The Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing—winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes in a single year—has long been celebrated as one of the most coveted achievements in all of equestrian sports.
Since the first three races were run in 1875, only 11 horses have won the Triple Crown; the last was won by Affirmed in 1978. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been a number of challengers.
Despite the drought since 1997, 10 horses have won the first two legs of the Triple Crown, only to lose at the Belmont. In 2015, American Pharoah is highly favoured to end the Triple Crown drought.
The three tracks that make up the Triple Crown are Churchill Downs (Kentucky Derby), Pimlico Race Course (Preakness Stakes), and Belmont Park (Belmont Stakes). These tracks might attract the nation’s attention for just one day each year, but they are popular destinations for horse lovers throughout the year and pari-mutuel betters.
Home to the Kentucky Derby, the first leg of the Triple Crown, Churchill Downs is located on Central Avenue in Louisville, Kentucky. The track officially opened in 1875 and held the first Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks that same year. Churchill Downs has also hosted the Breeders Cup.
With a capacity of 120,000, Churchill Downs’ live racing calendar begins in April and closes Thanksgiving weekend in late November. The two most popular annual races at Churchill Downs are the Kentucky Derby, held the first Saturday in May, and the Kentucky Oaks, run on the Friday before the Derby.
The Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby are the oldest continuously contested sporting events in American history. They are also the only horse races held at their original site.
The Kentucky Derby is the biggest horse race in the world. Not surprisingly, the one-and-a-quarter mile Kentucky Derby also has the highest handle of any horse race with millions of people from around the world betting on it at various live tracks and on online sports books.
In 2015, betting on the entire card was worth $194.3 million, a four percent increase over the 2014 total of $186.6 million, and a nine percent increase over the $178.2 million in 2013. The 2015 Kentucky Derby also set a record for attendance of 170,513 people, beating the previous high three years ago by three percent.1
In addition to the track, clubhouse, and stables, Churchill Downs is also home to the Kentucky Derby Museum, which focuses on the history of the Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs. The museum is normally open year-round.
While Churchill Downs does not contain a hotel, the Galt House Hotel, in the heart of downtown Louisville, is the official host hotel of Churchill Downs. The only downtown waterfront hotel, the Galt House Hotel includes 1,290 guest rooms, 650 executive suites, six restaurants and lounges, a business center, and rooftop fitness facility.
Pimlico Race Course
Located in Baltimore, Maryland, Pimlico Race Course is a thoroughbred horse racetrack most famous for hosting the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown, and the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes, the second crown of the Filly Triple Crown.2
Pimlico first opened its doors on October 25, 1870, making it the second-oldest racetrack in the United States. Saratoga debuted in 1864 in upstate New York. The stadium has a capacity of 98,983 with live racing taking place in May and June, and simulcast racing running from May to December.
The Preakness Stakes is the second jewel in the Triple Crown and is held on the third Saturday in May, two weeks after the Kentucky Derby and three weeks before the Belmont Stakes. The race covers a distance of 9.5 furlongs (1 and 3/16 miles) and is the second-most popular horse race in North America.
The 2015 Preakness Stakes set both a handle and attendance record; 131,680 fans attended the Preakness Stakes, a 6.6% increase over the 2014 mark of 123,469. The total handle for Preakness Day was a record $85.1 million.3
Located in Elmont, New York, just outside of New York City, Belmont Park is one of the United States’ most storied horse racing facilities. The 445-acre facility first opened its doors in 1905 and is open for racing throughout May and June and into July. Racing resumes from late September through late October. With an attendance capacity of more than 100,000, the Belmont Park grandstand is the largest in thoroughbred racing.4
Belmont Stakes is the oldest of the Triple Crown races, with Ruthless winning the first race held in 1868. It is also the most gruelling challenge at 1.5 miles, or 12 furlongs. Over the three days, there are 17 stakes races with $10.0 million in purses on the line. The winner of the Belmont Stakes takes home $1.5 million.5
In 2014, Belmont Stakes Day reported an on-track handle of $19.1 million and all-sources handle of $150.2 million, easily setting all-time New York Racing Association records. The previous Belmont Stakes Day handle records were set in 2004, with $14,461,402 wagered on-track and $110,994,390 wagered from all-sources.
The 2014 attendance was 102,199, the third-highest in Belmont Stakes history. The current record is 120,139, set in 2004. With another Triple Crown possible in 2015, many expect this year’s handle and attendance to top last year’s.
Aside from the Belmont Stakes, Belmont Park is home to a large number of notable races, including the Acorn Stakes, Jockey Club Gold Cup, Manhattan Handicap, Champagne Stakes, Mother Goose Stakes, Coaching Club American Oaks, Man O’ War Stakes, Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational, and Frizette Stakes.
Now, if you’re a Canadian or other non-U.S. resident who’s bet on the big races and won, you may have noticed the IRS held back 30% of your pari-mutuel winnings. Luckily, there’s a way you can reclaim a portion of all of your taxable winnings.
RMS is the Easiest, Fastest Way to Get Your Pari-Mutuel Money Back
In the United States, winnings over $1,200 from pari-mutuel (or other forms of gambling, including poker, slots, and sports betting) are considered taxable income by the IRS and subject to a 30% withholding tax. For example, if you win $5,000 at the Kentucky Derby, you’ll walk out with just $3,500. The IRS gets to keep the rest.
That’s where Refund Management Services (RMS) comes in. Founded by a Canadian Chartered Accountant in 1998, RMS is the most reliable and experienced gaming and casino tax refund provider for Canadian and non-U.S. residents. Only RMS has the One Simple StepTM process. Our Customer Service Agents take care of the rest. Your refund cheque gets mailed out to you as soon as it is approved. We’ve never been refused an eligible refund. Contact us today (or keep our number on file in case you win big on the next Triple Crown race)!
1. Jones, J., “How Much is Bet on the Kentucky Derby,” Bet Firm web site, April 20, 2015; http://www.betfirm.com/how-much-is-bet-on-the-kentucky-derby/.
2. “History,” Pimlico web site; http://www.pimlico.com/about/history, last accessed May 26, 2015.
3. Lintner, J., “Record attendance, handle on Preakness Day,” The Courier-Journal web site, May 16, 2015; http://www.courier-journal.com/story/sports/horses/triple/preakness/2015/05/16/preakness-2015–record-attendance-handle–pimlico–saturday/27465555/.
4. “History of Belmont,” New York Racing Association web site; https://www.nyra.com/belmont/information/history-belmont/, last accessed May 27, 2015.
5. “Schedule,” Belmont Stakes Racing Festival web site; http://www.belmontstakes.com/schedule.aspx, last accessed May 27, 2015.