SO FAR THIS YEAR...
This organization still regulates English racing to this day. The Jockey Club wrote rules of racing and sanctioned racecourses to conduct meetings. Standards defining the quality of races resulted in the designation of specific races as the ultimate tests of excellence.
Since , 5 races for 3 year old have been called "classics. There are two classic races open to fillies only: The Jockey Club also worked to regulate racehorse breeding. James Weatherby, whose family did accounting for members of the Jockey Club, was given the duty of tracing the pedigree of every racehorse in England. In , he published the results of his research as the Introduction to the General Stud Book. From to today, members of the Weatherby family have recorded the pedigree of every descendant of those racehorses in subsequent volumes of the General Stud Book.
By the early s, the only horses that were allowed to race were those who descended from the horses listed in the General Stud Book. There horses were called "Thoroughbreds". Every thoroughbreds can be traced back to one of three stallions, called the "foundation sires. British settlers brought horses and horse racing to America. The first racetrack was laid out on Long Island in Although the sport was a popular local sport for some time, organized racing did not exist until after the Civil War in when the American Stud Book was started.
For the next several decades, during the industrial expansion, gambling on racehorses, and horse racing itself, exploded. By , there were tracks operating across the United States. The rapid growth of horse racing without a governing authority led to the domination of many tracks by criminal elements.
In , the nation's biggest track and stable owners met in New York to form an American Jockey Club. This organization was modeled on the English and it soon ruled racing with an iron fist and eliminated much of the corruption.
In the early s, racing in the United States was almost wiped out by antigambling sentiment that led almost all states to ban bookmaking. By , only 25 tracks remained. That same year, pari-mutuel betting on the Kentucky Derby was introduced and it created a turnaround for the sport. Many state legislatures agreed to legalize pari-mutuel betting in exchange for a cut of the money wagered.
As a result, more tracks opened. By the end of World War I, prosperity and great horses like Man o' War brought spectators flocking to racetracks.
Horse racing flourished until World War II. The sport then lost popularity during the s and s. There was a resurgence in the s, triggered by the huge popularity of great horses such as Secretariat, Seattle Slew, and Affirmed.
However, during the late s to today, another significant decline occurred. This can be attributed to the fact that there has been a long drought without a Triple Crown winner. Thoroughbred tracks exist in about half the states. General public interest focuses on major Thoroughbred races such as the Triple Crown and the Breeder's Cup races which begun in State racing commissions have sole authority to license participants and grant racing dates, while sharing the appointment of racing officials and the supervision of racing rules with the Jockey Club.
The Jockey Club retains authority over the breeding of Thoroughbreds. Although science has been unable to come up with a proven breeding system to generate champions, breeders over the centuries have become increasingly successful in breeding Thoroughbreds who perform well at the racetrack by following two basic principles.
The first is that Thoroughbreds with superior racing ability are more likely to produce successful offspring. The second is that horses with certain pedigrees are more likely to pass along their racing genes to their offspring.
His articles for these races were the earliest national racing rules. The horses raced were six years old and carried pounds 76 kg , and the winner was the first to win two 4-mile 6. In France the first documented horse race was held in as the result of a wager between two noblemen. During the reign of Louis XIV — , racing based on gambling was prevalent. Louis XVI reigned —93 organized a jockey club and established rules of racing by royal decree that included requiring certificates of origin for horses and imposing extra weight on foreign horses.
Richard Nicolls , commander of the British troops, established organized racing in the colonies by laying out a 2-mile 3. From the beginning, and continuing until the Civil War, the hallmark of excellence for the American Thoroughbred was stamina, rather than speed. After the Civil War, speed became the goal and the British system the model. The earliest races were match races between two or at most three horses, the owners providing the purse, a simple wager.
Agreements were recorded by disinterested third parties, who came to be called keepers of the match book. One such keeper at Newmarket in England, John Cheny, began publishing An Historical List of All Horse-Matches Run , a consolidation of match books at various racing centres, and this work was continued annually with varying titles, until in James Weatherby established it as the Racing Calendar , which was continued thereafter by his family.
