Four Reasons for Horse Racing Fans to Get Excited About Fall

Events / Travel
The Breeders’ Cup returns to picturesque Santa Anita Park this fall for the first time since 2016. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Monday, Sept. 23 marks the first official day of fall, and aside from Kentucky Derby season, there’s no more exciting time for horse racing fans on the calendar. Team ABR shares four things to anticipate in the final months of 2019, starting with the 36th edition of Thoroughbred Racing’s championship series.

The 2016 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Superstars Converge at Santa Anita

Fall for me means the best of the best: the Breeders’ Cup. Top Thoroughbreds from all over the globe will meet at Santa Anita Park on Nov. 1 and 2 to compete in horse racing’s World Championships.

From Future Stars Friday with top 2-year-olds to the Longines Distaff and the Breeders’ Cup Classic – and everything in between – we can all look forward to seeing the best racehorses, jockeys, trainers, and owners in the game compete at the very top level in our sport. –Penelope Miller

A scene from Maryland Million Day. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Maryland Takes the Spotlight

When most of us think of fall racing we automatically think of the Breeders’ Cup. Sure, that’s the big finale of the racing season. But the appetizer that always gets me excited just before Breeders’ Cup is the fall classic at Laurel Park known as the Maryland Million. It’s an all-day celebration of Maryland-sired horses and a great day to be at Laurel with great food and drink specials, fun for the family and awesome betting opportunities. –Daniel Tordjman

Two-year-olds race during the November meet at Churchill. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Two-Year-Old Racing Picks Up

As a hoodie fanatic (seriously, I currently own 24 hoodies) and photographer, fall is my favorite season because not only do I get to pull out the hoodies (and it isn't so cold that I have to put a jacket on top of them) and have beautiful backgrounds for my photos, but this is also when we really start to see the next generation of stars start coming into their own.

Two-year-old racing starts in the spring, and some impressive runners emerge then, but it isn't until fall that I usually feel they are showing us their true promise of things to come. From the Breeders' Cup prep races to the juveniles’ day on the big stage at Breeders’ Cup Future Stars Friday on Nov. 1, fall brings hope that maybe, just maybe, we're seeing the sport's next big superstar – and that's why I love it so much. –Melissa Bauer-Herzog

Fall/winter racing at Turfway (Eclipse Sportswire)

Turfway Park’s Final Meet?

Keeneland and Churchill Downs unquestionably offer the fall’s best racing in Kentucky, starting with an under-the-lights card on Sept. 28 at Churchill, moving to 3 ½ weeks of October bliss at Keeneland in the heart of horse country, and then back to Churchill for a November meet that, as Melissa notes above, usually sees several highly-touted 2-year-olds begin their racing careers in pursuit of the following spring’s Kentucky Derby or Oaks.

But a rising conflict between gaming companies over 2020 racing dates in Northern Kentucky has placed the future of Turfway Park in Florence in doubt. Churchill Downs has requested Turfway’s 2020 dates (and those in future years) from Kentucky’s racing commission, with a plan to hold winter racing at Churchill from next January to March while they build a new track in Northern Kentucky that includes a racino. Turfway’s brass has vowed to fight for those dates, but if they lose, its upcoming short December 2019 meet could be its final one.

December racing at Turfway is worth attending anyway, with racecards scheduled mainly at night and featuring food and drink specials, live music, and giveaways. But the unsettled racing picture in the Bluegrass State means that a pre-Christmas trip to Turfway – potentially a farewell trip – is mandatory this fall. –Patrick Reed

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