It has been an eventful year already in the horse racing world, all around the country.

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Many casual fans think that the calendar ends once the final race at Belmont ends the Triple Crown, but that could not be further from the truth. Yes, the Triple Crown races are important, but much of the season happens from July through November, culminating with the biggest two days in horse racing, the Breeders Cup.

The Haskell at Monmouth Park (I hope you got your hat, and if you have an extra one, please send it to me!) in New Jersey ended with Mandaloun as the victor after a crazy race. The six-week Saratoga meet was one of the best in the history of the event, which was expected after a year of COVID-19 in 2020.

But it is not done: there are still some major dates left, including one not far away from New Jersey. So what are the top six days left on the racing calendar for the rest of 2021? Here is a look (all races listed are Grade I).

1- Pennsylvania Derby, Parx Casino, Saturday, September 25

Nine stakes races at the Bensalem (just outside of Philadelphia) track get the post-Saratoga racing going again, and there could be some big names on the cards.

2- American Pharoah Stakes, Santa Anita, Saturday, October 2

This race for the two-year-olds can kickstart careers, and is one of five graded stakes races to open up the fall meet at Santa Anita Race Track (Friday, Oct. 1 to Sunday, Oct. 31). This is a special weekend at the track.

3- Shadwell Turf Mile, Keeneland, Saturday, October 9

A $1 million turf race for 3+ year-old horses. It is part of a big weekend at Keeneland (Fall Stars Weekend). Win here, and you are in the big one: the Breeders’ Cup Mile

4- Caiborne Breeders’ Futurity, Keeneland, Saturday, October 9

Essential Quality won this race last year, and set himself up for another monster campaign in 2021. The only race he has lost was the Kentucky Derby, but he came back to win the Belmont Stakes, and just won the Grade I Travers Stakes at Saratoga: remember that for later.

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From the site:

The Claiborne Breeders' Futurity Stakes is an American Grade I Thoroughbred horse race held annually in early October at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky. Currently offering a purse of $400,000, the race is open to two-year-old horses and is run at a distance of one and one-sixteenth miles on the dirt. The race is also currently part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge series. The winner automatically qualifies for the TVG Juvenile presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance.

5- Breeders’ Cup, Del Mar, November 5-6

What better way to end the big meet season than at the scenic Del Mar Race Track just north of San Diego. The best of the best will be here. If you like betting tough races, this is it: only the Saratoga Meet comes close.

Can any horse stop Essential Quality? We shall soon see.

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