The Sport of Horse Racing
Horse racing, also known as “the sport of kings”, is one of the oldest sports still played today; tracing its roots all the way back to 4500 BC in ancient Egypt. When the sport made its way to the U.S. in the late 1800s, its popularity within the gambling industry began to boom. In 2008, horse racing generate a worldwide market worth of $115 billion thanks to gambling -- that’s a lot of dough!
How to Horse Race
There are actually two different types of horse races -- flat racing and jump racing. In flat racing, horses round a track without any obstacles inhibiting their lane. In jump racing, the horse will have to leap over hurdles spread throughout the track.
Regardless of the race type, horse racing really only requires two components -- the horse and the rider (or formally known as “jockeys”). Similar to racing a car, the jockey must be closely connected with their horse and know when to push it or when to lay off. The entire outcome of a race depends on the jockey’s ability to do this effectively, as they don’t want their horse to lose stamina before crossing the finish line.
Rules of Horse Racing
- Whether it’s a flat race or a jump race, every race starts with the horses and their jockeys in a steeple.
- There are really no limits to how many horses need to be on the track for a race. Some races have as few a four horse, some have as many as 25. It depends on the popularity of the race, media coverage, prize purse, and betting totals.
- The length of flat race tracks can differ greatly. In shorter races (known as sprints), tracks start at around 440 yards. In longer races (known as routes), these tracks can span the distance of two and a half miles!
- S. tracks are usually in the shape of an oval, whereas tracks in the U.K. could be in a figure eight. These tracks are either turf, dirt, or synthetic race-top.
- In jump racing, if a horse fails to clear a gate, than penalties may be assessed. Enough penalties, and the horse may be eliminated from contention.
- If a horse jumps the start early, it could be declared a false start. Penalties will be assessed and the horse could be disqualified.
- There are no ties in horse racing. If the race is too hard to decide with a naked eye, than it’ll go to a photo finish. If a photo finish is indecisive (a rare occurrence), than the race could go to dead heat rules -- which means the winnings will be contingent on the bookkeeper.
The three most major horse races every year are called the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. If a horse manages to win all three of these races in a season, it will accomplish a feat called the Triple Crown. Only 12 horses have ever won the Triple Crown.
Written by: Devin Pickell