• Gambling

    The History of Horse Racing

    Thousands of years ago, horse racing was a popular sport. Ancient cultures held races, including the Greek chariot races, and Bedouin endurance races in the Arabian desert. Many cultures across the globe held races. One of the earliest documented forms of horse racing was mounted bareback races.

    A typical New World race was a quarter-mile sprint between two horses. The winner would take the full purse. It is believed that the era’s typical handicapping weight was 140 pounds, including riding tack. It was also considered that the average speed rating for the last four races was the most important factor.

    Horses were often raced before their full maturity, so they were at risk of developmental disorders. In addition, racing at high speeds exposes the horses to the dangers of falls and other incidents. In the era, most jockeys were young male slaves.

    The first horse to cross the Atlantic was Selima. She was a bay mare with a white star on her forehead. She was at the peak of her racing prowess at age seven. Her victory was reported in the Annapolis Maryland Gazette. The race was called a “great race,” and the order of finish was listed. The race was considered a success by the stewards.

    Before the era of horse racing, wealthy country gentlemen rode their own horses. In the era, the best jockeys were usually put on the most prized horses. Those jockeys were also considered inconsequential.

    The era’s typical handicapping weight included the jockey and riding tack. It was also believed that the average amount of money earned per race was the most important variable. It was also believed that the weight of the horse was inconsequential.

    The first historical Thoroughbred horse race in the United States took place in 1752. William Byrd, owner of Tryal, imported the horse from Spain. Byrd had flamboyant urges and wanted to make a gambling score. He put up 500 Spanish pistoles, or money in Spanish currency, as a challenge to the other entrants. He was convinced that Selima could win.

    The Maryland and Virginia horse owners believed their racing to be superior. Both states had fought over various issues, such as the ownership of the Chesapeake Bay. Byrd’s decision to enter Selima into the race incited passions in Maryland and Virginia.

    The Maryland-Virginia rivalry was a major factor in the era’s development of horse racing. Byrd used Spanish currency to pay for his challenge, but he was able to circumvent the ban on breeding horses in Maryland.

    It was also thought that the average amount of money earned per race and lifetime win percentage were the most important variables. The cost of the cow and the cost of the jockey were also deemed inconsequential.

    The Annapolis Maryland Gazette reported the event as a “great race,” and the order in which the horses finished was also listed. The horse’s victory marked the beginning of the competition between Maryland and Virginia.