Historically, horse races have taken place in numerous cultures around the world. Among the earliest documented races are the Greek chariot races and the Bedouin endurance races in the Arabian desert. The first recorded race in France was held in 1651. It resulted from a wager between two noblemen.
Horse racing in the United States dates back to the late 18th century. Organized racing began in North America with the British occupation of New Amsterdam in 1664. The early races were match races, in which horses raced against each other. After the Civil War, speed became a goal. Open events with larger fields of runners were developed. The fourth prize was added as racing of fields of horses became more popular.
Today, horse racing can be found in many countries across the world. There are several classic races, including the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes in the United States, and the Melbourne Cup and the Santa Anita Handicap in Australia. These races are among the most popular in the world. Some of the highest-profile races are also held in other countries, including the Dubai World Cup in the United Arab Emirates and the Gran Premio Internacional Carlos Pellegrini in Argentina.
The American Triple Crown, a series of races, is also considered one of the most lucrative events in horse racing. The prize money for this series of races is estimated to be as high as $21 million in 2008. It is held at several popular racetracks around the United States.
The Preakness Stakes is a classic American race held each year in Baltimore. The race is open to thoroughbreds, and many of the horses are familiar to American racing fans. In addition to the Belmont Stakes, the Preakness Stakes is one of the most famous horse races in the world.
The Breeders’ Cup is an annual series of horse races held in the United States. It is one of the richest two days of sports in the country. In 2008, the prize money for the Breeders’ Cup was $21 million. The prize money for the event is funded by the stakes fees of the owners of the horses.
The French horse race is administered by France Galop. In 1995, three horse racing authorities merged and created France Galop.
In the United States, the (North American) Jockey Club once exercised a great deal of control over racing in the country. It is now managed by state commissions. The goal of handicapping is to make all horses equal. Horses are assigned handicaps according to age, performance, and sex. These handicaps give all horses an equal chance of winning the race.
Many horse races include jumps. A few race meets use timber fences. These fences are wooden post and rail obstacles. Other race meets use natural brush fences. Cracked leg bones are common in racing. In many cases, the horses must train for the jumps before the race.
In the United States, racing is organized through the state commissions. The richest events are funded by the stakes fees of the owners.