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Top 5 MUST SEE Races of the Summer

Chelsea Durand/NYRA

The Triple Crown season was made to appeal to the masses, but the summer racing schedule is made for the horse racing fan specifically. The birthplace of American Racing, Saratoga, is set to begin soon as well as Del Mar where the surf meets the turf. Here’s a look at some of the major races that will take place there, as well as a couple other major races that will be happening this summer!

1. Travers Stakes

Where: Saratoga Race Course

When: Saturday, August 26th

Why it’s a MUST SEE: Besides the fact it’s called the “Mid-Summer Derby,” it will have more meaning than ever this year. The 3-year-old division is completely wide open, and the Travers could be the race that decides who wins the Eclipse Award at year’s end. Last year, Arrogate came to Saratoga and romped while on his way to a Breeders’ Cup Classic victory to end the year, and two years ago, a Triple Crown winner ran in the Travers when American Pharoah was defeated by Keen Ice.  If we’re lucky this year, we’ll see a matchup of all three Triple Crown race winners entered in the race.

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2. Pacific Classic

Where: Del Mar Turf Club

When: Saturday, August 19th

Why it’s a MUST SEE: The great Arrogate makes his return to the races on July 22nd at Del Mar, but that race will just be a prep for this major showdown. The Pacific Classic has turned into THE marquee event on the west coast each and every year. Last year, California Chrome was victorious in runaway fashion, and two years ago, another champion, Beholder, won this race. Arrogate will likely face very little competition, but at this point, it doesn’t matter. It’s just a thrill to watch this world-class animal run.

3. Whitney Stakes

Where: Saratoga Race Course

When: Saturday, August 5th

Why it’s a MUST SEE: Look for nearly every solid older male horse not named Arrogate to run in this spot. With Arrogate pointed for a west coast summer campaign, it leaves this race wide open for everyone else. The talented Gun Runner has already shipped to Saratoga and will be a tough matchup for anyone that runs against him, but you can bet that Bob Baffert will target this race with Mor Spirit. Mor Spirit recently dominated in the Met Mile on Belmont Stakes Day. Shaman Ghost, who this year has been defeated by only Arrogate, is also going to be tough to handle in this spot.

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4. Arlington Million

Where: Arlington Park

When: Saturday, August 12th

Why it’s a MUST SEE: It’s always a bit of an unknown as to who will enter this race, but there is no doubt that this has become one of the most enjoyable days of the year for race fans. Arlington Park has done a fantastic job making Arlington Million Day a truly international day of racing. Horses from across the globe ship in to run, and each year, the competition seems to get better and better. This year, several strong turf horses will be lined up to take a shot in this prestigious race.

5. Haskell Stakes

Where: Monmouth Park

When: Sunday, July 30th

Why it’s a MUST SEE: Nearly every top 3-year-old in the country is pointing for either the Jim Dandy or Haskell Stakes to launch the second half of their season. While the Jim Dandy is always strong, the Haskell seems to attract the better field. This year, it’s very much unclear which horses will run where, but you can bet that the Jersey Shore will see its fair share of quality thoroughbreds for this race. Two years ago, American Pharoah shipped in to win the Haskell, and last year, Preakness winner Exaggerator was victorious. The winner this year will get an early jump on the 3-year-old Eclipse Award.

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