By the midth century the demand for more public racing had produced open events with larger fields of runners. Eligibility rules were developed based on the age, sex, birthplace, and previous performance of horses and the qualifications of riders.
Races were created in which owners were the riders gentlemen riders , in which the field was restricted geographically to a township or county, and in which only horses that had not won more than a certain amount were entered. Contemporary accounts identified riders in England called jockeys—if professional—from the second half of the 17th century and later in French racing , but their names were not at first officially recorded. Only the names of winning trainers and riders were at first recorded in the Racing Calendar , but by the late s all were named.
All horse racing on the flat except quarter-horse racing involves Thoroughbred horses. Thoroughbreds evolved from a mixture of Arab, Turk, and Barb horses with native English stock. Private studbooks had existed from the early 17th century, but they were not invariably reliable. After a few years of revision, it was updated annually.
The long-standing reciprocity among studbooks of various countries was broken in by the Jersey Act passed by the English Jockey Club, which disqualified many Thoroughbred horses bred outside England or Ireland. The purpose of the act was ostensibly to protect the British Thoroughbred from infusions of North American mainly U. Beginning in , five-year-olds carrying pounds Other racing for four-year-olds was well established by then, and a race for three-year-olds carrying pounds 51 kg in one 3-mile 4.
Heat racing for four-year-olds continued in the United States until the s. The beginning of the modern era of racing is generally considered to have been the inauguration of the English classic races: Leger in , the Oaks in , and the Derby in All were dashes for three-year-olds. During the 19th century, races of the English classic pattern—dashes for three-year-olds carrying level weights—spread all over the world.
Since the establishment of the British and American Triple Crown series, scores of countries have instituted their own less prestigious Triple Crowns of elite races. The Jockey Club of Britain , founded at Newmarket about , wrote its own rules of racing. The new rules originally applied only to Newmarket, but, when the rules were printed in the Racing Calendar , they served as a model for rules throughout Britain.
Its regulatory powers ended in when governance over British racing was transferred to the Horseracing Regulatory Authority. In power shifted to a new group, the British Horseracing Authority, which formed from a merger of the Horseracing Regulatory Authority and the British Horseracing Board. France Galop is the organization governing French horse racing.
The organization was created in from the merger of three horse racing authorities: In the United States the governance of racing resides in state commissions; track operation is private.
It maintains The American Stud Book. English racing spread to Australia , New Zealand , Canada, South Africa , and India in the 19th century, and many of their governing bodies emulated the British. Thousands of jockey clubs, both local and national, are today present around the world. Most of the national jockey clubs are members of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, whose annual conference in Paris reviews racing developments and discusses issues related to breeding, racing, and betting.
The conference is hosted by the Jockey Club de Paris. One major type of Thoroughbred horse race is the handicap race, in which the weights horses must carry during a race are adjusted in relation to their age the more immature the horse, the less weight it carries.
In this system, a two-year-old, the youngest racer, competes with less weight to carry than a horse that is three years or older. In general, a horse is reckoned as being fully aged at five years and is handicapped accordingly. There are also sex allowances for fillies, so that they carry slightly lower weights than males. Such handicaps may be set centrally where racing is so controlled or by individual tracks, the goal being to render all horses as nearly equal as possible by establishing what is called racing form.
The handicap race thus represents an outright repudiation of the classic concept that the best horse should win. Instead, handicaps are assigned with the specific objective of giving all the horses in a race an equal chance of winning.
Some handicap races are major sporting events. For instance, the Melbourne Cup , a handicap inaugurated in , is the most important race of the Southern Hemisphere. In the United States the Metropolitan, Brooklyn, and Suburban handicaps—all dating to the 19th century—were once the most valuable American events and remain reasonably comparable to the classics.
In the United States most of the purse money for the richest events offering purses in the millions of dollars is provided by the stakes fees of the owners. Purses were winner-take-all in the early days of racing, but, as the racing of fields of horses came to predominate, a second prize came to be offered.
