Horse racing is one of the oldest sports in the world. It is believed to have originated in Ancient Greece and Egypt, as well as Babylon. There are records from the Greek Olympics in 700 to 40 B.C. These events were considered to be the earliest documented horse races.
As the race developed, the sport spread to neighboring countries. By the late 1600s, organized racing was in existence in North America. The British occupied New Amsterdam in 1664, launching the beginning of the sport’s popularity in the United States.
Until the early 1800s, the governing body was the Jockey Club. Its members were owners of horses that were registered with the club. They also had the power to set rules. Some of the earliest known rules were based on the horses’ birthplace and their previous performance. Other rules were based on the riders’ qualifications.
After the Civil War, speed became a goal. In order to win, a racer needed to be in front of his or her opponent. This was done through the use of powerful anti-inflammatories and growth hormones. Races were also standardized to a maximum distance of two miles.
Horses were drenched in pinkish light. A jockey’s whip encouraged the racers to run with huge strides. If the jockey did not finish the race, the owner was liable to forfeit half of the purse.
Racing was banned in California in 1909. The purpose of the ban was not to promote horse welfare but to stamp out a criminal element. The ban was eventually lifted in 1933 with a ballot measure.
While the earliest races were match races, the horse race gradually evolved into an exciting spectacle with a large field of runners. The horses’ performance was often influenced by the horse’s jockey and their training.
Racing became more popular as it was promoted to the general public. The sport’s success began to be attributed to the ability of the Thoroughbred to run quickly and to maintain stamina. Although the sport has been around for centuries, technological advances have greatly impacted the way it is conducted.
Horse racing began to be broadcast throughout the country and across the globe. The American Triple Crown is an example of this. TVs were erected to broadcast the races from all over the country.
In 1897, the Jockey Club sought to eliminate what it termed “doping” in horse races. New drugs, such as blood doping and growth hormones, were added to the mix. However, testing capacities were inadequate to detect all of the new substances.
In recent years, the use of technology has changed the sport, most notably with the creation of thermal imaging cameras that allow stewards to detect whether a horse has overheated after the race. Other innovations include the use of 3D printing to create casts and prosthetics for injured horses.
Today, the most prestigious flat races are seen as tests of speed and stamina. There are three major types of these: the Belmont Stakes, the Preakness Stakes, and the Kentucky Derby.