Photo Courtesy of Ascot RacecourseHorse racing is one of the world's oldest sporting events, filled with adrenaline and excitement, dating back to the ancient Greek Olympics in 648 BC. Since, it has become an event filled with esteem, sophistication, and tradition — not to mention parties. The horses and their riders are respected and admired as they barrel towards a common goal, the finish line. There are many tracks all over the world but only a few are known as the biggest and best, hosting the most popular horse races known — like the Kentucky Derby and the Royal Ascot — and offering the best luxury amenities out there.
Photo Courtesy of Churchill Downs
Perhaps the best known racetrack out there is Louisville's Churchhill Downs, the official home of the world famous Kentucky Derby (May 3-4, 2013). Thankfully, since the track is so famous, there are plenty of options that let people in on some pretty great perks. The Turf Club is an exclusive, two-level private club that offers members luxury amenities, like gourmet meals and fantastic views of the racecourses. Found in the Clubhouse at the finish line, members are able to either bring guests with them or designate guests who are allowed to visit in your absence. Considering this is the Kentucky Derby, make sure your guests know about the dress code, which insists men wear collared shirts, dress slacks or khaki pants and that women wear dress slacks, dresses or skirts. It's $2,350 for the Season Turf membership, which includes track admission, entry to the Turf Club, a Season Box, parking, and the option to buy a third floor Clubhouse Box for Oaks and Derby.
Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky
Jockey Club Suites are also available, which would be great for either client entertainment or a place to watch the races with friends and family. Each suite has a private balcony that overlooks the track, a self-service wagering machine, a wet bar and first class service. The menu features gourmet cuisine, ranging from simple snacks like fresh vegetables to entrees like hickory-smoked brisket of beef. Able to accommodate up to 24 guests, these suites start at $350 for a regular race day and jump up to $500 for a premium race day.
Photo Courtesy of Pimlico Race Course
Home of the Preakness Stakes (May 18,2013), Pimlico first opened in 1870, making it one of the oldest tracks in America. This track has seen some legendary horses, like Seabiscuit and Secretariat, which helps make it a popular destination for racing enthusiasts. The Premier Player Club rewards members for wagering and gives you free admission on selected days. VIP members who wager $10,000 or more per month get bonuses at the end of each month. You can use your accumulated points for things like VIP tickets, season passes, free admission, gourmet cuisine, and more.
Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland
Pimlico also offers their Turfside Terrace, which promises an up-close racing experience that overlooks the home stretch and finish line. This all-inclusive experience includes a gourmet buffet, beer and wine, a souvenir program, entertainment, and access to private comfort stations and betting windows. Depending on when you want to go, prices range from $110 to $400. You can also choose to enjoy the Preakness Village, which is a first-class entertainment experience located Infield next to the finish line and winner's circle where the Woodlawn Vase is awarded to the winner. You are able to walk the horse racing's "Red Carpet" and enjoy exclusive amenities and get admission to the InfieldFest on May 18, which is a big party with famous musical guests. For pricing contact Pimlico.
Photo Courtesy of Ascot Racecourse
Known for being closely related to the British Royal Family, Ascot Racecourse hosts the Royal Ascot, which consists of 24 major races in the course of four days in June and is the year's centerpiece. Considering the Royal connection (the Queen consistently attends), this is more than just a race, it's a statement of wealth and style. The event features perhaps the strictest dress code of all, including top hats, tails, and ornate dresses. If you're looking for amenities, this is it. The 247 Private Boxes offer views across the entire racecourse, each including a private bar and dining room with a flat screen television, bespoke catering, and a private balcony. You also have access to private race viewing areas in the outside area of the Grandstand, providing seating for 15, as well as the Concourse Suite, which is directly opposite the Winning Post.
Ascot Racecourse, England
There are many different Box packages, including the Royal Ascot Box Package, which includes every amenity available, like a champagne reception with canapés, a four-course luncheon, morning coffee and biscuits, fine wines, and port or brandy with coffee. Prices can range from just under €1,000 to over €50,000.
Photo Courtesy of NYRA
Saratoga Race Course opened in 1863 and was featured in a scene from Ian Fleming's James Bond novel Diamonds Are Forever, putting it up there as one of the coolest tracks around. There are various suites available, affording you many different views and amenities. You can choose the At the Rail Pavilion, which is in the Clubhouse and offers a trackside view of the race. Included in the price is admission, a full buffet, bar service, and more. Top of the Stretch is a new picnic area where you can enjoy a more casual gathering.
Saratoga Race Course, New York
The Luxury Suites are going to be the best option for those really wanting the full experience. These climate controlled suites give fantastic views of the action while offering private betting windows, monitors, dining and bar options, and a rooftop observation deck if you get tired of being cooped up indoors. Saratoga has suites ranging $1,980 to $6,000, depending on the day and race you choose. You can also join for the trophy presentation in the Winner's Circle for $1,000.
Photo Courtesy of Meydan Racecourse
Home of the Dubai World Cup, Meydan Racecourse has plenty of private viewing options, like the Meydan Grandstand's Suites. With 72 suites available, these can accommodate anywhere from ten to 500 people and are located on five different levels. Those on Levels 3, 4 and 5 have their own private terraces and the suites on Levels 6 and 7 have their own balcony areas. A staff will be made available to you throughout the race, serving a variety of food and beverages from your private buffet and bar. The suites are interconnected so if you have a large group you can join spaces and enjoy the race together.
Meydan Racecourse, Dubai
The Sky Bubble is also worth mentioning, which features the track's iconic crescent roof with 360 degree views of Dubai's skyline. Within you will find live cooking stations, beverages, the Fork Buffet, and a free seating lounge. It also allows you access to the Apron Views, which is where famous musicians perform, like Grammy Award Winner Seal. For price information contact Meydan Racecourse.
Photo Courtesy of Del Mar Racetrack
Found just 20 miles north of San Diego, the Del Mar Racetrack was built by a famous partnership including Bing Crosby, actor Pat O'Brien, Jimmy Durante, Charles S. Howard and Oliver Hardy. With a celebrity-rich history it should come as no surprise that the Del Mar track has some pretty great Celebrity Suites, found on the fifth floor of the grandstand, overlooking the finish line. The climate controlled suites (each named after a famous personality, including Bing Crosby and Betty Grable) feature a private cocktail bar, mutuel clerks, television monitors, open onto a balcony that overlooks the saddling paddock and walking ring, and are able to accommodate up to 48 people. Prices range from $1,100 a day to $1,500 a day.
Del Mar Racetrack, California
The Luxury Suites can be found in the Turf Club, which gives a bird's-eye view of the race track and can accommodate up to 25 people. Featuring an expansive beverage and food selection, a private cocktail bar, a stand-alone mutuel machine and television monitors, these suites aim to give you everything you need. Since only one Luxury Suite is available per day, you may want to reserve one ahead of time, which will cost you up to $1,750. Skyrooms are also available, which are found on the sixth floor and give panoramic views. Each room features a private balcony, cocktail bar, and an array of buffet menus. Unlike the Luxury Suites, the Skyrooms have no dress code so you can decide how casual or dressy you are. Prices range from $1,400 to $3,500, depending on how many people are in your party and which day you choose.