Three of the most anticipated US stakes races of 2020

Horse race
Written by Nigel Simpkins

Horse racing remains one of the most popular sports in North America and regular meets take place on a daily basis. Whilst there tends to be little clamour for a Tuesday night card at Will Rogers Downs, punters are often left enthralled by some of the more valuable contests which are dotted throughout the season. With several tracks gearing up to host high-profile occasions this year, we take a look at some of the most anticipated events on the sporting calendar.

The Travers

Travers Day is hugely popular with US racing fans and has been a regular fixture since 1864. It’s the biggest day of Saratoga’s summer meet and tends to attract a worldwide audience. This Grade I event is competed over 10 furlongs and is nicknamed the ‘Mid-Summer Derby’. This classy contest tends to attract some of the region’s finest three-year olds, and with a purse of around $1.6 million, top owners and trainers are understandably keen to achieve success in this race. Code of Honor is the latest thoroughbred to add his name to the impressive list of winners, triumphing for Claude McGaughey and John R. Velazquez. Other notable success stories include Arrogate setting a new stakes record in 2016 and American Pharoah’s shock defeat twelve months earlier.

Another summer highlight on the Saratoga card is the Whitney Stakes. It is open to 3+-year-old thoroughbreds and was inaugurated in 1928. The race itself is named after William Collins Whitney, one of the founders of the Jockey Club and a passionate supporter of the sport. A number of changes have occurred throughout the years with the race returning to a weight-for-age contest at the beginning of 2014.

McKinzie stormed to victory in 2019, picking up the lucrative $980,000 purse under hall-of-fame jockey Mike E Smith and another stellar line-up is guaranteed for this year’s renewal.

Some of the sport’s greatest competitors have featured in this nine-furlong contest, with the likes of Gun Runner, Tizway, War Admiral and Easy Goer all triumphing at the New York track. 2007 winner Lawyer Ron currently boasts the fastest time in the race, whilst Carl Hanford’s Kelso is the only thoroughbred to have been successful on three separate occasions.

Pacific Classic Stakes

The Pacific Classic Stakes is just one of the many standout contests taking place in California throughout the course of the summer. With Santa Anita, Golden Gate Fields and Del Mar all hosting top-class events on a regular basis, fans of the sport can use the Paddy Power website and app to keep their eye on the horse racing results across the world. The latter’s summer season gets underway in mid-July and includes this 10-furlong showpiece event.

Although this race may lack history, it does offer a $1 million purse and is undoubtedly the highlight of the San Diego track’s summer schedule. Since 2008, the winner of this race has been automatically entered into the Breeders’ Cup Classic, offering a further incentive to owners and trainers in the region.

Five-year-olds have an impressive record in this race with Accelerate, California Chrome and Acclamation all triumphing in this contest over the last decade. John Sadler’s Higher Power was victorious in 2019, making it back-to-back victories for the Long Beach-trainer.

US racing fans are spoilt for choice once again this summer with a plethora of terrific contests set to take place throughout July and August. The Travers, the Whitney and the Pacific Classic are just three of the events which are set to entertain thousands of spectators once again in 2020.