Gradually, third and fourth prizes were added and occasionally fifth. On the average, modern-day purses are allocated about 60 percent to the winner, 20 percent to the second-place finisher, 12 percent to the third, 6 percent to the fourth, and 2 percent to the fifth-place finisher.
The same historical progression was followed for wagers, with the bets in early two-horse races being simply to win and modern bets being placed on the first three horses win, place, and show. From private bets, wagering was extended in the 19th century to bookmaking a bookmaker is a professional bet accepter who tries to set his odds so that a percentage is working in his favour. Later in that century, betting was taken over worldwide by the racetrack managements in the form of the pari-mutuel.
This is a common betting pool in which those who bet horses finishing in the first three places share the total amount bet minus a percentage for the management. The pari-mutuel was perfected with the introduction in the 20th century of the totalizator, a machine that mechanically records bets and can provide an almost instant reflection of betting in all pools. It displays the approximate odds to win on each horse and the total amount of wagering on each horse in each of various betting pools.
The customary pools are win, place, and show, and there are such specialty wagers as the daily double winners of the first two races , perfecta win and place winners in order in one race , quiniela as in the perfecta but not in order , and trifecta win, place, and show winners in order in one race. Other specialty wagers, sometimes offering extremely high payouts, require the bettor to select multiple trifectas, the winners of several races, or the first four horses in one race. As racing became big business, governments entered wagering with offtrack betting, which was very beneficial to racing in Australia, New Zealand, and France and less so in England and New York City.
In the United States, illegal bookmaking offtrack became the province of organized crime. A racehorse achieves peak ability at age five, but the classic age of three years and the escalating size of purses, breeding fees, and sale prices have led to fewer races held with horses beyond age four.
There are notable exceptions to this, however. Though artificial insemination and embryo transfer are possible and common in other horse breeds, it is banned with Thoroughbreds. The population of the breed is thereby controlled, assuring a high monetary value for the horses in the process.
Because each foal is assigned an official birth date of January 1, to facilitate the age groups that define Thoroughbred races, it is important that mares foal as early as possible in the calendar year. This assures maximum development time for the foal before training and racing. What breeders learned early in the history of horse racing is that crossing bloodlines can potentially overcome flaws in horses.
If, for example, one breed is known for stamina and another known for speed, interbreeding the two might result in a healthy mix of both qualities in their offspring. The ownership of racetracks ranges from complete state control, in which case the national government may own the tracks and horses and employ trainers, jockeys, grooms, and other necessary personnel, to complete private enterprise, as in most of the United States, where tracks are privately owned and operated for profit, as are the horses, and trainers and jockeys are independent contractors.
In-between conditions include government ownership of tracks and in some cases horses, which are leased, and nonprofit privately owned tracks, as in Australia and the New York Racing Association. Racetrack stands range from the elegant Longchamp in France, Ascot in England to the modest and purely functional Cologne, the Curragh in Ireland.
The same variety is true of the saddling area, the paddock. Most European and other racing surfaces are grass; in North and South America the common surface is dirt, though grass became increasingly popular in the 20th century. Synthetic racing surfaces, which routinely drain better than natural surfaces and cause fewer fatal injuries, were increasingly installed at racetracks during the 21st century.
Racing takes place mainly in the daytime. Older racetracks, mainly European, conform to natural terrain, accommodations for spectators having been added later. The course at Newmarket , for example, can accommodate a race of 2. Newer tracks are elliptical 1-mile- 1. The eligibility of racers is checked the day before they are raced. Before the race, jockeys weigh out and report to the paddock for instructions by trainers and mount up, the identity of the horses having been checked.
Horses are almost universally started from electrically operated starting gates, the horses being walked or led into their stalls prior to the start of the race. The starter actuates the upward swing of the barrier from the stalls when all are in place.
During the race, stewards and patrol judges are alert for racing violations, supplemented by a motion-picture patrol.