Horse racing has been around for centuries. Although some of the rules are different today, most of the traditions are intact. However, advances in technology have changed the sport in the past few decades.
In the early years of horse racing, bettors placed their money with the track manager. As the popularity of the sport grew, racetracks began to make money by offering private bets. This was done by setting odds that would favor the bettors. These bets were called wagers.
During the reign of Louis XIV, races based on gambling were common. Among the first known races was a race between two noblemen. The winner would receive a silver cup. Several races were held, each restricted to a county. Some were match races. Others were open events.
By the time of the American Civil War, speed became a goal. This was achieved through the use of powerful painkillers and anti-epilepsy drugs. Racing officials were unable to keep up with these drugs, which bled into the preparation and racing.
Until the 1960s, most racing was conducted in two-mile heats, and the winner got a prize. However, the number of horses running in these heats decreased. After the Civil War, more public races were held, with open events where larger fields of runners were allowed.
In the early 20th century, bookmakers began to set odds on races. This is sometimes referred to as pari-mutuel. Throughout the 20th century, the number of wagers grew and increased. Bettors paid money to the track or owners, and the track or owner provided the purse. If the bettor did not win, the owner or track forfeited half of the purse.
Several new drugs were added to the mix, including growth hormones and blood doping. Antipsychotics were also introduced.
During the mid-19th century, an activist group fought against doping. Their members were whipped and drugged. For instance, the jockey for a race, called a jockey, was not identified until the 1850s.
Another rule that affected racing was a ban on wagers. California banned betting on the races in 1909. However, in 1933, the ban was overturned by a ballot measure.
Horse racing began to spread to other countries, with races such as the King’s Plate and Queen’s Plate in England and the Grand Premio Internacional Carlos Pellegrini in Argentina. In Australia, the Caulfield Cup is held.
The first documented horse race was held in France in 1651. It resulted from a wager between two noblemen. There was no official record of the names of the riders, though contemporary accounts identified them from the second half of the 17th century.
Unlike other sports, most of the traditions of horse racing have survived. Despite the changes, the game has evolved into a massive public-entertainment business. Many of the richest events are now sponsored, with the bettors’ stakes fees being used to fund the race.
Race safety is one of the most significant changes in the game. Thermal imaging cameras and MRI scanners can detect overheating horses post-race. Also, 3D printing is used to create casts for injured horses.