The evolution of the horse race began in the seventeenth century. Originally, horses raced on circuits that were small and local, saving their energy for the major races, such as the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. In time, the horse race evolved to a national event that attracts the most wealthy horse lovers. But the sport was not without its challenges. Several factors have contributed to its modernization. Here are some of these developments.
The major types of horse races are handicapped. In a handicap race, weights are adjusted for each horse based on its age and gender. Two-year-old horses carry less weight than older horses. Horses are considered fully aged when they turn five. Other factors that determine the weight of a horse are sex allowances and individual performance history. Some races may have more than one type of horse. A thoroughbred horse race can be quite complex.
In 1888, Tasker, the owner of the racetrack, decided to enter Selima, a dark bay mare from France. The horse was shipped through Tunisia and Syria and then to France, where it was purchased by Edward Coke. From there, the stallion was shipped back to England to be bred. Francis Godolphin, the son of the lord treasurer of Queen Anne, had a stud farm near Newmarket.
In the United States, the Belmont Stakes is the oldest Triple Crown race. Three-year-old thoroughbreds can win the Belmont Stakes. It was founded by Leonard Jerome and funded by August Belmont Sr. Ruthless was the first horse to win the Belmont Stakes and was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 1975. But not all horses can win the Belmont Stakes.
The history of horse race betting follows the same pattern as that of sports betting. Wagers started small and focused on who would win. In the 19th century, private betting spread and bookmakers began offering better odds to bettors. In the 20th century, racetrack managements created pari-mutuel, a system where bettors share their funds with the racetrack management. In this system, the winner of a race is paid out twice.
Although Thoroughbreds were the first to win a race, their popularity did not last. In the 1940s, French horses with “tainted” American ancestry won top English races. However, the Jersey Act was repealed in 1949. There is no reason to believe that only horses from England and Ireland are eligible for the Derby. And if you think the Jersey Act does not apply to Thoroughbred racing, you should bet against them.
A similar story applies to Maryland’s history. The colonial ban on breeding horses in Maryland was a reason for many breeders to ship pregnant mares to Virginia and give birth to their foals there. This practice opened the way for competition between Virginia and Maryland. A few years later, the Maryland Gazette reported on the race and called it “great.”