Horse racing is a sport with a history dating back to ancient times. It likely originated in the Middle East, but it also spread to North Africa and other countries in the continent. Today, it is a huge public entertainment business and has been impacted by advances in technology.
The first documented horse race was held in France in 1651. This was the result of a wager between two noblemen. As the horse race evolved, speed became the goal.
In the 1860s, heat races for four-year-olds continued. At the same time, a new breed of horse emerged – the Thoroughbred. After the Civil War, speed became a major factor in horse racing. During this period, offtrack betting was helpful for the racing industry in England, New Zealand, and Australia.
Before the 1860s, wealthy country gentlemen often rode their own horses. Jockeys were considered inconsequential. However, they were often put on the fastest and best-looking horses. Some of the earliest races were held at taverns or fairs.
Racing in Maryland and Virginia was particularly intense. Both states had battled over various issues, including the rights to the Chesapeake Bay. William Byrd had imported Tryal in 1752. Tasker had faith in Selima and accepted the challenge. He was also steady and sincere. But the decision to enter Selima in the race ignited passions in the state. A report from the Annapolis, Maryland Gazette referred to the race as a “great one.”
Handicapping, or handicapping, was the process of adjusting the weights of horses to give them an equal chance of winning. The typical handicapping weight of the era was 140 pounds. The jockey and riding tack were also included in the weight. There were other factors weighed in, such as the post position. Usually, the average speed rating of the last four races was the most important factor.
Early American Thoroughbreds were known for their stamina. During the Civil War, the fastest horse would win the prize money. With the rise of offtrack betting, the horse race was no longer restricted to private clubs. Many of the races were open to the public.
Handicapping rules for the 1860s were based on age, birthplace, and performance. The winner would receive the entire purse. Also, weight penalties were imposed for individual horses’ past performances.
The 1860s also saw the introduction of stakes races. These are grade 2 horse races, in which a single horse is awarded the largest purse for a top finish. Sometimes, sex allowances are provided for fillies.
The most prestigious horse race in the United States is the Kentucky Derby, also called the Triple Crown. Horses that finish first, second, and third each take a share of the prize money. Other American classic races include the Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes, and the Kentucky Oaks.
In the 1700s, Maryland and Virginia had their own horse races. Rich Strike passed prerace favorites Epicenter and Zandon. His victory was the beginning of competition between the two states.