Horse racing is one of the oldest forms of entertainment. Over time it has evolved from simple competitions of speed or stamina between two horses into an entertainment spectacle with vast fields of runners and sophisticated electronic monitoring equipment – but its core feature has remained: the horse that crosses the finish line first wins!
Horse races take place globally every day on dirt tracks and grass courses, drawing an estimated daily attendance of 80,000 partygoers to enjoy the excitement of watching thundering hooves barrel down the stretch. While not prestigious enough for Grade or Group 1 status, these races still spark considerable enthusiasm among fans and bettors alike.
Early horse races were match races, where two or more horses ran against one another and the winner was determined by who won the most bets. When one horse lost, its owner forfeited half (later all) of its purse to compensate the keeper of the match book who then published results of each race.
As horse racing evolved, its rules became more formalized with age-, sex- and distance eligibility criteria governing eligibility to race horses. Soon enough, organized races were being organized across England, America and Europe as race records were being broken and new records set.
By the 18th century, racing had begun shifting away from being solely concerned with speed competition to more traditional British methods that focused on stamina competitions – this trend continued up until Civil War times when speed once more became an important criteria for competitions.
Thoroughbred flat racing has gained worldwide prominence and there are now more than 300 Thoroughbred flat racetracks worldwide. While Thoroughbred flat racing remains the main focus, other forms of horse racing such as harness and quarter horse events also exist.
Bettors on horse races often bet to win, place and show. Bets to win involve placing their selection in first position while bets to place and show seek to place it among the top three finishers or fourth or fifth places respectively.
Famous horse races include the Grand National, Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic – each boasting its own history and traditions. Feeling the earth shake beneath you when mass hooves thunder down the stretch is something everyone must experience first-hand!