Understanding Horse Racing: A Quick Guide

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Horse racing is one of the most intensive sports out there, although it can be difficult to fully understand at a glance. From the interesting traditions and rituals for good luck, to the role of betting and race horses that have made headlines, this is a quick guide to horse racing.

Consider the cultural impact of each event, and take part in the age-old tradition of betting at the races with TVG.com.


Firstly, it is worth looking into how this immense sport became such a significant part of modern sports. There is certainly a unique bond that exists between humans and horses, which has allowed them to be of great use to generations.

From war horses to helping with transportation and logistics, horses have played a key role within many eras of history. While it is believed that Nomadic Tribesmen were first recorded racing horses at around 4500 BC, some Ancient Greeks were seen riding horses for racing purposes in the Olympic Games.

These date back to around 700 to 40 BCE. Using horses to provide entertainment and to explore the potential of these powerful creatures was something that the Roman Empire did well. Considering how much has changed since then, horse racing continues to be one of the most intense cultural activities around the world.

Significant Events

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Of course, there are certain events within the horse racing calendar that are widely believed to play a more prominent role than others. Consider the odds that come into play, and the estimated timeframe between each event.

Some of the most significant horse racing events include those of the Triple Crown. This consists of three separate events which are held annually; the Preakness Stakes, the Kentucky Derby, and the Belmont Stakes.

At these, some of the highest achieving thoroughbreds have a chance to prove themselves as Triple Crown winners. There have been numerous attempts at record breaks, and some have been incredibly successful.

In order to become a Triple Crown winner, thoroughbreds need to win each of the three events in a single year. This can be incredibly challenging for the horse and jockey, because they occur within a few months of each other.

Race Horses

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Thanks to the many years of considerate breeding that has taken place within the horse racing world, there have been several generations of high achieving thoroughbreds. Some of these have made history, by setting speed records that still stand today for particular events.

One of the most high achieving thoroughbreds is Secretariat, who became a Triple Crown winner in 1973. Not only that, but the chestnut champion set speed records in all three races!

Completing the race around the track at the Belmont Stakes, Secretariat completed the event in a record time of 2:24.00. This has still not been reached or beaten by any other thoroughbred.

Other thoroughbreds who have made headlines during the peak of their career include Affirmed, who was the last Triple Crown winner for 37 years. This was before American Pharaoh became the next thoroughbred winner in 2015.

Seattle Slew is another thoroughbred racer who maintained an impressive reputation. He was undefeated when he won the Triple Crown, making him just the second thoroughbred to gain this achievement.

Likewise, Citation made records as one of the first thoroughbred racers to exceed $1 million in total earnings.

The Role Of Jockeys

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It is a common misconception that jockeys play a small role in horse racing. They need to guide the thoroughbred racer in the right direction, and encourage them to preserve their energy when necessary. Jockeys need to create a strong bond with the horse in order to perform well, as it is their responsibility to bring out the best in the thoroughbred.

Eddie Arcaro was the jockey that led Citation to a great deal of success. He had won more American classic races than any other jockey at the time, and is the only jockey to have won the Triple Crown title twice.

Joel Rosario was another jockey that saw a significant amount of achievements during his career so far. He showed his potential during the 2009 and 2010 Breeders’ Cup events. Other high achieving jockeys include John Velazquez and Javier Castellano.

Betting Predictions

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Another significant part of horse racing is the betting. This has always been one of the biggest ways of generating revenue for the sport. Likewise, betting can allow many enthusiasts to win big if their bet has been successful.

Many people look to the outcome of that year’s Breeders’ Cup for predictions, while others will consider the latest odds based on a trainers’ approach with a certain thoroughbred racer. Betting is widely believed to be a tradition that keeps horse racing alive, and it can be incredibly exciting to place bets on the highest achieving racers.


There are some venues within horse racing which are known for their atmosphere. This has allowed museums and Hall of Fame exhibitions to open, which encourages spectators to explore and appreciate the history of horse racing within a particular venue.

For example, Belmont Park have a statue in Secretariat’s likeness that stands in his honor. Many people like visiting it and appreciating the effort that the Big Red put in. The record times and effortless performance helped cement his legacy.

The Kentucky Derby is another highly popular venue which has a range of interesting talking points. Something that brings in large crowds is the festival which takes place during the week building up to the Kentucky Derby.

There will be a selection of food stalls, local vendors, bars, and more. Because of this, it is definitely worth visiting the Kentucky Derby several days before the event.


Horse racing continues to be a highly competitive sport, with thoroughbreds training hard in an attempt to achieve new records for speed and overall performance. Thanks to the efforts of thoroughbreds like Secretariat, the intense competition continues to see an enormous amount of betting and support in general.