Sport Of Kings Horse Racing

.. structions from the trainer. Trainers deliberate with jockeys before a race to give instructions and plan a strategy. Is the horse a front-runner or a does it like to come from behind” Does it “bear in” or “drift out” from the rail? Another important question, would be which are the speed horses? After the race and weigh in is completed the jockeys run off to shower in the jocks room. They switch silks and repeat the process on another entry.

They may ride for a particular owner or accept whatever mounts trainers offer. Jockeys are paid a fee for each horse they ride as well as a percentage of the purses their mounts win. Racing is a very carefully supervised sport. The managing body of British racing is the Jockey Club of Great Britain. The Jockey Club through its office in Lexington, Kentucky, handles the registration of all North American Thoroughbreds.

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The Thoroughbred Racing Associations and the Racing Commissioners International are important racing bodies. In addition to Jockey Club registration procedures, racetrack officials identify each horse before every race and conduct tests to detect the presence of medication or drugs that might affect the race’s outcome. Videotape records of the race’s progress, while a high-speed camera at the finish line determines close outcomes. Stewards representing the Jockey Club and the state racing commissions can disqualify horses and penalize jockeys for such infractions as interference and dangerous riding. Horse racing is the second most widely attended U.S.

spectator sport, after baseball. “In 1997, 56,194,565 people attended 8,004 days of racing, wagering $9.14 billion” (YouBet.com). Betting is an important element in the popularity of horse racing. At different times “four main types of betting have been popular: simple betting between individuals; sweepstakes betting, in which large entry fees are pooled and awarded to the winners; bookmaking, in which speculators offer odds against each horse and accept bets against their predictions; and pari-mutual betting, which is the most widespread system used at the major American tracks” (Betmaker.com). The designation pari-mutuel is a French phrase translated as “betting among ourselves.” Under the pari-mutual system, which was developed in France during the 1860s, the betting odds on a given horse are derived from a comparison between the total amount wagered on the horse and the total wagered on all the horses in the race.

The odds are automatically computed by a device called a totalizator, which posts them on a lighted tote board clearly visible to spectators (Betmaker.com). Odds are recomputed at approximately one-minute intervals until post time, when all bets must be placed and the pari-mutuel machines are locked. Winning tickets are cashed after the race’s results have been declared official, by which time computers have determined the payoffs. Pari-mutuel bettors can wager that a horse will win (finish first), place (finish first or second), or show (finish first, second, or third). In the event that two or more horses are entered by the same owner or trainer, they are coupled in the wagering as an entry.

In this situation a bet on one of these horses is a bet on all of them. Exotic wagering involves more than one horse. Such combinations include the daily double, in which the bettor must predict the winners of two consecutive races, usually the first two and last two races of the day. An extreme variation of the daily double is the pick 3 or pick 6. In which bettors must select the winners of 3 or 6 consecutive races.

In cases that no one selected all 6 winners a consolation pay out for five winners is distributed and a carryover is left for the next day of racing. To win a quinella or exacta box, the bettor must predict the first two finishers in a single race without regard to the order in which they finish. To win an exacta, the bettor must specify the exact order in which the first two horses in a race will finish. Such involved wagering almost always yields higher payoffs than typical win-place-show wagers. Off-track betting (OTB) is growing in popularity throughout the United States. OTB facilities offer an alternative to wagering at racetracks.

Bettors can place wagers and watch the races via satellite broadcast. The OTB facilities are primarily placed in areas where race tracks are few and far between. Simulcasting, in which live races are televised at various racetracks around the country via satellite, is becoming very important in U.S. racing. It allows bettors to wager on stakes-quality horses, since simulcasts generally are reserved for the best races available.

An example, bettors can wager on the Kentucky Derby around the world through simulcasting, not just at Churchill Downs. At many U.S. racetracks, whole cards of races from other locations are simulcast, both when the racetrack is also running live racing and when there is no live racing scheduled. Some tracks simulcast the races from up to eight different racetracks at the same time. “Beginning in the 1970s, off track betting and simulcasting became increasingly prevalent in the United States.

By 1993 wagering via simulcasting accounted for more than 40 percent of all wagering conducted at racetracks in the United States” (Betmaker.com). The Kentucky Derby and the Breeders’ Cup are the two most popular races and are offered through simulcasting. The Kentucky Derby stands as the oldest, consecutively held Thoroughbred race in America. The first Kentucky Derby was held May 17, 1875, as a crowd estimated at 10,000 from around the city, state and surrounding areas converged on the Jockey Club grounds. A field of 15 three-year-olds went postward for the 1 1/2 mile contest which was won by H.P.

McGrath’s Aristides, trained by Ansel Williamson and ridden by the popular African-American rider, Oliver Lewis (Martin,124) Of that day’s 15 jockeys, 14 were African-American. Although the first Derby was held at 1 1/2 miles, the distance was changed to the current 1 1/4 miles in 1896. “In 1945, a wartime ban on racing threatened to cancel the Derby. Following VE day, a government announcement on May 8 lifted the ban and the 71st Derby was held June 9 that year” (Martin, 126). The Breeders’ Cup started in 1984.

