US Vs. European Horse Racing

What are American’s view of the quality of their own racing circuit and horses in relation to the other major racing area, Europe? I have been trying to work out which continent has the highest QUALITY racing in terms of it’s classic winners and quality in depth and can’t seem to find a way to reasonably compare the two.

On the occassions US and European horses do meet in races, comparrison is usualy impossible. e.g in The Breeders Cup European entrants usually suffer from inexperience on dirt, left handed tracks and the fact US horses are allowed to use certain perfectly legal drugs to aid their performance that are prohibited in Europe. When Americans come to Europe (e.g R.Ascot) they seem to fare equally badly for the same reasons, inexperience on turf etc. This does not allow for fair comparrison.

US races are more valuable than European races for sure, but this is a reflection on America’s generally higher level of affluence and sport investment rather than quality. This is counter-balanced that Europes biggest races are worth less finacially but worth more in terms of prestige (e.g The Derby, Pix da L’Arc, Royal Ascot).

So… Do Americans think they have the best racing in the world? What do they think of European races? Would an American Race go-er be more impressed by the form of a horse that had won The British Derby and Prix da L’Arc, or The Kentuck Derny and Arlington Million?

Have you not ever heard of The Melbourne Cup, or the Cox Plate, or the Golden Slipper, or the Caulfied Cup?

Does the name Phar Lap mean nothing to you?

Ignorance might be bliss, but it’s also a curse too I find.

Yes thank you boo boo boo, I’m well aware of what all of them are, and I have the highest respect for Australian racing and this year with the emergence of Choisoir, it’s horses. However before you go calling me ignorant, I was not mentioning it in my question because Autralian racing, like that in Hong Kong, Japan and to a lesser degree in South Africa whilst very good and occassionaly world class, is largely a domestic affair. Very few, with exceptions I know, Australian trainers and horses prosper at the highest level in Europe or America, many try. Whilst European horses (particularly that of DK Weld) have gone to Australia and taken the major honours, like in last years Melbourne cup. And for example the year before, Give The Slip which only just lost out in the Mel’ Cup and was a distance ahead of the 3rd horse was a mere pacemaker and group 3 horse in Europe, but shone in Australia. Godolphin and othe major trainers only tend to send their second string to race in Oz. My apologies if you took offence, but if you disagree, find me any major respectable expert who proposes Australian racing is of the calibre of US or European generally.

Regards, Joe

Joe Americans think they have the best of everything.You didn’t know that?Having said that in terms of horseracing it’s apples to oranges,I’m afraid,except in rare cases.

US horses,at this time in history, are bred and bought with an emphasis on speed while the stayer has more value in Europe.In regards to this numerous American races have been shortened thru the years,that the old classic 1 1/4 races have sometimes been shortened to 1 1/8th,which seems to be the most prominent distance of graded (group) races in the country.And mile and a halfs on dirt are all but gone,and most of those on grass run at lower levels.

Look for an American to win the sprint in any given year in the BC,and a Euro to win the 1 1/2 grass classic.The American by virtue of distance and surface will usually always beat the best Europe has to offer in the 1 1/4 dirt race,tho at times a better rider can produce a win.Euro jockeys,IMO,dont have the pace sense Americans do in these races.That opinion let me collect on Arcangue some years back tho his fellow Euro entrant sported at least as good running lines as he,but brought along his Euro jockey (or was a Euro pickup forget which).That jockey made the mistake on moving too soon in a race packed with class speed and turnmovers.

A 2 mile race in the US could be won by a claimer,and are usually the only races carded at the distance (starter’caps)as most horsemen think the distance too far for their fragile nags.Must be a distance limitation on Lasix :slight_smile:

The European races might be worth more in prestige in Europe, but the only races that really matter in the US are the ones comprising the Triple Crown - Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes, Preakness Stakes.

I believe that the US has produced the greatest horse ever in Secretariat, but I couldn’t tell you how things stand now in terms of comparable quality.

This would be difficult to do, since I’ve found that the experts generally are favoured towards their local horses. The pages of the Daily Racing Form are full of American columnists saying that American horses are the best. The few Canadian columnists that appear in the DRF favor Canadian horses. And when I’ve been in Australia, all the racing commentary I’ve read talks about the high calibre of Australian horses.

I think, Joe, that when you ask about quality racing, as you do in your OP, you have to define the term further. Do you mean, for example, that the country that produces the most winners of international stakes races has a higher quality of racing? The country that produces horses that have the fastest times? The country where favourites win most of the time? The country that produces both turf and dirt winners?

