2020 was a tough year for sports fans, with many events cancelled or played out behind closed doors.
Horse racing was particularly badly affected, but there are some signs that this year will be better. What are the big races that you can hope to attend this year?
The Kentucky Derby – May 2021
The Kentucky Derby is usually the best-attended horse race in the US. Last year, the date was moved from its traditional month of May and it was also run behind closed doors. However, it returns to something close to normality in 2021 for the 147th running, with a May 1 date.
This means that it will once again be the first leg of the American Triple Crown this year. Tickets for it are on sale online, with the latest reports suggesting that up to 60% of the reserved seating at Churchill Downs will be available. This would allow over 30,000 spectators to enjoy this famous race.
The organizers of the Kentucky Derby Festival are also looking to find creative ways to run their usual events. For example, the typical Pegasus Parade will take place on a touring basis in 2021.
This means that the parade will go through over 35 neighborhoods as it covers about 60 miles in and around Louisville.
If you are thinking of staying home and betting on the race from your sofa, click here to check the current odds: twinspires.com/kentuckyderby/odds
Del Mar Track Back in July
The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in California is another of the country’s top racing venues. In 2020, no spectators were allowed to enter, with only the owners of the horses there to witness the races in this seaside location.
This year, the organizers are planning for crowds to return from Friday, July 16. They have brought forward the first, 31-day meeting by a day and hope to be able to finally open their doors to the public during this period.
Part of this optimism is due to the positive announcements made about the re-opening of local attractions such as SeaWorld and the San Diego Padres baseball games. The Del Mar President is Josh Rubenstein, and he pointed out that their 350-acre site provides plenty of space for attendees to socially distance as they watch races.
The Preakness Stakes in May
The second leg in the Triple Crown will also be back in its usual position this year, after being shifted in 2020 and getting run behind closed doors. 2021 sees the 146th Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course, with a May 15 date already set for it.
This $1 million horse race was put back to October last year, making it the third part of the Triple Crown rather than the second. However, only about 250 horse owners and others were allowed to watch it.
This year, there has been no crowd limit officially mentioned yet. The race usually attracts over 100,000 spectators but it seems certain that the normal capacity of 120,000 will be greatly reduced. However, fans of the sport will just be delighted to get the chance to watch some races again after all that happened last year.
The Belmont Stakes
The 2020 version of this famous race saw it become the opening leg of the Triple Crown, but 2021 will see it go back to being the last part of this historic series of races. This year, the event will be run over June 4 and 5.
It is the 153rd Belmont Stakes, but there is no official word yet on how many spectators will be allowed entry. Perhaps if the earlier races all go smoothly with large crowds in attendance, this will allow them to get a sizeable crowd into Belmont Park to see if anyone can win the coveted Triple Crown.
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