An introduction to the history of classic US horse racing
The first relationship between humans and domesticated horses is clouded in the mists of time. However, scientists believe that the horse was first domesticated approximately 6,000 years ago on the Steppes of Central Asia.
Skip forward a couple of millennia to the 12th century and a time when the European Knights returning from the Crusades brought with them the finest Arab stallions and mares they had plundered on their campaign. Back at home in France and Britain, these immaculately sculped thoroughbreds were highly prized and used to breed with the Knights’ native horses.
The new ‘super horses’ became the playthings of royalty, nobility, and rich merchants who would race their animals against each other in a bid to outshine their counterparts. The preoccupation with horse racing by the upper classes gave their newfound sporting attraction the title, ‘The Sport of Kings’.
Since those early beginnings, the passion for thoroughbred horses, and horse racing has crossed the Atlantic and has become deeply embedded in contemporary US culture.
Even before the foundation of the American Jockey Club on February 9th, 1894 – the body charged with defining the standards and regulation for racing, racecourses, and breeding – horse enthusiasts, wealthy landowners, and those with aspirations of grandeur were importing thoroughbred breeding stock from Great Britain and the European continent to polish their reputations among their horse-fascinated peers.
One of the great fascinations that came with the importation of these racehorses, was the added attraction that came with gambling on races featuring the new equine migrants. A fierce horse racing rivalry grew between wealthy merchants and landowners, and also between thoroughbred owners from both the North and the South.
One such race occurred on May 27th, 1823 when the thoroughbreds, American Eclipse, and Sir Henry met at Union Race Course to do battle on the turf in what was billed as the first-ever North versus South contest. (Eventually won by American Eclipse)
Despite the setbacks of the American Civil War, when the thoroughbred breeding centers of Virginia and the Carolinas were all but destroyed, and the animals themselves were forced into military service, the sport has continued to grow in popularity across the whole continent.
The sport’s biggest races across the USA, most notably the Classics like the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Breeders’ Cup, attract the rich and famous from across the US and beyond to enjoy the lavish spectacles that are the richest races in the country.
Private jet charters to the homes of the US Classics
The horse racing Classics are some of the most glamorous and glitzy social calendar events to be held anywhere in the United States, with private jets flying in owners, breeders, sponsors, and racing lovers from around the country from California to New York State.
Summer is considered to be the high season for horse racing’s classic events, where millionaires and billionaires rub shoulders with the elite of business, sport, and entertainment. Local airports, airfields, and landing strips are abuzz with arriving private and business jets, ensuring their occupants have to spend no more time than necessary making their way to the racecourse, and the hopeful prospect of popping champagne corks.
Thanks to the rise in popularity, and the recent affordability of private jet charters, the classic race meetings are now the target of groups of racing fans and high-net-worth individuals wishing to experience the thrills of thoroughbred horse racing, many perhaps for the first time.
For high-flyers who want to enjoy the thrills of some of America’s most prestigious Classic racing events, private jet charters offer the freedom to tailor the whole experience directly with location, schedule, the number of guests, and any unique requirements.
For example, a group of friends wishing to enjoy the thrills of the Kentucky Derby, a Grade One Classic with over $2million prize money at stake, can fly directly into any one of 6 airports all within 50 miles of the race track. Without the hassle of major airports, Derby-goers can arrive in style at a private airport or landing strip and watch the runners and riders in the parade ring before the limousine’s champagne has had a chance to lose its chill.
What’s more, is that all of the USA’s major race tracks are easily accessible by private air charters.
The top 5 classic US horse races
Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, Louisville, KY – Probably the most famous of the American horse racing classics, the Grade I race sees 20 3-year-olds battle it out for a winner’s purse of $2 million. Run over a dirt track of one and one-quarter miles, the race for both colts and geldings comes as the culmination of the 35 race series where the winners are awarded points and the prospect of joining the other winners in the starting gates.
Preakness Stakes, Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore, Maryland – Held on the third Saturday in May, the Preakness Stakes is the second in the Triple Crown of America’s grandest races, the other two being the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes. Run over a mile on dirt, the Grade I race is one of the highlights on US racing’s social calendar.
Belmont Stakes, Belmont Park, Elmont, New York – The Classic Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, known as The Test of Champions and The Run for the Carnations comes as the final leg of US racing’s Triple Crown. Usually held on the first or second Saturday in June, the race, run over 1.5 miles, the 2004 Belmont Stakes attracted a TV viewing audience of almost 30 million, the highest viewership since the Triple Crown was won by the legendary Seattle Slew in 2004.
Breeders’ Cup, Various Locations, USA – All world racing leads to the ultimate international horse racing Classic, the Breeders Cup World Championships. Held over two days, the 14 race card attracts some of the top thoroughbred racehorses, trainers, and jockeys in the world, along with a following circus of celebrities, business people, and sports fans. Being a part of one of the world’s greatest racing spectacles, and arriving by private jet makes for a truly great experience where sporting history unfolds.
Travers Stakes, Saratoga Race Course, Saratoga Springs, New York – First run in 1864, the Grade I Travers Stakes, run over 10 furlongs, is a mid-summer highlight for Classic racing enthusiasts and one of the most spectacular events on the US racing calendar. Named after William R. Travers, the president of the old Saratoga Racing Association, the 10-furlong race is the oldest held specifically for 3-year-olds anywhere in the United States, and comes with a winner’s purse of over $1.25 million.
Private horse racing jet charters – straight from the horse’s mouth
Private plane and jet charters are the preferred mode of transport for owners, breeders, jockeys, and sponsors for whom time is their most valuable commodity. For fans of the Classic US horse races, private jet charters bring an additional glamorous element to the already thrilling experience of watching some of the greatest sporting horses in the world battle for domination.
Chartering a private jet can mean getting to the racecourse, and back again in one day if necessary, when ground transport – especially at major race festivals – can be a time-consuming process. Most of the major US racecourses are accessible via multiple smaller airports, private airfields and airstrips, adding more convenience to an already exhilarating experience.
Arriving in style and comfort can greatly enhance the overall experience offered by Classic horse races. Additionally, many businesses and large corporations use major race days, and private business jet hires to entertain guests, clients, friends, and business partners. With private jet charters, the itinerary is totally up to the organizer and in cooperation with a reputable private jet charter company, even the tiniest of details can be accommodated.
For corporate travelers, a good charter partner can arrange everything from branded headrests and champagne dining to fully customized aircraft livery and luxury ground transportation.
Professional and long-established private jet charter companies have been organizing racing travel throughout the USA for many years, and know exactly what’s entailed. An expert charter provider can take the burden out of any group of racing enthusiasts’ travel plans while fully enhancing the whole Classic racing experience.
Catering for solo travelers, couples, corporate executives, or even groups of 50 or 60 racing fans, a reputable charter company will go the extra distance to ensure a smooth and surprise-free experience. Every successful private jet experience should start with a conversation with the experts who can make sure that your ‘Sport of Kings’ of experience is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.