What Are Stakes Races?

Marcus Bazzano
By Marcus Bazzano
What Are Stakes Races?

What Is A Stakes Race?

A stakes race is a prestigious horse race where owners pay fees to compete, with the track adding to the purse. These high-level events often feature specific age, sex, or ability groups, and offer large prizes, including millions of dollars. 

What Are Horse Racing Graded Stakes?

Horse racing graded stakes are the most elite level of stakes races, classified into three grades:

  • Grade I
  • Grade II
  • Grade III

These are based on purse value and competition quality. These races attract top horses and offer the highest purses, with Grade I being the most prestigious, often determining championship titles and Eclipse Awards.

What Are Grade 1 Stakes Races?

Grade 1 stakes races are the highest level of competition in horse racing, featuring the best horses and largest purses. Examples include the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup Classic, offering millions of dollars in prize money.

Jockey Manuel Franco celebrates atop Tiz the Law after winning the 152nd Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park. Photo by Getty Images.

What Is The Horse Racing Stakes Schedule? 

Find the latest horse racing schedules at the FanOdds Horse Racing Schedule. Get up-to-date information on upcoming races and never miss a thrilling horse racing event again. Stay informed and plan your bets.

What Is A Horse Claiming Race?

A horse claiming race is a type of race where each horse is eligible to be purchased, or “claimed,” by another owner for a set price. These races often feature horses of similar ability and value, with the claiming price determining the level of competition. It's a way for owners to buy and sell horses.

How Do Claiming Races Work?

Claiming races are a type of handicapping for horse racing, where horses valued at similar amounts compete against each other. Each horse has a claiming price set by the trainer, and they're all for sale. 

Licensed owners can submit a claim in writing, depositing the full amount with the racing secretary at least 10 minutes before post time. The claim is irrevocable, and the new owner takes possession when the race starts. 

Claiming races are at the bottom of the hierarchy, below maiden races, and provide a way for owners to buy and sell horses based on their performance.

Why Put A Horse In A Claiming Race?

Owners put horses in claiming races to sell them, move them to a new level of competition, or reduce financial losses. It's a strategic decision to find a suitable buyer, upgrade or downgrade their stable, or cut costs if a horse is underperforming.

What Is An Allowance Race?

An allowance race is a type of horse race for horses that have won a restricted number of races, usually one or two. These races offer a higher purse than maiden races and are a step up in competition, allowing horses to face others with similar experience and ability.

Horses break out of the gate during the 145th Running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. Photo by Getty Images.

What Are The Different Horse Race Categories?

There are 10 different types of horse race categories in the United States, you can find them below:

  • Thoroughbred 
  • Maiden
  • Allowance Races
  • Claiming Races 
  • Stake
  • Handicap
  • Endurance Racing
  • Flat Racing
  • Jump Racing
  • Harness Racing

What Are Classes Of Horse Races?

There are five different levels of horse racing in the US, you can see the order of class below:

  1. Stakes
  2. Allowance
  3. Starter
  4. Claiming 
  5. Maiden 
Marcus Bazzano
By Marcus Bazzano

Marcus is a young but experienced sports journalist and content creator, having been in the industry 5+ years. He has written racing specific content for leading racing sites such as RacingBase, Odds and now Fan Odds. Marcus learnt his love for racing from his father, who has owned multiple horses in Marcus' lifetime.