The Greatest US and Florida Horse Racing Tracks

The Rich History of Horse Racing in the US and Florida

Horse racing has been a beloved sport in the United States for centuries, with its roots dating back to colonial times. The excitement of thoroughbred racing has captured the hearts of millions of Americans, and Florida is no exception. With its warm climate and a long history of racing, Florida has become a popular destination for horse racing enthusiasts.

In Florida, the sport’s popularity began to rise in the early 20th century, and the state has since played host to many prestigious races and events. From the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park to the Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs, Florida has become an integral part of the American horse racing landscape. The state is home to numerous renowned racing tracks that have garnered a loyal following among both local residents and visitors.

The Current State of Betting on Horse Racing in Florida

Betting on horse racing is a time-honored tradition in the United States, and Florida is no different. Floridians have embraced the thrill of placing wagers on their favorite horses, contributing to the growth of the sport and the betting industry within the state. Florida’s horse racing scene offers a unique blend of on-site wagering, off-track betting, and online betting platforms, providing a variety of options for bettors.

Despite the popularity of betting on horse racing, the industry has faced challenges in recent years. Changing gambling legislation and increased competition from other forms of gambling have impacted the sport, leading to a decline in attendance at tracks and wagering. However, the future of betting on horse racing in Florida remains promising, as the industry adapts to the changing landscape and introduces new innovations to attract bettors.

Top US Horse Racing Tracks

Churchill Downs, Kentucky

Churchill Downs, located in Louisville, Kentucky, is one of the most iconic horse racing tracks in the United States. The track opened its gates in 1875 and is best known for hosting the annual Kentucky Derby, one of the most prestigious races in the world. Churchill Downs is steeped in history and tradition, with its iconic Twin Spires serving as a recognizable symbol of the track and the sport itself.

The two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival, which culminates with the Run for the Roses, offers an array of events, including the Thunder Over Louisville airshow, the Pegasus Parade, and various concerts. The Kentucky Derby is a must-see event for any horse racing enthusiast and a true bucket-list experience.

Saratoga Race Course, New York

Saratoga Race Course, nestled in the picturesque town of Saratoga Springs, New York, is another top horse racing destination for Florida residents to consider. Founded in 1863, Saratoga is the oldest organized sporting venue in the United States and is considered the “Graveyard of Champions” due to its history of producing unexpected upsets in major races. The track’s rich history, charming atmosphere, and world-class racing make it a favorite among horse racing aficionados.

During the summer racing season, Saratoga hosts numerous prestigious races, including the Travers Stakes and the Whitney Stakes. The track’s proximity to the charming downtown area of Saratoga Springs, with its Victorian architecture, fine dining, and boutique shopping, provides visitors with a unique and unforgettable experience. 

Belmont Park, New York

Belmont Park, located in Elmont, New York, is another must-visit horse racing track. Established in 1905, the park is known as “The Championship Track” due to its reputation for hosting prestigious races, including the Belmont Stakes, the third and final leg of the Triple Crown. Belmont Park’s massive 1.5-mile main track, the largest dirt track in North America, sets it apart from other racing venues.

Besides the Belmont Stakes, the track also hosts other notable races, such as the Jockey Club Gold Cup and the Metropolitan Handicap. Belmont Park’s beautiful grounds, top-tier racing, and storied history make it a must-visit destination for horse racing enthusiasts. The park is also conveniently located near New York City, providing visitors with the opportunity to combine their love for horse racing with the excitement of the Big Apple.

Santa Anita Park, California

Santa Anita Park, situated in Arcadia, California, is a premier West Coast racing. The park opened in 1934 and is renowned for its picturesque setting at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains. Santa Anita Park has played host to numerous prestigious events, including multiple editions of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

The park’s racing calendar features a variety of top-tier races, such as the Santa Anita Derby and the Santa Anita Handicap. With its beautiful architecture, stunning mountain backdrop, and high-quality racing, Santa Anita Park offers an unforgettable experience for horse racing enthusiasts. For Florida residents looking to explore the West Coast’s horse racing scene, a visit to Santa Anita Park is an excellent choice.

Keeneland, Kentucky

Located in the heart of Kentucky’s Bluegrass region. Keeneland was founded in 1936 and has since become a symbol of Thoroughbred racing’s rich history and traditions. The track is also home to the world’s leading Thoroughbred auction house, with its sales regularly featuring some of the sport’s future stars.

Keeneland’s race meetings, held in April and October, feature a mix of top-class racing and a unique, intimate atmosphere. The track’s beautiful grounds, with its iconic stone walls and lush landscaping, provide a picturesque setting for enjoying a day at the races. Keeneland’s commitment to preserving the sport’s heritage, combined with its dedication to innovation, make it a must-visit destination.

Pimlico Race Course, Maryland

Pimlico Race Course, located in Baltimore, Maryland, is another historic racing venue that should be on the radar of Florida horse racing fans. Established in 1870, Pimlico is the second-oldest racetrack in the United States and is best known for hosting the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown. Pimlico’s rich history and the excitement of the Preakness make it a must-visit destination for horse racing enthusiasts.

