Whether you are a long-time horse racing fan or a first-timer, you may be surprised to learn that a lot of the rules of the game have stayed the same. In fact, some of the most important changes have been in the area of race safety.
A typical New World race would consist of a quarter-mile sprint between two horses. The winner took the entire purse. Aside from the obvious prize money, the average earnings per race was considered the most important factor. The average speed rating over the last four races was also a big deal.
Another fun tidbit about horse racing is that you can make a lot of money betting on a horse with a better chance of winning than the track. This is known as accumulator bets, and is a type of betting that is growing in popularity.
You can also bet on a horse’s chances of winning, such as the number of finishers. For example, if a horse has a 25% chance of winning, you can bet that it will be at odds of 4-1 or 7-2.
A horse’s chances of winning are also determined by handicapping the horse. A handicapper is a person who determines the horse’s ratings and weights. The era’s typical handicapping weight was 140 pounds. It also included the weight of the jockey and riding tack.
The earliest documented race was a mounted bareback race. It was held in Greek Olympic Games in 700 to 40 B.C. Afterwards, horse racing spread to North Africa, the Middle East and Europe. In the United States, horse racing began to be documented in Mount Airy, Maryland, in the early 1700s.
The Annapolis Maryland Gazette, a newspaper produced by the Maryland legislature, reported the most important event of the day: a horse race. The winner of the race, a bay mare named Selima, was the first preternatural talent to cross the Atlantic. At age seven, Selima was at the height of her racing prowess. She had a white star on her forehead. It was not surprising then that she won.
Another important tidbit about horse racing is the fact that the best jockeys of the time were young male slaves. This was a great way for breeders to produce faster horses and attract gawkers. The ostensibly best jockey was often placed on the best horse.
For more information on the aforementioned tidbits, you can read Francis Barnum Culver’s Blooded Horses of Colonial Days. You can also access free “On the Line” and “Feature Race Analysis” columns from a race analyst. You can also get an idea of the best bets on the horse racing scene by checking out the track’s percentages.
Aside from announcing the biggest horse-related event of the day, the Annapolis Gazette also provided a list of the order of finish for the event. It was also interesting that the most expensive horse in the race, a bulle Rock imported by Samuel Gist, was only 21 years old.