The History of Horse Racing

A horse race is an event in which a group of horses is commanded to run around a track while humans ride on them. The winner takes the entire amount of money wagered by bettors, called a purse. The runners are typically thoroughbreds, which are specially bred for speed. The race is a popular form of gambling in the United States. It is also a major spectator sport. However, the multibillion-dollar industry is plagued with drug abuse, a lack of safety measures and corruption.

In the 19th century, American breeders began to develop fast thoroughbreds for cavalrymen and the Civil War. In the 1860s, horse racing expanded as open races, in which all owners could enter their horses, were introduced. The popularity of these events, in which the winning horse receives the entire purse, helped make horse racing a popular pastime.

The first open races were based on a simple rule: any owner who had won a certain number of races would be eligible to enter a race. As the number of races increased, the eligibility rules became more complex. These included age, sex, birthplace and previous performance. In addition, race organizers began to include stakes races, in which only the best horses were entered. The success of these new races encouraged the breeding of more horse, and by the end of the Civil War, most horses were thoroughbreds.

During the early days of the sport, horsemen who had not won a race were known as “jockeys.” They would train the horses and take them to the track. Jockeys were paid by the horse’s owner for their services. However, some trainers were not well-behaved and would use a whip on their mounts. Some trainers even abused their horses in order to win races. Despite the efforts of many to control the corruption and abuse, these practices continued.

In the past, horse races were regulated by state legislatures. In 1897, the Jockey Club, which is the governing body of horse racing in North America, campaigned to end these races, calling them “reprehensible.” In 1909, California banned wagering on horse races, again not to protect the horses but to stamp out the illegal gambling element.

In recent years, horse racing has lost its luster as a gambling activity. While horse racing continues to be a multibillion-dollar industry, the sport’s customer base is getting older and declining. In addition, scandals involving doping and racing fixation have turned some people away from the sport. In an attempt to boost its image, the industry has focused on improving safety. However, it is not enough to attract new fans. Serious reform is needed if the sport is to survive and thrive.

Categories: Gambling