Horse Racing An Ancient Sport That Flourishes Today

Tonalist, left, with Joel Rosario up edges out Commissioner with Javier Castellano up to win the 146th running of the Belmont Stakes horse race, Saturday, June 7, 2014, in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The majestic horse racing has enthralled human beings for thousands of years. Whether it’s the gentle giants’ grace and beauty or their ability to help humans get big jobs done – or both – humans and horses have gone hand-in-hand throughout history. In addition their more useful functions, horses have also been greatly appreciated for their ability to race. In fact, horse racing has been and remains a big attraction.

The roots of horse racing date back to about 4,500 BC when nomads from Central Asia first learned to domesticate the gentle beasts. Known for their grace, agility and speed, horses were naturals for use in competition. In the past, horse racing was a sport of kings and nobility. Knights and their noble steeds would race, training for battle and long-distance runs.

Nowadays, horse racing is a big business that centres on a lucrative industry that rakes in millions and millions of dollars through the placement of bets. Modern horse racing is one of the few forms of legalised gambling, and it’s one that’s enjoyed by people around the globe.

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Horse racing is such a big sport, in fact, that figures from the late 1980s show that more than 56 million people attended racing events and bet more than $9 billion on their favourites. The numbers have only climbed from there!

Thoroughbred horse racing is by far the most popular of the types of horse racing that involves wagering. But what are thoroughbreds and why are they so fun to watch and bet on?

Thoroughbreds are a special breed of horse that traces its ancestry back to specific horses. Thoroughbreds are primarily horses that have Arabian descent that has been bred specifically for the ability to carry weight while maintaining speed over extended distances. Sleek, beautiful and fast, thoroughbreds are born to run and run well. To be considered the competitive stock, thoroughbreds must maintain a strict pedigree, as well.

The tradition of horse racing in America and elsewhere runs deep, especially with the thoroughbreds. American thoroughbred horse racing has long been a popular sport with winning horses becoming household names. With four-legged heroes such as Citation, Secretariat and Seattle Slew to champion the way, the American sport of thoroughbred racing is well established and followed.

In America the big thoroughbred races centre around three particular events – the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. Horses that can win all three races in a single year are deemed “Triple Crown” winners and are celebrated in much the same manner as a Super Bowl-winning quarterback would be. Very few horses can pull off wins in all three arenas.

So, what is the draw of horse racing?

That answer depends on the spectator in question. But, for many, it’s the thrill of the race itself, rooting for a favourite horse and the chance to rake in big on bets. Some, however, simply enjoy watching the incredible spectacle of the beautiful and large animals race around the track with a level of grace a ballerina could only hope for. Whatever the draw, horse racing is a sport that runs deep in tradition and is loved by millions.

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