The Biggest Races in Horse Racing History
Horse races are a fascinating spectacle and an excellent way to see top-notch athletes in action. But they’re not just for entertainment—the sport has a long and rich history, with its roots in warhorses and even slavery. And although many people are familiar with flat-course horse racing, there is a plethora of other races to enjoy. If you’re interested in learning more about the sport, here are a few of its biggest races:
The Kentucky Derby is one of the world’s most famous and prestigious horse races. It is the first leg of the Triple Crown, a series of races that are deemed to be the most challenging for a horse to win. Located in Louisville, Kentucky, the race is a must-see for horse racing fans.
During the Civil War, organized horse racing was popular in the United States and fueled by sectional tensions, pitting horses from the North against those from the South. During this time, the hallmark of excellence for an American Thoroughbred was stamina. But by the end of the war, speed became the goal and the breed became more specialized.
While there are a few races that can be considered head-to-heads, a great showdown usually happens in the last few strides of a race. It’s in that final stretch that a horse’s performance is truly judged—as in the case of Crisp’s amazing front-running performance under heavy weight at the Grand National, where he is 20 lengths ahead of Red Rum as they reach the second-last fence. But then, fatigue takes over and Crisp is reeled in to lose by a neck.
Different national horse racing organizations may have differing rules for how a horse race should be run, but most of these are based on the British original rulebook. For example, if two or more horses finish so close together that it cannot be determined who won by the naked eye, then a photo finish is declared. In this case, a photograph of the finish is studied by a team of stewards to decide the winner.
While some races have fallen out of favor, the sport is trying to make changes that will draw in more people. This includes lowering minimum betting requirements and increasing the prize money on offer. It’s also working to promote the sport on television, where it has struggled to compete with major professional and collegiate team sports. It is hoped these efforts will revive the industry, which had seen a steady decline in interest after World War II. By 2004, only 1 to 2 percent of Americans listed horse racing as their favorite spectator sport. As a result, the sport has been losing ground to other forms of gambling and to online wagering sites. As a result, it is struggling to keep up with rising costs and falling revenues. This has led to a major shakeup of horse racing’s governing body. The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) recently replaced a triumvirate with a board of directors, in hopes of making the sport more transparent.