2019 Racing Preview: 5 Races You Won’t Want to Miss

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

December 30th, 2018

With 2019 on the horizon, I’m already looking forward to another sensational year of racing and anticipating some of the exciting showdowns and matchups that we’ll witness across the globe.

Five races in particular are already on my radar as intriguing events that I’m excited to watch unfold. In chronological order, they are….

The Pegasus World Cup Invitational (gr. I)

When: January 26

Where: Gulfstream Park, Florida

The first two editions of the Pegasus World Cup were billed as two-horse battles between Arrogate and California Chrome (2017) and Gun Runner and West Coast (2018). In contrast, the 2019 Pegasus World Cup should be a considerably more contentious affair; the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Accelerate and the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) victor City of Light might be the favorites, but they’ll be joined by a strong group of challengers that could include the three-time Grade 1 winner McKinzie, the Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up Gunnevera, the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Battle of Midway, and the undefeated Mexican superstar Kukulkan. From a handicapping perspective, this Pegasus World Cup should be a much better betting race than the first two renewals.

The Dubai World Cup (UAE-I)

When: March 30

Where: Meydan, Dubai

With Accelerate slated for retirement after the Pegasus World Cup, there is unlikely to be a standout U.S. star in the Dubai World Cup, making the 1 ¼-mile race a more wide-open affair than in 2016 or 2017 when California Chrome and Arrogate, respectively, were much the best on paper and on the track. Will someone like McKinzie step up? Will Thunder Snow score a repeat victory for Dubai? Or will Le Vent Se Leve continue his ascent and steal the glory for Japan?

The Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Aus-I)

When: April 13

Where: Randwick, Australia

The 2,000-meter Queen Elizabeth Stakes could serve as the career finale for the Australia superhorse Winx, who is in the midst of an otherworldly 29-race win streak dating back to May 2015. It was recently confirmed that the seven-year-old daughter of Street Cry will remain in training through the beginning of 2019, with the Queen Elizabeth—a race she has won twice before in dominant fashion—looming as the logical sendoff for her remarkable career.

The Kentucky Derby (gr. I)

When: May 4

Where: Churchill Downs, Kentucky

Generally the most anticipated race in the United States each year, the Kentucky Derby is bound to feature a few exciting storylines and intriguing handicapping questions. Will trainer Bob Baffert secure a record-equaling sixth Derby victory? Will the favorite win for the seventh year in a row? As the race draws closer, I’ll be ranking all the top contenders in my . Be sure to follow along!

The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I)

When: October 6

Where: Longchamp, France

If the prospective field holds together, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe will absolutely be the race I’m most excited to see in 2019. The presence of the two-time Arc-winning filly Enable alone would be tremendous as she seeks an unprecedented third straight victory in Europe’s most prestigious race. But if she’s joined as expected by the sensational Japan Filly Triple Crown winner Almond Eye—seeking to secure the first Arc victory for her home nation—then the quality of the Arc will rise to an entirely different level, emerging as an intercontinental showdown between two phenomenal females.

Which races are you looking forward to in 2019?