Top Ten Things You Must Know About the Horse Racing Industry

Are you a horse racing newbie? If you haven’t a clue about the sport, or where the Kentucky Derby is even held (here’s a clue, it’d held in Kentucky), then you have come to the right place to learn about some of the nuts and bolts of the industry that will have you well on your way to becoming a knowledgeable expert.

Fact 1:

Horseracing is an equestrian sport, which involves two or more jockeys racing their horses over a set distance in the name of competition. It is one of the oldest sports of all time, and the premise has remained unchanged over time- to determine which of the horses is the fastest.

Fact 2:

While the premise has remained unchanged over time, the format varies country to country. Many countries have developed their own horse racing traditions. Variations to a format could include restrictions on the races to a specific breed, including various obstacles on the track, running over different distances, on various different or running in different gaits.

Fact 3:

one_billion_dollarsWhile many people enjoy horse racing simply for sport, one of the reasons it remains extremely popular and of utmost economic importance is due to the gambling that is associated with it. It is reported that in 2008, horse racing was a worldwide market that was worth $115 billion dollars.

Fact 4:

Horse racing is documented as far back as 648 BC in the ancient Greek Olympics and was considered to be one of the pivotal events in other Pan-Hellenic games. Chariot and mounted horse races were popular in Greece, 41_thumb_714x340Babylon, Syria, and Egypt. Horseracing is an important part of mythology and legend.  One such example is the story of the contest between the “steeds of the God Odin and the giant Hrungnir” in Norse mythology.

Fact 5:

Thoroughbred racing has traditionally been and remains to this day popular with the aristocrats and the British Royalty. It has been dubbed the “Sport of Kings”.

Fact 6:

While there have been many variations in tradition over time, there ate four distinct type of horse racing. These types include flat racing; jump racing, harness racing and endurance racing. Flat racing is the type of race galloping_horses_02_hq_pictures_168955where horses gallop between two points on a straight or oval shaped track. Jump racing, which is also known as steeple chasing in the United Kingdom involves horses jumping over various obstacles on the track.  Harness racing involves the horses pulling their driver of jockey in a sulky.  Endurance racing is where horses travel over long or very extreme distances, which can range over a length of 25 to 100 miles.

Fact 7:

Flat racing is by far the most common type of horseracing seen in the world today. Most tracks are generally oval shaped and level, but in the Sea-the-Star-Prix-De-LArcUnited Kingdom, there is some variation in the track distinctions. A flat race is generally run over a distance of 400 meters up to two and a half miles.  Shorter races are generally called sprints while longer races are called routes. Some of the most prestigious flat races in the world include Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Japan Cup, Epsom Derby, Kentucky Derby, and the Dubai World Cup.

Fact 8:

Most horse races generally only admit a certain breed of horse. This means that most horses must have a mother and a father who were purebreds of the specific type of breed being admitted in to the race. Some types of horse breeds include Thoroughbreds, Arabian horses, and Quarter horses.

Fact 9:

The Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Kentucky is one of the most famous races in the United States. The race, which has been held for the past 141 years at the Churchill Downs racetrack, is a two-minute race with an immense amount of history and tradition. It is the only Triple Crown race that has run consecutively since it began.

Fact 10:

Betting is a huge component at most horse races. The most money ever wagered on the Kentucky Derby was $133.1 million dollars in 2012.

Growing up in Louisville, it was hard for me to escape all things horse racing. With a father who made it his yearly tradition to go out and bet on the Kentucky Derby and his weekly tradition to sip on some honey and bourbon, play the guitar and talk about all of the horse races happening throughout the year with his drinking buddies, I grew up with the talk of horse racing in my blood. This tradition and culture has followed me in to my thirties.