Ancient Romans referred to the sultry days of summer as dog days; they associated hot and humid with the “Dog Star” Sirius, the brightest star in the constellation. While July and August in the United States can be sweltering, ardent fans of horse racing see the two months as a time to delight in the best array of races of the entire year.

The main attractions are east and west, at Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York and Del Mar near San Diego, California. Daily cards at these venerable tracks offer bettors (as well as people who just want to watch) one competitive race after another to wager on. To illustrate, The Whitney last Saturday at Saratoga set a record for the amount of money wagered and the winner of the race, 4-year-old McKinsey, trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, became the early favorite in the Breeders’ Cup entries for the Classic at Santa Anita on November 1st and 2nd.

The winner of the Travers, the “Mid-Summer” Derby, at Saratoga on August 24, 2019, will also be likely to be pointed to the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Omaha Beach, the 2019 Kentucky Derby favorite who was scratched after suffering an entrapped epiglottis, is reportedly training sensationally for the August 25th Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar. If the colt stays healthy, he will join the cast of serious contenders in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Saratoga and Del Mar get most of the attention, but other racetracks have some premier events–notably, the Haskell at Monmouth Park and the Arlington Million at Arlington Park in Chicago. The Grade 3 “summer” derbies in Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, and West Virginia make for some interesting match-ups. Mr. Money easily won the West Virginia Derby Saturday for his fourth-straight Grade 3 win, and appears capable of moving up to Grade 1 company.

Monmouth Park on the New Jersey shore in Oceanport has been around almost as long as Saratoga Race Course and offers racing fans a welcoming summer ambiance and competitive races to watch and bet on. Monmouth Park’s long and storied history dates back to July 30, 1870, when the track opened. In its early days, Monmouth had such high-quality racing that it was known informally as the “Newmarket of America,” which was a reference to the renowned original home of horse racing in England, Newmarket Race Course. Over the years, Monmouth Park experienced financial ups and downs and today is operated by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which purchased the track in 1986.

In addition to Del Mar and Saratoga, far less publicized racetracks in cities throughout the USA are places for fans to spend a relaxing hot and humid day or night while non-racing fans are left to complain about the Dog Days of Summer.

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