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Roots of Thoroughbred Horse Racing

April 19, 2018 0 Comment


The use of horses in racing goes back to primitive cultures.

Early Horse Racing History

Most sources agree that the earliest use of horses in racing was in Asia nearly three thousand years ago. In fact, many cultures employed the use of horses for agriculture and for armies and would have most likely found the speed and grace of horses useful in festivals and games, also

England’s Horse Racing History

The true equestrian spirit came alive during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Historians suggest that Knights returning from their wars in the Crusades brought with them Arabian horses which had already been bred for centuries. The English were astounded by the Arabians’ speed, beauty and agility. Many began breeding the Arabians with existing English horses to produce what they called their “thoroughbreds.” During the eighteenth century, the sport of horse racing, horse wagering and the practice of breeding had become so widespread that the country established the Jockey Club of England.

The Jockey Club was put in place to act as the foremost authority on all matters relating to thoroughbred racing in England. The Club was responsible for documenting horse pedigrees and designing the regulations for racing, along with establishing accepted breeding practices. Eventually they were able to document the pedigrees of nearly all the thoroughbred racing horses in England, at which point they produced their Stud Book. A true thoroughbred, the Jockey Club ruled, was a horse descended from one of three specific lineages, as documented in their Stud Book. These three lineages were all based on Arabian stock.

Horse Racing in America

Horse racing swiftly transferred to America with the English colonists. Many of the English traditions remained intact. Because Kentucky happened to be one of the more popular racing spots, the first Kentucky Derby race was run in 1875 from Churchill Downs race track, the same venue where this famous race is still hosted. Betting was popular, especially among the wealthy, until the turn of the century when all gambling became strictly prohibited.

The business of thoroughbred horse racing in America has come to be associated with pari mutuel betting. A number of states have popularly attended thoroughbred tracks. Handicapping has become the horse bettor’s science by which the horses’ stats and history are studied in order to place educated bets. The American Jockey Club is patterned after the Jockey Club of England. The Club is responsible for best breeding practices, rules of racing and documenting the pedigrees of American thoroughbreds.

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