Racing Dudes Beginners Series: Understanding Race Types

-Stakes/Derby/Handicap Races:

 These types of races are for the best of the best.  The purses are usually very high for Stakes, Derby, or Handicap races, sometimes up to 5 million dollars at the highest level.  There are usually conditions attached to these types of races so not just any horse can enter.  The conditions are usually age, gender, and/or earnings acquired.   For example, to run in the Kentucky Derby you must be three years old, and you must be in the top 20 in earnings amongst the horses that are trying to enter the race.  Stakes, Derby, and Handicap races are broke down into three grades.  Grade 1 races account for the elite horses and carry the biggest purses.  Grades 2 and 3 races are still extremely good, but do carry smaller purses than Grade 1′s.  Winning a Grade 1 race is every horsemen’s dream.  There are also ungraded stakes races, which usually serve as prep races for the graded races.  In most cases, all horses carry the same or similar weights in Stakes and Derby races.  In Handicap races horses carry different weights.  The weight assignments are given to each horse by track officials.  The best horse determined by the racing officials is given the most to carry weight, and so forth.  This is meant to try to give every horse a chance, hence the term “Handicap” race.  It’s much like using a handicap in golf. Continue reading