Horse racing first came to Colorado in 1950 after pari-mutuel betting was legalized. This led to the opening of Centennial Racetrack in Littleton, just outside of Denver. While, ultimately, this track wouldn’t be a success, it did open the door for racing fans in Colorado. Today, there is one active track in Colorado — Arapahoe Park, which features live racing annually from May to August.
This detailed guide to horse racing in Colorado begins by focusing on Arapahoe Park. You’ll find out about the venue, the racing calendar, biggest races, types of bets you can place and what you can expect when making a visit. Next, the 11 off-track betting venues are covered. You’ll also find out how to legally place horse racing bets online below.
Today, Arapahoe Park is the lone racetrack in Colorado. It is based in Arapahoe County, on the outskirts of Aurora. The track features up to 40 meetings annually, with all of the racing squeezed into the summer months. Every meeting on its calendar takes place either on a Saturday, Sunday or Monday — and always with a post time of 1 p.m.
The first ever race at Arapahoe Park took place on May 25, 1984, when Easy Bloom won a five furlong race in a time of 1 minute, 00.4 seconds. Ridden by Dallen Thomas, Easy Bloom would see off rivals Fullofit and Brooklyn Lu to clinch victory and make history as the first ever winner on the track.
All races run at Arapahoe Park are run on the dirt. The track has a distance of 1 mile. The average daily purse on offer at the track is in excess of $70,000, ensuring that it attracts high quality fields throughout the season.
In total, there are 38 stakes races run at the track, roughly equivalent to one for every meeting. Quieter racing days will feature no stakes races — while the busier days, especially at the end of the season, can feature a handful of the biggest races. Many of the biggest races at Arapahoe Park take place over sprint distances of 400 yards or less featuring quarter horses.
The final day of the season sees a bumper crowd at the racetrack and features three of the biggest races featured at Arapahoe Park:
On heading to the Arapahoe Park website, you’ll find a very handy betting guide, detailing all of the different bet types you can enjoy in great detail.
Below is a summary of the most popular bet types:
Throughout the summer, you can enjoy a fantastic choice of racing. General admission to the track is just $5, with free admission for anyone 17 and under, while seniors aged 55 or older will be admitted for the cost of a dollar. There is plenty of free parking at the track, too, ensuring that costs are low for a day of racing entertainment. Food and beverages are available throughout the weekend on the grandstand, third and fourth levels (racegoers on Monday will face a limited choice). A gift shop on site features equine themed gifts, jewelry, art, home decor, collectibles, toys, games and a whole lot more.
In addition to Arapahoe Park, there are 11 off-track betting sites in Colorado.
These first came to Colorado in 1991 when the government approved limited stakes gambling, which came as a result of the relaxation of gambling laws. As well as having the opportunity to bet on races from within the state, simulcast racing all year round gives residents of Colorado the opportunity to wager at other tracks and enjoying the best that racing has to offer.
Here is a list of the OTB venues:
As well as heading to off-track betting locations, residents of Colorado can enjoy placing horse racing bets online. Two of the biggest names in online pari-mutuel betting are available. Here is a detailed look at them:
BetAmerica has been offering horse racing betting throughout the country for more than two decades, ensuring a level of customer service that is second to none.
New customers at BetAmerica can take advantage of a 100% match deposit bonus of up to $100. Simply make that first deposit, and BetAmerica will match the amount in bonus funds. This bonus scheme isn’t a complicated one, either; every time you place a bet, bonus funds to the value of 10% of that bet are released. For example, a $50 wager will see $5 of the bonus funds cleared and free to wager with. To take full advantage of this bonus offer, it’s recommended that your first deposit be $100 or more.
In addition to this bonus offer, there are wager rewards and a VIP program, open to both new and existing customers. Each time you place a bet at any track, you’ll earn points in the wager rewards program — and you can convert these points into cash. The more bets you place, the higher up the wager reward ladder you’ll go.
You’ll earn four VIP points for every dollar wagered at tracks owned by Churchill Downs (Arlington Park, Churchill Downs, Fair Grounds Racecourse, Miami Valley Raceway (H), Oak Grove (H), Ocean Downs (H), Presque Isle Downs, and Turfway Park), and one point for every dollar wagered at any other track. Points can be redeemed for cash at any time, as long as you have 100 points or more (100 points equates to $0.10). You’ll also receive points bonuses at the start of each month if you have reached a level of $5,000 in monthly wagering or more, which can see a reward multiplier of up to 11x the standard wager rewards points.
In addition, there are four VIP levels — bronze, silver, gold and platinum. As you rise through these levels, additional benefits include free admission to tracks such as Churchill Downs, a dedicated VIP player services team, a 20% discount on all Brisnet purchases, additional free past performances and more.
