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Introduction

Horse racing at Golden Gate Fields, 2017

Horse racing is an equestrian performance sport, typically involving two or more horses ridden by jockeys (or sometimes driven without riders) over a set distance for competition. It is one of the most ancient of all sports, as its basic premise – to identify which of two or more horses is the fastest over a set course or distance – has been unchanged since at least classical antiquity.

Horse races vary widely in format and many countries have developed their own particular traditions around the sport. Variations include restricting races to particular breeds, running over obstacles, running over different distances, running on different track surfaces and running in different gaits.

Selected article

A purebred Arabian stallion
The Arabian or Arab horse is a breed of horse that originated on the Arabian Peninsula. With a distinctive head shape and high tail carriage, the Arabian is one of the most easily recognizable horse breeds in the world. It is also one of the oldest breeds, with archaeological evidence of horses that resemble modern Arabians dating back 4,500 years. Throughout history, Arabian horses spread around the world by both war and trade, used to improve other breeds by adding speed, refinement, endurance, and strong bone. Today, Arabian bloodlines are found in almost every modern breed of riding horse.

The Arabian developed in a desert climate and was prized by the nomadic Bedouin people, often being brought inside the family tent for shelter and protection from theft. Selective breeding for traits including an ability to form a cooperative relationship with humans created a horse breed that is good-natured, quick to learn, and willing to please. The Arabian also developed the high spirit and alertness needed in a horse used for raiding and war. This combination of willingness and sensitivity requires modern Arabian horse owners to handle their horses with competence and respect.

Selected biography

Seabiscuit on workout with George Wolf
Seabiscuit (May 23, 1933—May 17, 1947) was a champion Thoroughbred racehorse in the United States. From an inauspicious start, Seabiscuit became an unlikely champion and a symbol of hope to many Americans during the Great Depression. Seabiscuit became the subject of a 1949 film, The Story of Seabiscuit; a 2001 book, Seabiscuit: An American Legend; and a 2003 film, Seabiscuit, which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Seabiscuit was foaled on May 23, 1933, from the mare Swing On and sired by Hard Tack, a son of Man o' War. Seabiscuit was named for his father, as hardtack or "sea biscuit" is the name for a type of cracker eaten by sailors. At Santa Anita Park, a life-sized bronze statue of Seabiscuit is on display. In 1958, he was voted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, and the Blood-Horse magazine ranking of the top 100 U.S. thoroughbred champions of the 20th Century, Seabiscuit was ranked twenty-fifth. War Admiral was thirteenth, and Seabiscuit's grandsire and War Admiral's sire, Man o' War, placed first.

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Did you know...

  • ... that thoroughbred horse Lord Avie, bought for $37,000 in 1980, was put to stud after retiring in 1981 and by 2002 had sired 578 starters, including 429 individual winners with total earnings of $35 million?

Goldsmith Maid pulling a sulky

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Selected race track

Flemington Race Course, Melbourne, Australia

Flemington Racecourse is a major horse racing venue located in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. It is most notable for hosting the Melbourne Cup, which is Australia's richest horse race. The racecourse is situated on low alluvial flats, next to the Maribyrnong River, first used for horse racing in 1840.

The Flemington Racecourse site comprises 1.27 square kilometres of Crown land. The course was originally leased to the Victoria Turf Club in 1848, which merged with the Victoria Jockey Club in 1864 to form the Victoria Racing Club. The first Melbourne Cup was run in 1861. In 1871 the Victoria Racing Club Act was passed, giving the VRC legal control over Flemington Racecourse. The racecourse is shaped not unlike a pear, and boasts a six-furlong (1,200 m) straight known as 'the Straight Six.' The track has a circumference of 2,312 metres and a final straight of 450 metres for race distances over 1,200 metres.

Selected race

The 1976 cup won by Van Der Hum
The Melbourne Cup is Australia's major Thoroughbred horse race. Billed as The race that stops a nation, it is a race for three-year-olds and over, over a distance of 3,200 metres. It is the richest and most prestigious "two-mile" handicap in the world, and one of the richest turf races in the world. The event is held at around 3 pm on the first Tuesday in November by the Victoria Racing Club, on the Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne.

The race has been held since 1861 (see list of Melbourne Cup winners) and was originally held over two miles (about 3,218 metres) but following preparation for Australia's adoption of the metric system in the 1970s, the current race distance of 3,200 metres was established in 1972. This reduced the distance by 18.688 metres (61.31 ft), and Rain Lover's 1968 race record of 3min.19.1sec was accordingly adjusted to 3min.17.9sec. The present record holder is the 1990 winner Kingston Rule with a time of 3min 16.3sec. The world record of 3:13.4 over 3,200 metres is held by Japanese horse Deep Impact.

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History HorseEvolution of the horseDomestication of the horseDarley ArabianGodolphin ArabianByerley Turk
Governing bodies Australian Racing BoardBritish Horseracing AuthorityFrance GalopHong Kong Jockey ClubHorse Racing IrelandInternational Cataloguing Standards CommitteeJapan Racing AssociationJockey Club of CanadaMacau Jockey ClubNational Association of RacingNational Steeplechase AssociationThe Jockey ClubWeatherbys
Terminology Glossary of Australian and New Zealand puntingBackstretchBlindersChute (racecourse)FurlongGoingHandicappingHorse lengthPhoto finishPurse distributionRacecardRing bitStarting barrierStarting gateStirrup
Types of racing Chariot racingEndurance ridingFlat racingHarness racingHurdling (horse race)SteeplechaseThoroughbredQuarter Horse
Race classes Claiming race Conditions racesGraded stakes raceGroup racesHandicap raceHurdling (horse race)Maiden race horseWeight for Age
Professions BookmakerGroomHorse trainerJockeyOdds compilerRace callerStud MasterStrapper
Awards Cartier Racing AwardEclipse AwardJRA AwardLester AwardScobie Breasley MedalSovereign Award
Breeding Breed registryEquine anatomyEquine conformationFoalHorse breedingHorse careInbreedingLive foal guaranteeMareStallionStud farmStud feeThoroughbred breeding theories
Graded races AustraliaBarbadosCanadaFranceGermanyGreat BritainGreat Britain (NH)IrelandIreland (NH)ItalyPeruSingaporeUnited States
Hall of Fame inductees AustraliaCanadaJapanNew ZealandUnited States
Wagering Arbitrage bettingBetting exchangeBookmakingParimutuel betting

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