Historical Horse Racing Tracks: Exploring The Most Iconic Arenas In The World

The stand, completed in 2006 and designed by architects Populous and engineers Buro Happold and built by Laing O'Rourke

Jonas Gritėnas

Release Date

Wednesday, January 17, 2024


Horse racing, a sport of kings, and sometimes a king's ransom, is as thrilling as it is historical.

It is a sport that dates back hundreds of years, and one thing is for sure. It definitely left a mark in our history through some incredible moments on some legendary horse racing tracks.

Throughout the world, there are many different horse racing tracks that share a lot of history. If the land of these tracks could speak, it would tell some amazing stories about victories, underdogs, and winning bets.

That’s why we decided to highlight some of the oldest horse racing tracks in the world that contribute to the sport’s rich history and tradition. Maybe one day, you’ll get a chance to visit them and experience some top-level horse racing.

Buckle up, or should I say, saddle up, and let’s explore some amazing horse racing tracks.

1. Churchill Downs, Kentucky, USA

Opening our list is Churchill Downs, the epitome of American horse racing glamour. Home to the Kentucky Derby, it's not just about fast horses; it's about fashion, food, festivals, betting, and much more!

Did you know the iconic twin spires were not originally part of the design? Talk about an architectural photobomb that worked out well! The Kentucky Derby has always been a test of champions, and the first leg of the Triple Crown, that most racehorse owners dream of.

This year is going to be the 150th anniversary of the Kentucky Derby, so Churchill Downs will be packed with spectators. Who knows, maybe we could beat the 170,000-record set in 2015.

So, prepare for some betting extravaganza, the Kentucky Derby is just around the corner. Nonetheless, before you do, make sure to learn more about how horse racing odds work on the link below: twinspires.com/betting-guides/what-do-horse-racing-odds-mean/

The Kentucky Derby is one of the biggest brands in horse racing’s history, and Churchill Downs is definitely one of the best tracks in the world.

  • Established: 1875
  • Notable Races: Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks
  • Historic Moment: 1973, Secretariat's record-shattering Kentucky Derby win, etching an unbeatable record in the sands of time.

2. Ascot Racecourse, UK

Over in the UK, Ascot is where the Queen mingles with commoners. Well, sort of. If by mingling you mean watching horses’ race while everyone tries to outdo each other's hats.

Royal Ascot is the pinnacle of British horse racing and social peacocking. Also, it's older than your great-great-great-grandma, dating back to 1711! This is quite an important racecourse, since it inspired a lot of people to go into horse racing, and can be considered as a foundation of the sport.

  • Established: 1711
  • Notable Races: Royal Ascot, Gold Cup
  • Historic Moment: In 2006, Yeats began his four-year dominance in the Gold Cup, a feat yet unmatched.

3. Saratoga Race Course, USA

Ever heard of a spa for horses? Welcome to Saratoga, New York, USA. Known as "The Spa," this track is a summer hotspot for horse racing enthusiasts.

Did you know it's also known as the "Graveyard of Champions"? Even the legendary Secretariat couldn't win here!

Why it is called the “Graveyard of Champions”? Well, for a good reason. It seems like every champion horse has lost on this racecourse.

We are talking about, Man o’ War, a horse that won 20 out of 21 races (lost at Saratoga), the Secretariat lost to a no-name horse called Onion, event the recent Triple Crown winner American Pharoah lost at Saratoga.

  • Established: 1863
  • Notable Races: Travers Stakes, Whitney Handicap
  • Historic Moment: 1973, Onion's unexpected win over Secretariat in the Whitney Handicap, exemplifying why Saratoga is known as the "Graveyard of Champions."

4. Meydan Racecourse, Dubai: Where Luxury Meets Speed

Before you judge us by including a racetrack that doesn’t share as much history as others, bear with us. The growth of horse racing as a sport contributes to tracks just like the Meydan Racecourse in Dubai.

In Dubai, everything's got to be the biggest and the best, right? Meydan Racecourse is no exception. It's a race track and a luxury hotel making it the perfect travel destination. It is an incredible modern racecourse that pushes the sport to the next phase.

With the world's richest race, the Dubai World Cup, it's a place where billionaires' hobbies gallop at full speed.

  • Established: 2010
  • Notable Race: Dubai World Cup
  • Historic Moment: 2010, the opening of Meydan, marked by the hosting the world's richest race, the Dubai World Cup.

5. Tokyo Racecourse, Japan: Where Tradition Meets Technology

Heading over to Japan, Tokyo Racecourse is a blend of tradition and high-tech. They've got a video screen bigger than your apartment, and Mount Fuji is practically part of the scenery. It's like watching a race in the future but with more sushi.

  • Features: Home to the Japan Cup, the racecourse includes a grass course, a dirt course, and a steeplechase course.
  • Renovation: 2007, notable for adding the world's largest video screen at the time.
  • Unique Aspect: Offers a stunning view of Mount Fuji, merging natural beauty with the thrill of racing.

6. Longchamp Racecourse, France: Where Parisian Chic Meets Horsepower

Welcome to Paris! The city of flashy lights and a long history with horse racing. Longchamp is where French elegance meets equine excitement. It's like a fashion show, but with horses.

And it's not just about winning; it's about winning with style. Who needs the Eiffel Tower when you've got the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe?

  • Established: 1857
  • Notable Race: Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe
  • Historic Moment: The racecourse witnessed the inaugural running of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in 1920, now Europe's most prestigious race.

7. Aintree Racecourse, UK: Home of the Grand National

Back in the UK, Aintree is where the Grand National happens. It is an event for the Brits as big as a Holiday and there are seats reserved for the Royal family, the Elite, and many celebrities.  

It's like the Olympics of horse racing. Fun fact: Red Rum, a horse, is more famous here than most celebrities. He won the Grand National three times in the 1970s!

  • Established: 1829
  • Notable Race: Grand National
  • Historic Moment: 1973, 1974, and 1977, Red Rum's three Grand National victories, a feat unrivaled in steeplechase history.


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