At BetAmerica you can enjoy the same full range of wagers described above at Arapahoe Park — if you enjoy the straightforward win, place or show bets or something more exotic, the opportunity is there. You’ll also find the Pick 6 option, where you’ll need to pick six winners in a row. This can make for a big-money wager — when it isn’t won on a certain day, the entire prize pool will carry over into the next day, with incredible, life-changing amounts of cash to be won.
Racing coverage is both national and international. You can enjoy all the top domestic racing, including big events such as the three triple crown races and the Breeders’ Cup. You can also enjoy the best of the international action, with meetings daily from across the globe, including racing hotbeds such as the United Kingdom, France and Australia. You’ll be able to watch the action live and also access past performance replays — a great way to check out the form in depth.
Free past performances can aid you in making your betting decisions. Purchase select PPs and you’ll be refunded when placing a wager at that meeting.
Having formed in 1999, TVG is a digital, cable, and television network devoted to horse racing, with a particular focus on live streaming of horse racing on its betting site.
TVG takes a different approach to a welcome bonus, with a first deposit bonus of 50% up to $200 bet on the first deposit.
As with BetAmerica, all players have the opportunity to enter the wagering rewards program, where points earned can be turned into cash. You’ll earn one point for every dollar that is wagered, and when you reach a total of 2,500 points, you’ll be awarded a bet credit of $5. This $5 credit acts in exactly the same way as cash, in that having placed a bet with it, any returns are able to be withdrawn immediately. If you don’t place a bet within a period of two months, the membership in the rewards program will end, so it is worth bearing this in mind.
As well as the rewards program, you can also take advantage of a refer-a-friend bonus at TVG. Simply invite one of your friends to TVG, and the friend will receive a match bonus of $25, as well as a $100 match bonus on the first bet. As the referrer, you will also receive a $25 bonus. There is nothing to stop you from benefiting from this offer more than once — keep referring, and as long as your friends make deposits and place wagers, you can continue to earn bonus funds.
When using your account to purchase past performances, including TVG Full PPs, TVG Basic PPs and TVG Watch and Wager PPs, simply wager at least $10 on the meeting in question, and you’ll be reimbursed the next day by 7 a.m., win or lose. The wide-ranging State Race Lens Day Pass requires wagers of $25 or more for that reimbursement to take place.
TVG does focus on video coverage, with its own television channels and live video streams, and as with BetAmerica, you can also use video replays to check out the form. Find global coverage from France, Hong Kong, India, Australia, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Sweden and more, with comprehensive coverage of all meetings on the domestic front.
While the first racetrack in Colorado didn’t open until 1950, the noble sport of horse racing was making headlines in the state way back in 1908.
This was due to the “Great Horse Race,” an incredible endurance contest over 500 miles that would start in Wyoming and end in Denver. While there were 25 horses entered into the race, all the talk was about two particular competitors — Sam (ridden by Dode Wykert) from Colorado and Teddy (ridden by Charles Workman) from Wyoming. While many of the horses would drop out, Sam and Teddy would make it all the way to Denver. Eventually, the contest was deemed a draw, as both horses were declared unfit for the final stage and would walk to the finish line, with the streets lined by thousands of people.
The event was the inspiration for the Oscar nominated movie “Bite the Bullet,” which starred Gene Hackman, James Coburn and Candice Bergen.
Pari-mutuel racing was finally legalized in Colorado in 1948. Centennial Park opened just a couple of years later, a track dubbed the “Santa Anita of the Rockies.” Ten thousand people crowded into the track on its Independence Day opening, wagering half a million dollars. While the opening day showed promise, it was a struggle for Centennial Park, as the amount wagered daily was $30,000 less than the Mile High dog track in the state.
Racing would take place at Centennial Park until 1983, when the land was sold to build an apartment, condo and office complex.
In 1965 Pikes Peak Meadows would open and run alongside Centennial Park, and for nine years it would be the only racetrack in the state after the demise of its rival.
The arrival of Arapahoe Park came in 1992, and, just a year later, Pikes Peaks Meadows would close and become a race car speedway. Arapahoe Park continues to this day.
At one time Colorado was a hotbed for dog racing, with the aforementioned Mile High track, joined by Cloverleaf, the Rocky Mountain Kennel Club and the Pueblo Kennel Club all along Interstate 25 until the sport was banished from the state in 2008.
Racing in Colorado has seen something of a mixed history. Aside from the drama of the “Great Horse Race” at the start of the last century, the sport has never really made headline news. However, with racing at Arapahoe Park during the summer months, the live action is appreciated by all racing fans. This includes plenty of fast-paced quarter horse races. Gamblers have the chance to place wagers all year round at one of the many off-track betting sites dotted around Colorado, while gambling online is also an option at the excellent BetAmerica and TVG sites.