The sport of Horse Racing goes back many centuries. Soon after man learned to domesticate the horse, it was realized that horses can be used as vehicles for racing competitions. Shortly thereafter, man would put up whatever was considered valuable at the time, as a means of compensation for choosing the losing horse.
Throughout the centuries, people have attended some form of competition that involved horses, from chariot racing to jumping tournaments; equestrian performance sports was becoming a huge market. The worth of horse racing across the globe has grown to be estimated at over $110 billion dollars. It is the gambling nature of horse racing that has spawned different types of racing and different methods of wagering.
There are four popular types of racing:
This race is the entry point for horses that want to make the big-times. The maiden race is for horses who have not won a race, hence the term “maiden”. It is usually, but not necessarily the race where a horse takes home its first purse. If a horse does not win a maiden race, the horse will most likely head for retirement. One of the most famous maiden horses in history was Zippy Chippy which earned over $30,000 in prizes, but never won a race in 100 starts.
Claiming races are not for the easy-to-be-queasy types. Programs list the sale prices of participating horses and claims to buy are made before post time. In other words, you commit to buy BEFORE the race and you own the horse after the race, win or lose. One of the most successful claimed horse was Furthest Land which was claimed by Ken Ramsey for $35,000 in October of 2008. Furthest Land went on to win 7 of 11 races and became the second horse to win a World Championship after just having been claimed.
Allowance races are for those horses with similar characteristics based on objective conditions. Some of these conditions usually include the weight of the horse, gender, age and resulted running time over a given distance. The jockey’s experience may also be a factor. Horses that fall short of some of these conditions are allowed to carry less weight. These horses are not for sale as in the claims races. Thoroughbred racehorse champion, Zenyatta, won a 1-1/16 mile allowance race by 3 and 1/2 lengths at Hollywood Park on December 15, 2007.
Stakes races are for the top competitors in the horse racing industry. High purses and instant fame are usually associated with the winners of stakes races. The term “handicap” is often referenced with stakes races and is used to define weight allowances as determined by the track’s racing secretary whose goal is to even the odds in an attempt to make for tighter competition which usually leads to higher revenue for all involved. Some of the most famous stakes horses are horses that have won the Triple Crown which consists of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. Among the list of these famous horses are the most recent, American Pharoah in 2015, Affirmed in 1978, Seattle Slew in 1977 and of course, Secretariat in 1973.
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