The basic concept behind horse racing has been in existence since the ancient times of Ben Hur and chariot races. However, it was not until the introduction of and breeding of Arabian horses that the more modern traditions of the sport began to develop.
The arrival of modern day horse racing to the United States took place in the 1600’s.
Since then, it has evolved into an intricate sporting event, relying heavily upon specific classifications, terminologies, and a large presence of the gambling industry. Regardless of category, all horse races typically undergo what is referred to in the industry as handicapping. Handicapping involves a set weight that is determined for each horse to carry in prospect of creating a fair competitive basis for the race.
Thoroughbred racing is the most popular category of horse racing. Other types include quarter races and harness racing. Quarter racehorses are typically known for traveling at a faster pace, but for a much shorter distance than thoroughbred horses. In addition to the various racing categories that exist, there are also subcategories of horse racing systems that pertain specifically to various rules and betting standards. Within the thoroughbred category there are four main types of races: maiden, claiming, allowance and stakes.
Maiden horse races are races that take place between horses that have never won a race. In contrast, an allowance race is one in which certain horses may be allowed to take off a certain amount of the designated handicap weight for that day. Generally, horses that participate in the allowance have not won in the past three months. As a result, horse racing results often dictate the types of races that occur.
A stakes horse race is one that requires the horse owners to pay various fees in order to compete. The most popular subcategory of thoroughbred racing is a claiming race. Claiming races make up about 70 percent of all horse races. This type of horse race requires buying a horse out of the race for its entered price.
Quarter horse racing is the other major racing category in the United States. These races are typically much shorter and faster than thoroughbred races. According to the American Quarter Horse Racing Association, the world record for the 220-yard race is 11.585 seconds set by a two-year-old female horse in 2004.
All of these types of horse racing foster the most popular aspect of live horse racing: betting. Betting on horse races is dependent primarily on horse racing results. Perhaps the most prominent live horse racing event that involves betting is the Kentucky Derby. The Kentucky Derby has taken place annually since 1874. In 1993 the event set a historical record for the largest combined pool at $1,609,390.
Horse racing systems depend on a type of betting called pari mutuel betting. This type of betting system pertains primarily to events in which the competitors finish in a ranked manor. Pari mutuel, or mutual betting, is a type of betting system in which bets of a particular type are placed into a pool together. The results determine the winning pool and the winning amount is split amongst the participants of that pool.
There are three main types of bets. A bet to win is a bet on a horse to finish in first place. A bet to place is a bet on a horse to finish in second place. And a bet to show is for a horse to finish in third place.
Horse racing systems also contain more intricate bets that adopt specific betting names. For example, an exacta bet is one where the bet is on two specific horses finishing in a one-two order.
Horse racing has established itself as an elaborate system both historically and monetarily. The various types of races and abundant amount of betting that go into the system has and will continue to further the expansion of horse racing.
American Quarter Horse Association. AQHA. 16 April 2007. 15 April 2007. http://racing.aqha.com/racing/dyn_content.aspx?FQD =http://www.aqha.com/aqharacing.com/leaders/worldr />Cummings, Clark G. The Language of Horse Racing. American Speech 79.3 (1997): 17-29.
Kentucky Derby 133. Churchill Downs Incorporated. 16 April 2007. 15 April 2007. http://www.kentuckyderby.com/2007/derby_history/de rby_timeline/1975_2000.html
Handicapping. TurfPedia: The Horse Racing Encyclopedia. 1995-2006. Information Superbrand, Inc. 12 April 2007. http://turfpedia.com/index.html