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All descriptions below are from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Forms of Horse Racing

One of the principal forms of horse racing, which is popular in many parts of the world, is Thoroughbred racing. Harness racing is also popular in the eastern United States and more popular than thoroughbred racing in Canada and parts of Europe. Quarter horse and Arabian racing are also popular in the western United States and Florida.

The breeding, training and racing of horses in many countries is now a significant economic activity as, to a greater extent, is the gambling industry which is largely supported by it. Exceptional horses can win millions of dollars and make millions more by providing stud services, such as horse breeding.

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Horse Racing in North America

The style of racing, the distances and the type of events varies very much by the country in which the race is occurring, and many countries offer different types of horse races.

In the United States, races can occur on flat surfaces of either dirt, polytrack, or grass, generally Thoroughbred racing; other tracks offer Quarter Horse racing and harness racing, or combinations of these three types of racing. Racing with other breeds, such as Arabian horse racing, is found on a limited basis. American Thoroughbred races are run at a wide variety of distances, most commonly from 5 furlongs to 1½ miles (2414 m); with this in mind, breeders of Thoroughbred race horses are able to breed horses that excel at a particular distance (see Dosage Index).

The high point of US horse racing has traditionally been the Kentucky Derby which, together with the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes , form the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing for three-year-olds. However, in recent years the Breeders' Cup races, held at the end of the year, have been challenging the Triple Crown events, held early in the year, as determiners of the three-year-old Champion. The Breeders' Cup is held at a different track every year; the most recent edition (2006) was held at Churchill Downs. It also has an important effect on the selection of other annual Champions. The corresponding Standardbred event is the Breeders' Crown. There are also a Triple Crown of Harness Racing for Pacers and a Triple Crown of Harness Racing for Trotters .

American betting on horse racing is sanctioned and regulated by state governments, almost always through legalized parimutuel gambling. Thoroughbred horse racing in the United States has its own Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, New York. The Hall of Fame honors remarkable horses, jockeys, owners and trainers.

The most famous horse from Canada is generally considered to be Northern Dancer, who after winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness went on to become the most successful Thoroughbred sire of the 20th Century. The only challenger to his title of greatest Canadian horse would be his son Nijinsky II, who is the last horse to win the English Triple Crown, and was a better racehorse. Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, home of the Queen's Plate, Canada's premier Thoroughbred stakes race, and the North America Cup, Canada's premier Standardbred stakes race, is the only race track in North America which stages Thoroughbred and Standardbred (harness) meetings on the same day. The Pattison Canadian International has the largest purse of any Canadian horse race.

Quarter Horse racing is popular throughout the entire United States. Quarter Horses are faster than Thoroughbreds, but run shorter distances. While the average Thoroughbred race is roughly a mile, the average Quarter Horse race is about a quarter of a mile (hence the name of the breed). The classic distance of a Quarter Horse race is 440 yards, but races are run from anywhere between 100 and 870 yards.

American Quarter Horses are shorter and more muscular than their Thoroughbred cousins, and so are more suited to shorter, more explosive races. With the exception of the longer, 870-yard distance contests, Quarter Horse races are run flat out, with the horses running at top speed for the duration. There is less jockeying for position, as turns are rare, and many races end with several contestants grouped together at the wire.

Horse Racing in Australia

Racing in Australia has enjoyed great success with races such as the world famous Melbourne Cup, the so-called race that stops a nation , which has recently attracted many international entries. In Australia, the most famous horse was Phar Lap, who raced from 1928-1932 (though originally bred in New Zealand). In 2003-2005 Makybe Diva became the first and only horse to ever win the Melbourne Cup three times. In harness racing, Paleface Adios became a household name during the 1970s, while Cardigan Bay, a pacing horse from New Zealand , enjoyed great success at the highest levels of American harness racing in the 1960s.

Horse Racing in Europe


Ireland has a rich history of horse racing; point to pointing originated there and even today, jump racing (National Hunt racing) is marginally more popular than racing on the flat. As a result, every year Irish horse racing fans travel in huge numbers to the highlight event of the National Hunt calendar, the Cheltenham Festival, and in recent years Irish owned or bred horses have dominated the event. Ireland has a thriving thoroughbred breeding industry, stimulated by favourable tax treatment. The world's largest thoroughbred stud, Coolmore Stud, is there. Notable Irish trainers include Dermot Weld, John Oxx and Aidan O'Brien. Notable jockeys include Kieren Fallon, Michael Kinane, Johnny Murtagh , Ruby Walsh and Tony McCoy. The multiple Gold Cup winner Best Mate also hails from Ireland, while the great Red Rum was bred there, before moving across the Irish Sea to be trained. Arkle, rated the greatest steeplechaser of all time, was bred and trained in Ireland and became a national hero through his exploits. The legendary racemare Dawn Run was another famous Irish champion. Vincent O'Brien who trained horses at Ballydoyle in Tipperary, was one of the most successful trainers of all time, in both National Hunt racing and on the flat. Champion racehorses trained by Vincent O'Brien on the flat include Nijinsky II, Sir Ivor Ballymoss, Alleged, The Minstrel and El Gran Senor.