It incorporates seven championship races in one action packed day. It is known through the racing community as Thoroughbred racing’s “Super Bowl.” It is held at varioius racetracks around the country each fall, the Breeders’ Cup brings together racings finest horses to compete for more than 10 million dollars in purses. The Breeders’ Cup is often the determining factor in divisional championships and the Horse of the Year. The Breeders’ Cup consists of eight races based on various distance, sex and age restrictions. The two million dollar Breeders’ Cup Distaff is race for three year olds and up, fillies and mares, racing a mile and an eighth. There are two juvenile races one for fillies and for colts or geldings. The distance for both races is one mile and a sixteenth.

The purses on the Juvenile races are one million dollars each. The Mile is for all horses three years old and up, racing one mile on the turf for one million dollars. The Sprint is six furlongs for all horses three year olds and up for one million dollars. The Turf is the longest of the races and is open for all three year olds and up. It is a mile and one half on the turf for two million dollars. The biggest purse belongs to the most prestigious race of the Breeders’ Cup, the Classic.

Three year olds and up run one mile and a quarter for four million dollars. Of the seven Breeders’ Cup races, the one most eagerly watched with an eye towards the future is the Juvenile (G1). Amazingly enough, however, the results of the Juvenile are as good an indicator of who not to bet in the next year’s classics rather than who to bet. In an era where having the Kentucky Derby favorite is a certain way not to win the Run for the Roses, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile has become infamous for the failure of its winners to go on to greater things at three. Ironically, the first running of the Juvenile in 1984 was as good a form guide as any race for the `85 classics.

While winner Chief’s Crown failed as the favorite in all three Triple Crown races (second in the Preakness Stakes [G1], third in the Kentucky Derby [G1] and Belmont Stakes [G1]), runner-up Tank’s Prospect won the Preakness and third-place finisher Spend a Buck went on to win the Kentucky Derby and Horse of the Year honors in 1985. The first Juvenile, the first race run in Breeders’ Cup history, seemed to establish the race as a precursor for classic success the following year. However after the successful first year the Juvenile winners had a tough time in the Triple Crown Classic races. The 1985 winner, Tasso, did not compete in the Triple Crown the next year, nor did any of the other entries that year have a significant impact on the classics. The 1986 Juvenile proved to be the most star-studded of Breeders’ Cup history, with Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Alysheba finishing third, Belmont winner Bet Twice fourth, and major stakes winners Gulch, Demons Begone and Polish Navy filling the spots immediately behind that duo.

In a premonition sign for Juvenile winners, however, 1986 winner Capote failed to train on and was 0-for-6 as a three-year-old. A pattern had been set in the Juvenile, as one winner after another failed to make an impression on the classics the next year. Success Express, like Capote trained by D. Wayne Lukas, won the `87 Juvenile. And, like Capote, he never won another race, going 0-for-9 at three.

D. Wayne Lukas was back again in 1988, playing the spoiler’s role this time as Is It True upset 3-to-10 favorite Easy Goer over a muddy track at Churchill Downs. Easy Goer would show his distaste for the Churchill mud the next year in losing the Kentucky Derby to Sunday Silence, while Is It True would miss the classics in `89. Rhythm continued the pattern in 1989, winning the Juvenile, then skipping the `90 classics, though he did win the Travers Stakes (G1) later that year. Fly So Free, the `90 winner, was still around for the Derby the next year, but finished off-the-board. In 1991, Arazi put on one of the most dazzling shows in Breeders’ Cup history, flying in from France with a lofty reputation and living up to it, romping home a five-length winner over Bertrando.

Seven months later, however, Arazi would finish eighth as the odds-on choice in the Derby as the Juvenile curse struck down another Juvenile-winning champion. Consistency has been the hallmark of the Juvenile curse, as Gilded Time (1992) missed the Triple Crown with injury and Brocco (`93) won just once more after the Juvenile. The Juvenile finally produced a winner capable of classic success in 1994, when Timber Country took the Juvenile, then went on to win the Preakness. But as an ugly reminder of how potent the curse is, illness and injury struck down the son of Woodman, who never ran again after the Preakness. Unbridled’s Song appeared a superhorse in the making when he won the 1995 renewal.

But a broken bone ruined his Kentucky Derby chances and he finished fifth. The curse appeared stronger than ever following the 1996 running. Boston Harbor led all the way to win that year’s Juvenile, but only raced once more as a fracture in his leg ended his career. The 1997 renewal featured Horse of the Year-to be Favorite Trick, who capped an 8-for-8 two-year-old season with a 5 1/2-length triumph over Dawson’s Legacy. The 1999 race was won by Anees a colt by Unbridled. Anees is the second foal by Unbridled to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Breeders Cup Limited Online).

Can Anees go on to win the Kentucky Derby next May? Only time will tell. The excitement from watching a horse in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile advance forward towards the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown may entice fans to follow the sport. Winning on a two dollar win wager may excite fans and encourage more outings to the local racetrack. Fans may be interested in watching jockeys time and manipulate the horses to time their charge for the finish line. With so many variables the precise reason for the success of horse racing is hard to determine.

Fans have supported the sport for centuries and all signs point to a bright future into the new millenium. Sports and Games.