The year is coming to a close, with the vast majority of the big races already behind us. However, a few big events still remain. Churchill Downs, Aqueduct, Del Mar, Santa Anita, and Remington Park still have important days remaining. The Kentucky Derby trail will start to heat up in the coming weeks, while the older horses will take one more shot at earning Grade 1 victories. Here are five MUST SEE races still left in 2019:

1. Cigar Mile (Grade 1)

When: December 7, 2019

Where: Aqueduct

Why Watch: It all comes down to this race for Maximum Security, who can lock up 3-Year-Old of the Year honors with a victory. However, this will not be an easy test for him, with several quality horses pointing toward the race. Among them are Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner Spun to Run, as well as older horses such as Prince Lucky, Bal Harbour, and True Timber. Every year, this attracts a solid field, so it’s no surprise that this is the number one event on this list. 

2. Los Alamitos Futurity (Grade 2)

When: December 7, 2019

Where: Los Alamitos

Why Watch: Even though this is now a Grade 2 event, it still will serve as an important race for horses prepping for the Kentucky Derby in Southern California. In recent years, Bob Baffert has dominated this event, but this season his 2-year-old’s have been underwhelming. That could leave the door open for the John Sherriffs trained Honor A.P., who dazzled at Santa Anita Park last time out. That victory has many pundits buzzing about what the future could hold for him. 

3. Remsen Stakes (Grade 2) 

When: December 7, 2019

Where: Aqueduct 

Why Watch: There is no doubt this race has struggled with producing Kentucky Derby horses; however, it could be different this season. Our #1 ranked Kentucky Derby horse, Independence Hall, is pointing for the race. His presence gives this much criticized race hope after his dominating performance last time out in the Nashua Stakes (G3). The son of Constitution is a perfect two for two to start his career, while still not being asked for his best. With another win in this spot his hype will go through the roof heading into 2020. 

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4. Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (Grade 2)

When: November 30, 2019

Where: Churchill Downs 

Why Watch: The Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes gives 2-year-old’s a chance to prep over the Churchill Downs oval, which is a big benefit in the minds of local trainers. However, a shipper will have the most hype heading into the race. That horse is Tiz the Law, who dazzled last time out to an impressive win in the Champagne Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park. His connections decided to skip the Breeders’ Cup after that win, with this being the target right after he crossed the wire in the Champagne. He’ll likely battle Florida bred sensation Chance It in this spot, who also skipped out on the Breeders’ Cup. 

5. Malibu Stakes (Grade 1)

When: December 26, 2019

Where: Santa Anita

Why Watch: In the final Grade 1 race of the year we’ll see if Omaha Beach can get redemption after finishing second in the Big Ass Fans Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1). That loss knocked him out of 3-Year-Old of the Year contention; however, this would be an important victory if he wants to build momentum heading into the 2020 Pegasus World Cup (G1).  It has been a year of “what ifs” for this horse, so a win here would be a big one for him to pick up. The last time he raced at one-turn, he defeated Shancelot in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1)

Honorable Mentions: Hollywood Turf Cup (Del Mar), Hollywood Derby (Del Mar), Golden Rod Stakes (Churchill Downs), Matriarch Stakes (Del Mar), Clark Handicap (Churchill Downs), Starlet Stakes (Los Alamitos), Springboard Mile (Remington Park), La Brea Stakes (Santa Anita)