks have a long tradition of starting their seasons on a certain date, regardless of the weather or other factors.
  • Economics: The start dates for horse racing may also be influenced by economic factors, such as the availability of funding for purses and the number of horses that are available to race.
MonthStart DatesEnd Dates
JanuaryGulfstream Park, Santa Anita Park
FebruaryOaklawn Park, Fair Grounds Race Course
MarchKeeneland Race Course, Aqueduct Racetrack
AprilChurchill Downs, Belmont Park
MayPreakness Stakes, Kentucky Derby
JuneBelmont Stakes, Royal Ascot
JulyArlington Park, Saratoga Race Course
AugustDel Mar Racetrack, Travers Stakes
SeptemberWoodbine Racetrack, Kentucky Downs
OctoberKeeneland Race Course, Breeders’ Cup
NovemberGulfstream Park, Santa Anita Park
DecemberOaklawn Park, Fair Grounds Race Course

And there you have it, folks! Now you know when the horses are set to thunder across the track. Whether you’re a seasoned racing enthusiast or just curious about the spectacle, mark your calendars and get ready for an adrenaline-pumping experience. Thanks for taking the time to read this article, and be sure to check back later for more updates and insights into the world of horse racing. Until then, keep those hooves drumming and your bets ready!