The sport of racing horses extends back to the early domestication of horses by nomadic tribesmen in Central Asia. Since that time horse racing has taken place in a variety of settings and by a variety of people. In the modern day, horse racing is one of the few forms of gambling that is legal throughout most of the world, including the United States.
Horse racing is one of the most widely attended spectator sports in America. In 1989, over 50 million people attended 8,000 days of racing and wagered over $9 billion. This sport is also largely viewed in Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, the Middle East, South America and Australia.
In the United States, the most popular races comprise of Thoroughbred horses racing over flat courses between 3/4 of a mile and 1 1/4 miles. Quarter horses are also popular as well as harness racing.
Here are few interesting facts about the much celebrated sport which you might not be aware of:
- Chariot races run in ancient Rome are the earliest known example of organised horse races. However, it’s likely that horses were raced as long ago as 4,500 BC in Central Asia.
- A punter betting on every race in a typical nine-race meeting will have to review approximately 24,000 pieces of information to review the record for each participating runner.
- The lowest weight recorded so far for a jockey is 49 pounds.
- The average racehorse weighs around 1,000 pounds.
- Over $100 billion (about £72 billion) is bet on horses every year.
- Successful stallions can earn their owners more money in stud than on the racecourse.
- Thoroughbred horses are bred for speed, agility and determination. They trace their ancestry to Arabian horses bred with horses from England.
- Thoroughbred horses are almost double the size of the Arabian racehorses raced over a thousand years ago.
- Quarterbred horses are an American breed, bred specifically for quarter-mile races. These horses are shorter and more muscular than thoroughbred horses.
- Standard bred horses are used specifically for harness racing. They’re adept at racing at a trot rather than at a gallop.
- The term “big hearted” has a physiological basis in horse racing – horses with large hearts have a distinct edge over horses with average-sized hearts.
- The high casualty rate for horses in American horse races is due in large part to the legal use of performance-enhancing drugs.
- The slowest recorded time for winning a race was achieved in 1945, when Never Mind II finished a two-mile race in 11 minutes and 28 seconds. Never Mind II refused at a fence and was abandoned by his jockey, only for the jockey to hear that all the other runners in the race had fallen or been disqualified. The jockey returned to Never Mind II and finished the race at leisure.
- Jockey Alfred Johnson once lost 14 pounds in one day to reach the required weight for a race.
- One of the United States’ most famous jockeys, Eddie Arcaro, rode 250 losers before winning his first race. Arcaro went on to win another 4,778 races during his career. This included each of the races making up the American Triple Crown.
- The 1908 Grand National Steeplechase was won by a three-year old plow horse.
- Jockey Levi Barlingume raced competitively until the age of 80. He participated in his last race in 1932.
- Tango Duke set the record for thoroughbred longevity in 1978, when he died at the age of 42.
- The 1921 Epsom Derby winner, Humorist, had only one lung.
- No horse over the age of 18 has won a race in any format in the recorded history of horse racing. The last 18-year-old to win a race was steeplechaser Sonny Somers in 1980.
Source: Bet HQ