4 Most Famous Horse Races In Canada

Horse racing has been around for hundreds of years, with the world’s oldest horse race taking place as early as 1656. In Canada, horse racing is a popular sport for enthusiasts, spectators, and sports bettors alike. Horse racing in the Great White North began in the early colonial era and started as a leisurely pursuit among settlers in the area. It has since cemented itself in Canadian sports culture and is now a major player in the sports industry attracting top riders, breeders, bettors, and spectators from all around the world. 

Horse racing has come a long way from where it started in Canada. Racing events have changed, moving away from casual affairs, and now offer spectators formal events including the race, wagering opportunities, dining experiences, entertainment, and more. Wagering on horse races has always been popular, however it too has seen changes throughout the years. Once punters could only wager in person at the track whereas now, thanks to advancements in technology, bets can be placed in person or online. Canada betting sites allow horse racing and sports enthusiasts to place wagers from anywhere and at any time, and as writer Neil Roarty points out, they offer unbeatable odds and a variety of wagering options. Not only have the races and wagering changed, but technology has also changed how breeders and riders care for their horses as well.

Although some aspects of horse racing in Canada have changed over the years, certain races, like The Queen’s Plate, have been part of the sports landscape since the 1800s and are steeped in tradition for Canadian sports enthusiasts. 

1. The Queen’s Plate 

The Queen’s Plate is the oldest and most famous horse race in Canada. It was established in 1860 and holds the title of the oldest continuously run thoroughbred horse race in North America. It is even older than the famous Kentucky Derby which takes place in the USA. The Queen’s Plate is a 1 ¼ mile race for three-year-old thoroughbred horses. The race was started when Queen Victoria was in power and was originally created in the hopes that the race could be celebrated each year to mark the Queen’s birthday.

The race takes place at the Woodbine Racetrack in the territory of Toronto each year. The track itself is a world-class track with facilities to cater to and host a crowd. In the past, the Queen’s Plate has seen a number of champion horses, including Northern Dancer and Dance Smartly. Each year, the winner of the race receives a gold trophy and a blanket made from 600 red roses after finishing the race. 

Because the race is the oldest horse racing event in Canada, it is a prestigious event and is considered one of the premier horse races in Canada. As such, the race itself draws a wide audience of horse enthusiasts, sports enthusiasts, and fashion enthusiasts who enjoy trying to predict the winner of the race each year and placing wagers accordingly. The race has become a place where attendees wear their finest attire creating a very glamorous atmosphere at the track. The Queen’s Plate race is a part of the Canadian Triple Crown and is considered the first jewel, followed by the Prince of Wales Stakes and the Breeder’s Stakes. 

2. The Canadian Derby

The Canadian Derby is another well-known horse race in Canada. It was first started in 1930 and takes place in Western Canada at Edmonds Northlands Park. Edmonton, where the race now takes place, was a popular area for horse racing and general equine activity in the early 20th century. After seeing the success of other races, local organizers in the area decided to establish a signature race of their own to showcase their thoroughbreds. 

The track at Edmonds Northlands Park is notorious for being challenging. It has large sweeping turns and a very long homestretch which challenges jockeys and horses throughout each race. The track keeps things interesting and exciting for spectators, who enjoy watching and wagering on the race each year. With a long and rich history, the Canadian Derby has become an annual tradition for Canadian horse enthusiasts. 

3. The Prince of Wales Stakes 

The Prince of Wales Stakes is the second race in the Canadian Triple Crown. The race takes place each year in Ontario at Fort Erie Racetrack and attracts a huge audience of horse enthusiasts who come to watch the action unfold. The race was first established in 1929 and was named after the Prince of Wales (later known as Kind Edward VIII). The race was named after the Prince of Wales because he attended the very first race. 

The race is restricted to only three-year-old thoroughbred horses and takes place over a 1 3/16 mile track. The Prince of Wales Stakes is known for its challenging dirt track course and location just offshore of Lake Erie, creating a beautiful setting and backdrop for a race. The race is similar in atmosphere to the Queen’s Plate, with a lively audience full of horse enthusiasts and sports bettors each trying to predict the winner and often placing wagers to support their favorites. 

4. The Breeders’ Stakes 

Founded in 1889, the Breeder’s Stakes is the last crown in the Canadian Triple Crown race and horse enthusiasts consider it to be the ultimate test of stamina, skill, and determination for horses and jockeys alike. The race is held each year at the Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto and showcases three-year-old thoroughbreds during a 1 ½ mile race. Because the race is 1 ½ miles, it is the longest race of the three Canadian Triple Crown races. 

The Woodbine Racetrack is a turf course with large turns and long open distances. Because the race is 1 ½ miles long, it can be challenging for both horses and jockeys due to its length. As the last race in the Canadian Triple Crown, the Breeder’s Cup draws huge crowds of horse enthusiasts who dress in their finest clothes to watch the thoroughbreds compete and place bets on who will win the Triple Crown.  


With a number of famous horse races in Canada, enthusiasts are spoilt for choice. Horse racing in the country has a rich history, dating back hundreds of years. The Triple Crown in Canada consists of the Queen’s Plate, The Prince of Wales Cup, and the Breeders Cup, all of which are prestigious events for thoroughbred horses. In addition, the Canadian Derby offers enthusiasts the opportunity to watch and wager on three-year-old thoroughbreds in Edmonton and has become a race filled with tradition over the years. 

Enthusiasts and sports fans often enjoy attending the races in person, watching on television from home, or live-streaming races as they happen to enjoy the action. While wagering has been a popular way to engage in horse racing for years, advancements in technology have seen a growing number of punters turning to online sportsbooks and even anonymous casinos in order to place their wagers. 

While horse racing may become more popular in Canada in the coming years, we can expect to see the above-mentioned races stay firmly in place, sticking with the traditions that Canadians have known and loved for decades.