France has horse racing and British horses and jockeys travel to the races.


The Palio di Siena (known locally as Il Palio), the most famous palio in Italy, is a horse race held twice each year on July 2 and August 16 in Siena, in which the horse and rider represent one of the seventeen Contrade , or city wards. A magnificent pageant precedes the race, which attracts visitors and spectators from around the world.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, there are races which involve obstacles (either hurdles or fences) called National Hunt racing and those which are unobstructed races over a given distance (flat racing). The UK has provided many of the sport's greatest ever jockeys, most notably Gordon Richards. In the UK there are rules that stop the jockey using the whip too much, such as: they are not allowed to raise their whip over their shoulder. This stops them hitting the horse too hard.

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United Arab Emirates

The big race in the UAE is the Dubai World Cup, a race with a purse of six million dollars, making it the largest purse in the world. Within around two and a half years time Dubai will have a horse racing city named Meydan.

Hong Kong

The British tradition of horse racing left its mark as one of the most important entertainment and gambling institutions in Hong Kong. Established as the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club in 1884, the non-profit organisation conducts nearly 700 races every season at the two race tracks in Happy Valley and Sha Tin. The sport annually draws in over 11% of Hong Kong's tax revenue. Off-track betting is available from overseas bookmakers.


Japan conducts more than 21,000 horse races a year in one of three types: flat racing, jump racing (races over hurdles), and Ban-ei Racing (also called Draft Racing).

There are a total of thirty racetracks in Japan. Ten of these tracks are known as "central tracks", where most of Japan's top races are conducted. Races at these ten tracks are conducted by the Japan Racing Association (JRA), which operates under the oversight of the Japanese government. The remaining twenty tracks are operated by municipal racing authorities and run under the affiliation of the National Association of Racing (NAR). Two tracks, Sapporo Racecourse and Chukyo Racecourse, run separate meetings under either JRA or NAR jurisdiction.

The JRA purse structure is one of the richest in the world. As of 2007, a typical JRA maiden race for three year olds carries a purse of ¥9.55 million (about US$83,000), with ¥5 million (about US$43,000) paid to the winner. Purses for graded stakes races begin at around ¥75 million (about US$650,000).

Japan's top stakes races are run in the spring and fall. The country's most prominent race is the Grade 1 Japan Cup, a 2400m (1 1/2 mile) invitational grass race run every November at Tokyo Racecourse for a purse of ¥530 million (about US$4.6 million). Other noted stakes races include the February Stakes , Takamatsunomiya Kinen , Yasuda Kinen, Takarazuka Kinen , Arima Kinen , and the Emperor's Cup (Tenno Sho) races run in the spring and fall. The Satsuki Sho , Tokyo Yushun and Kikuka Sho comprise the Japanese Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing .

Japan's top jump race is the Nakayama Grand Jump , run every April at Nakayama Racecourse . Instead of running over a large course as is the case in other countries, the course for the 4250m (2 5/8 mile) Nakayama Grand Jump follows a twisted path on the inside portion of Nakayama's racing ovals. The race carries a purse of ¥170 million (about US$1.4 million).

The top jockey in Japan is Yutaka Take, who is a multiple champion in his homeland and regularly rides Japanese horses in stakes races around the world. Yutaka Take was the regular jockey for Deep Impact, Japan's two time Horse of the Year (2005-06).


Mongolian horse racing takes place during Mongolia's Independence Day.


In India, Bangalore Turf Club conducts races, which are famous along with Pune and Kolkotta. Vijay Mallya and MAM Ramaswamy , both Members of Parliament are famous horse owners, who have won record number of championships, both incidentally are industrialists

Recently, Bangalore came into news as the Government is mulling over to ban betting, which would eventually make horse racing economically unviable

In India, its not only Bangalore Turf Club which conducts races, also there are four more turf authorities who conduct racing viz. The Hyderabad Race Club,Hyderabad, The Royal Calcutta Turf Club, Kolkata, The Royal Western India Turf Club, Mumbai and the Madras Race Club, Chennai. Apart from these racing is also conducted in Delhi and mysore.

