The Biggest Horse Race Events in New Jersey

There is no doubt that New Jersey is one of the best states for anyone who wants to place a bet on horse races.

With several great tracks and some big races throughout the year, there is something here for every type of fan of the sport.

United Nations Stakes, Monmouth Park

This event for thoroughbred horses aged three and over has been held at Monmouth Park since 1999, although the race itself dates back to 1953. It is a Grade I race that is held every July and takes place over 1 3/8 miles, which is 11 furlongs.

The purse here is a healthy $300,000 and is currently run under allowance conditions. 2020’s United Nation Stakes was won by Aquaphobia, with jockey Joe Bravo riding him home. Monmouth has racing on from May through to September and it has a luxury restaurant that is open throughout the year.

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Haskell Invitational Stakes, Monmouth Park

This is probably the most important event of the year at Monmouth, as the nation’s best 3-year-old horses are invited to take part in it.

The Haskell Stakes is a Grade I race that has been held in New Jersey since 1968, although it changed from a Handicap to a Stakes format in 2006.

The name of this race honors the racetrack’s former president / chairman Amory L. Haskell and the horses compete over 1 1/8 miles. With a purse of $1 million and fitting neatly into the space between the Triple Crown and the Breeder’s Cup, this is one of the horse racing calendar’s major events. The 2020 event was won by jockey Mike E. Smith on Authentic.

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The Hambletonian Stakes, Meadowlands Racetrack

The Meadowlands venue in New Jersey is perhaps best-known for being one of the leading simulcast locations, but it is also a great place to see harness racing. The Hambletonian Stakes is held here on the first Saturday each August and is one of the top events for three-year-old trotting Standardbreds.

This is the first of the three events that make up the Triple Crown of Harness Racing for Trotters and its history goes back to 1926, when it was held in New York. It moved around the country before ending up at Meadowlands in 1981.

The Cane Pace, Meadowlands Racetrack

Another interesting horse racing event in New Jersey, the Cane Pace is a harness race for Standardbred pacers. It has been a part of the sporting calendar since 1955 and moved to Meadowlands in 2015.

This event is typically included in the undercard that supports the Hambletonian Stakes. The horses run over 1 1/8 miles when 12 horses are competing, but the distance is reduced to 1 mile when there are just 11 horses taking part in it. The 2020 race was won by Tall Dark Stranger, with Yannick Gingras as the driver.

The Jersey Derby, Monmouth Park

Going back to Monmouth, we find this $100,000 race for thoroughbred three-year-olds. The first Jersey Derby was held way back in 1864 and it eventually moved to this racetrack in 1999. It is now held at the end of July or start of August each year, over a distance of 1 1/16 miles.

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This was once one of the greatest American horse races, of a stature similar to the Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes and so on. While it is no longer quite as important as it once was, it is still a listed race that is popular among horse racing fans. Vanzzy won the 2020 event, with jockey Paco Lopez riding him to victory. In 2021, the race was moved to May and It’s a Gamble came home in first place.

There you have it, some of the most famous events on a state with a long history in horse racing. Find our more about horse racing in NJ here:


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