I might be impressed by horses that won those European races if I had more information on those races and horses–if those races were broadcast publicly on TV, for example, or were offered on closed-circuit at my local track or OTB. I don’t see them there, however, nor do I see European result charts in my local paper or DRF. When European horses do run in North America (and I’ll say North America, since Canadian and US racing are pretty much integrated), their PP line in the DRF is, to my eyes anyway, abbreviated; and without the information I need to be able to compare them to the local runners. I see this as more a function of how European charts differ, though; not a deliberate attempt to hide anything.

In short, I think we’re back to the “apples and oranges” approach. Comparison is difficult simply because racing and charts and records and all the other things we use in our “home” location are not consistent between locations.

Thanks for the comments so far, have been helpfull. To clarify on the idea of ‘quality’. I suppose it all comes down to the immensely banal question… is the best american Mile horse beter than European, year by year is the winner of The Derby considered better than the US equivilent over the distance? My point was I personally no of no true way of working this out. On their own conditions the domestic horses tend to press their experience home to overcome the visitors, whether this be American horses struggling on turf and over 1 mile 2 furlongs, and vice versa for European horses.

Personally I think the way it is right now The Breeders Cup meeting is the closest we get to a true meeting of continents. But all that happens is usually the Europeans show their quality in the races that suit them, and The Americans do the same.

The handicapping system whilst designed to be impartial is rarely so. I just don’t know how to compare accurately.

To be succinct, I would measure quality as winning a high profile race against equals. There are only a handfull of races in the world each year that a truly FULL of class group one winners competing. The European ones I know of I believe to be The Dubai World Cup, The King George & Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Stakes, The L’Arc de Triomphe and St James’s Palace Stakes. I assume there are a similar number of such races in the US. Comparrison of the winners of these races would I believe answer the question.

Moderator’s Note: Trotting over to IMHO.

I think that’s like trying to figure out which nation, worldwide, has the best athletes overall. I mean, we have this big honking competititon every four years to figure it out.

What happens, though? Usually each country does well in the sport(s) they excel at and, um, not so well in the others. Same as in the Breeders Cup meet: the Brits and the Yanks each do well in the type of races they excel at, and not so well in the other type.

I don’t really much care whether we have the best racing in the world. Going to the races here is fun and exciting and gives me a chance to look over some truly gorgeous animals, and that’s enough for me.

Thanks crazy, I know you’re right, it’s a silly question. I guess rather than an accurate answer I was after american’s perception.

It’s a question that’s been debated since it became possible for horses to be transported around the world to race … I suppose one way to find out would be to take the winners of the “big” races in Europe, America (and Australia), and have them race off on neutral territory

Well, I’m an American, and my opinion is that most of our best breeding stock was sold overseas years ago. Most of the lines popular in the US these days (especially Storm Cat progeny, ick) are bred for early speed but not much longevity.

Where are the modern equivalents of the old campaigners like Forego, Kelso or Dr. Fager? I tell ya where, there aren’t any. Most of the top horses bred in the US these days break down before their fourth birthday. They are bred to mature quickly, and do well in the short distance 2 year old races so they can qualify for the big 3 year old events. However, most of them can’t handle the classic distances, which IMHO is why nobody has one the Triple Crown in such a long time. Sure, plenty of horses have won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, but sadly there aren’t many horses out there with the stamina necessary for the 1.5 mile Belmont.

There is a sad state of affairs in American racing today.

Joetimg, I’m curious - will the Million (being run tomorrow - I’ll be there - YAY!!!) be broadcast where you are?

fruitbat, would you mind if I brought your comments to my husband’s attention and then sometime next week emailed you about them? He’s far more knowledgeable than I, but I’d love to talk with you about your points - I especially like your point about the Triple Crown.

Hey, Missy2U, the above post attributed to fruitbat is actually mine. He’s my husband, and I forgot to check which of our user IDs was logged in before I started posting, so he got credit. Feel free to e-mail me at Or you can also e-mail fruitbat, but he doesn’t know a damn thing about horse racing. :wink:

Just reading over my previous post, and I can’t believe I typed “one” instead of “won.” What kind of brain fart was that?

The Arlington Million won’t be broadcast live in the UK but it will be shown live in Bookies around the country I’m guessing. To be honest there isn’t a lot of betting on US racing in the UK for three reasons. One there is enough racing to bet on here, vice versa for punters in the states I guess. Two form is less easy to decifer when it’s foreign, people know the individual facets of courses in UK, saying a horse won at Churchill Downs deoesn’t mean as much as winner at ascot to a student of form here. And thirdly plain and simple, time difference, peak betting hours in UK are midday to 5pm GMT which doesn’t sit with US time, and vice versa.