Of all the Hyderabad Race Club's racing is very popular amongst the locals here and is very competitive and Hyderabad Race Club has many firsts to its credit to popularise the thoroughbred horse racing in India.In the year 2008, the first saturday and sunday is the Hyderabad Race Clud's turn to host the Indian Turf Invitation Cup weekend racing carnival which is a most prestigeous event of the racing calendar in India.


While the attention of horse racing fans and the media is focused almost exclusively on the horse's performance on the racetrack, or for male horses possibly its success as a sire, little publicity is given to brood mares. Such is the case of La Troienne, one of the most important mares of the 20th century to whom many of the greatest thoroughbred champions, and dams of champions, can be traced.

In most flat horse races, not including steeplechases, the pedigree of the horse is one of the things that allow it to race: the horse must have a sire (father) and a dam (mother) who are purebred individuals of whatever breed is racing. For example, in a normal harness race, the horses sire and dam must both be pure Standardbreds.

A stallion who has won many races will usually be put up to stud when he is retired. This means that the owner of a mare can pay to breed his mare to that stallion. The more successful a stallion has been, the more expensive it is to breed the mare. An owner who is serious about racing will pay a great deal for a breeding to a successful stallion. Because stallions can breed many mares per season but a broodmare can only have one foal, an owner who has had a successful colt and keeps him as a breeding stud will probably make more money than an owner with a successful filly. However, the advent of embryo transfer technology--by means of which broodmares may have more than one offspring per season--might bring changes to the traditions of breeding.

Pedigrees of stallions can be seen at Weatherbys Stallion Book and pedigrees of recent Stakes race winners can be found on sites such as

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At many horse races, there is a gambling station, where gamblers can stake money on a horse. (Gambling on horses is prohibited at some tracks; the nationally renowned Colonial Cup Steeplechase in Camden, South Carolina , is known as one of the races which betting is illegal, because of a 1951 law in the state where betting on horse racing is illegal.) Where gambling is allowed, most tracks offer Parimutuel betting where gamblers' money is pooled and shared proportionally among the winners once a deduction is made from the pool. In some countries, such as UK, Ireland and Australia, an alternative and more popular facility is provided by Bookmakers who effectively make a market in odds. This allows the gambler to lock in odds on a horse at a particular time.

Types of Bets

The three most common ways to bet money are: bet to win, bet to place, and bet to show. Bet to win means that you stake money on the horse, and if it comes in first place, the bet is a winner. In bet to place, you are betting on your horse to finish either first or second and 'show' is first, second or third. Since it is much easier to select a horse to finish first, second or third than it is to select a horse just for first, the 'show' payoffs will be much lower on average than win payoffs. Betting 'show' is really playing it safe while win betting is a bit more risky, yet the rewards are better.

In Europe, betting to show is less commonplace since the number of "payout places" varies depending on the size of the field that takes part in the race. For example, in a race with seven or less runners in the UK, only the first two finishers would be considered winning bets with most bookmakers. Three places are paid for eight or more runners, whilst 16 runners or more will see the first four places being classed as "placed". Betting to place takes on a different meaning in Europe for this reason. In the US a place bet would only pay out if the horse in question finished first or second, whilst in the UK, a place bet would be deemed a winner based on the aforementioned criteria.

The term "Each Way" bet is used across the globe, but again has a different meaning depending on your location. An each way (or E/W) bet sees your total bet being split in two, with half being placed on the win, and half on the place. US bettors would only see a payout for a first or second place finish with this type of bet, whilst European and British bettors (or "punters") would receive a payout if the horse either wins, or is placed based on the place criteria as stated above. Most UK bookmakers cut the odds considerably for an each bet, offering the full odds if the horse wins but only a third, a quarter or a fifth of the odds if only the place section of the bet is successful.


There are many dangers in horse racing for both horse and jockey: a horse can stumble and fall, or fall when jumping an obstacle, exposing both jockey and horse to the danger of being trampled and injured.

In 1984, R.J. McCunney and P.K. Russo published a study entitled Brain Injuries in Boxing. The study demonstrated that the U.S. sport with the highest number of deaths per 100,000 participants was horse racing:

Fatality rates per 100,000 participants

  1. Horse racing: 128
  2. Sky diving: 123
  3. Hang gliding: 56
  4. Mountaineering: 51
  5. Scuba Diving: 11
  6. Motorcycle racing: 7
  7. College Football: 3
  8. Boxing: 1.3

The riding discipline information above is provided by Wikipedia. All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License. (See Copyrightsfor details.)

Horse Smarts does not endorse or confirm accuracy of any information listed on this page. It was provided by Wikipedia. Horse Smarts does not endorse sites listed in the horse breed pages, the Horse Classified listings or link pages.

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