In addition to the Preakness Stakes, Pimlico hosts other notable races, such as the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes and the Dixie Stakes. The track’s lively atmosphere during the Preakness weekend, combined with its storied history, provides an unforgettable experience for visitors. 

Del Mar Racetrack, California

Del Mar Racetrack, situated in the beautiful seaside city of Del Mar, California, is a West Coast racing gem. Founded in 1937 by a group of Hollywood celebrities, including Bing Crosby, the track has become a symbol of the glamor and excitement of horse racing. Del Mar’s motto, “Where the Turf Meets the Surf,” perfectly captures the venue’s unique atmosphere and stunning location.

Del Mar’s summer and fall racing seasons offer a mix of high-quality racing and special events, such as concerts and family activities. The track’s picturesque setting, with its stunning ocean views, makes it an ideal destination for a horse racing getaway..

Florida’s Premier Horse Racing Venues

Gulfstream Park, Hallandale Beach

Gulfstream Park, located in Hallandale Beach, Florida, is a premier racing venue that Floridians can be proud of. Since its inception in 1939, Gulfstream Park has become a symbol of world-class racing and entertainment in South Florida. The park is known for hosting the prestigious Florida Derby, a key prep race for the Kentucky Derby, as well as the Pegasus World Cup, one of the richest races in the world.

The racing calendar at Gulfstream Park runs from December through September, offering a mix of high-quality racing and special events throughout the year. The park’s state-of-the-art facilities, including a casino, shopping, dining, and entertainment options, make it an ideal destination for a day at the races. For Florida residents and visitors alike, Gulfstream Park is a must-visit horse racing venue.

Tampa Bay Downs, Tampa

Tampa Bay Downs, located in Tampa, Florida, is another outstanding racing venue that Floridians can enjoy. The track, which opened in 1926, offers a mix of thoroughbred racing and world-class amenities, making it a popular destination for horse racing enthusiasts in the state. Tampa Bay Downs is known for hosting the prestigious Tampa Bay Derby, a key prep race on the road to the Kentucky Derby.

The racing season at Tampa Bay Downs typically runs from November through May, providing ample opportunities for Florida residents to enjoy top-class racing. In addition to live racing, the venue also offers simulcast wagering, poker, and golf, ensuring a full day of entertainment for visitors. With its excellent racing and facilities, Tampa Bay Downs is a must-visit destination for Florida horse racing fans.

Hialeah Park, Hialeah

Hialeah Park, situated in Hialeah, Florida, is a historic racing venue with a rich history dating back to 1925. Once known as “the world’s most beautiful race course,” Hialeah Park has been graced by some of the greatest horses in history, including Triple Crown winners Citation, Seattle Slew, and Affirmed. Although the track no longer hosts thoroughbred racing, it remains an important part of Florida’s horse racing heritage.

Today, Hialeah Park offers quarter horse racing, as well as a casino, entertainment, and dining options for visitors. The park’s beautiful grounds, featuring its iconic flamingo population, provide a unique atmosphere for enjoying a day at the races. For Florida residents interested in exploring the state’s horse racing history, a visit to Hialeah Park is highly recommended.

Calder Casino and Race Course, Miami Gardens

Calder Casino and Race Course, located in Miami Gardens, Florida, is another notable racing venue in the state. Founded in 1971, the track has a long history of hosting exciting racing events, including the Summit of Speed and the Festival of the Sun. While live racing at Calder has been scaled back in recent years, the venue continues to offer simulcast wagering on races from tracks around the country.

In addition to simulcast wagering, Calder Casino and Race Course features a casino, dining, and entertainment options for visitors. The venue’s convenient location near Miami makes it an accessible destination for Florida residents and visitors looking to enjoy a day of racing action. For those in the Miami area, a visit to Calder Casino and Race Course is a great way to experience horse racing excitement.

Palm Beach Kennel Club, West Palm Beach

Palm Beach Kennel Club, located in West Palm Beach, Florida, is a popular destination for pari-mutuel wagering in the state. While the venue primarily focuses on greyhound racing, it also offers simulcast wagering on thoroughbred, harness, and quarter horse racing from tracks across the United States. The facility’s diverse racing options make it an appealing destination for Florida horse racing fans.

Aside from racing, Palm Beach Kennel Club features a poker room, dining, and entertainment options for visitors. The venue’s year-round racing calendar and convenient location make it an accessible destination for Florida residents looking to enjoy a day of wagering and entertainment. For those in the West Palm Beach area, a visit to Palm Beach Kennel Club is an enjoyable way to experience horse racing action.

Betting on Horse Racing: The Florida Perspective

The Legal Landscape of Horse Racing Betting in Florida

Betting on horse racing is an integral part of the sport’s appeal and contributes to the industry’s growth in Florida. The state has a long history of pari-mutuel wagering, which is legal and regulated by the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering. Pari-mutuel betting allows patrons to place bets on horse races, with the total wagers placed in a pool, and the winnings distributed among the bettors who correctly predict the race’s outcome.

In recent years, the legal landscape of gambling in Florida has evolved, with the introduction of new laws and regulations that have impacted the horse racing industry. The growth of online betting platforms, such as Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW), has provided Florida residents with more options for placing wagers on horse racing events. However, the state’s gambling laws continue to be a topic of debate and may undergo further changes in the future.

The Popularity of Online Betting Platforms

The advent of online betting platforms has significantly changed the landscape of horse racing betting in Florida. ADW platforms allow Florida residents to place bets on races from around the country and even international races, all from the comfort of their own homes. These platforms offer a convenient and user-friendly betting experience, with options to place bets via websites or mobile apps.

ADW platforms have become increasingly popular among Florida horse racing fans, providing them with more opportunities to engage with the sport and potentially win big. The popularity of online betting platforms has also encouraged the growth of the sport in Florida, as more residents become interested in horse racing and wagering. As the industry adapts to the changing landscape, online betting platforms are expected to play a significant role in the future of horse racing betting in Florida.

Traditional On-site Wagering Options

While FL online betting platforms are highly anticipated, traditional on-site wagering options remain an important part of the Florida horse racing experience. Florida’s racing venues offer a variety of betting options for patrons, from simple win, place, and show bets to more complex exotic wagers, such as exactas, trifectas, and superfectas. On-site betting provides racing fans with the opportunity to immerse themselves in the excitement of the track and experience the thrill of wagering firsthand.

Many Florida racing venues also offer off-track betting (OTB) facilities, allowing patrons to place bets on races taking place at other tracks around the country. OTB facilities provide racing fans with additional betting opportunities and help to support the local horse racing industry. As the sport continues to evolve, it is expected that Florida racing venues will continue to offer a mix of on-site and off-track wagering options to cater to the diverse preferences of racing fans.

The Economic Impact of Horse Racing and Betting in Florida

Horse racing and betting have a significant economic impact in Florida, contributing to the state’s economy and supporting local businesses and communities. The industry generates millions of dollars in revenue through wagering, tourism, and related activities, providing jobs and supporting ancillary businesses, such as breeding farms, training facilities, and veterinary services.

Despite facing challenges from other forms of gambling and changing legislation, the Florida horse racing industry remains resilient and adaptable. As the industry continues to innovate and evolve, it is expected that horse racing and betting will continue to contribute to Florida’s economy and maintain its status as a popular pastime for residents and visitors alike.

The Future of Horse Racing and Betting in Florida

Proposed Changes in Florida’s Horse Racing Industry

The future of Florida’s horse racing industry is marked by potential changes and growth, as the sport adapted to shifting trends and emerging challenges. Some proposed changes include the introduction of new legislation and regulations that could impact betting, as well as the development of innovative racing formats and technologies to attract new fans and bettors. The industry’s ability to adapt and evolve will be crucial in determining the future success of horse racing and betting in Florida.

One area of potential change is the expansion of online betting platforms, which could further increase the popularity of horse racing betting in the state. As more Florida residents embrace digital wagering options, the industry will need to keep pace with technological advancements and user preferences. This may include the development of new mobile apps, betting tools, and wagering options to cater to the evolving demands of horse racing fans.

The Role of Technology in Horse Racing and Betting

Technology continues to play a significant role in shaping the future of horse racing and betting in Florida. Advances in digital platforms, data analytics, and streaming technologies have transformed the way fans engage with the sport, providing new opportunities for the industry to grow and thrive. The integration of technology into the horse racing experience has the potential to attract new fans, improve the betting experience, and enhance the overall enjoyment of the sport.

For example, the use of data analytics and machine learning can help bettors make more informed wagering decisions, leading to a more engaging and potentially profitable betting experience. Additionally, the widespread availability of high-quality live streaming services allows fans to follow races and place bets from anywhere, further increasing the accessibility and appeal of the sport. As technology continues to advance, it is likely that the horse racing industry in Florida will continue to innovate and adapt to better serve the needs and preferences of its fans.

Attracting New Fans and Preserving the Sport’s Heritage

The future success of horse racing and betting in Florida depends on the industry’s ability to attract new fans while preserving the sport’s rich heritage and traditions. This requires a delicate balance between innovation and tradition, as the industry seeks to engage younger audiences and compete with other forms of entertainment and gambling.

Efforts to attract new fans may include the development of new racing formats, marketing campaigns aimed at younger demographics, and partnerships with celebrities or influencers to promote the sport. Additionally, the industry must continue to prioritize the welfare of its equine athletes and uphold the highest standards of safety and integrity to maintain public trust and support.

By embracing change and innovation while respecting the sport’s history, the Florida horse racing industry can continue to thrive and remain an important part of the state’s culture and economy. With its world-class venues, passionate fanbase, and rich traditions, the future of horse racing and betting in Florida looks bright.


In conclusion, Florida boasts a vibrant horse racing scene with world-class venues and a rich history that residents can take pride in. As the industry faces challenges from changing legislation, emerging technologies, and shifting consumer preferences, it must continue to adapt and innovate to remain successful. By embracing technology and attracting new fans while preserving the sport’s heritage, Florida’s horse racing and betting industry can continue to thrive, providing excitement, entertainment, and economic benefits to the state for years to come.