Horse racing has been a popular sport on almost every continent for centuries. Originating in 4500 BC as a game for tribesmen, the sport has developed an organized structure and hundreds of millions of supporters around the world. Most of the modern popularity of horse racing comes from the betting aspect of the sport, which allows the sport to continue on successfully.
There are four major types of horse racing, including: flat racing, harness racing, endurance racing, and steeplechasing. Flat racing is the most popular style of racing in the United States and relies mainly on thoroughbred horses running around a flat track as quickly as possible. The first horse to complete the race by passing the designated position on the track wins the race, unless a penalty is incurred before or during the race.
Horses are ridden by jockeys who steer the horse to the quickest route to the front of the pack and encourage the horse to run faster at certain times of the race. Without a jockey, a horse would not run as quickly or on the correct route.
Naming the racehorses is an important aspect of the sport as well, since names cannot be repeated unless a long amount of time has passed and the older horse was not extremely notable. This allows for easier record-keeping with less confusion about horses.
Horses can either run on grass or dirt, dirt being the more common surface in the United States. Each race has a predetermined length for the horses to run, measured in furlongs (1 furlong= of a mile). The most popular dirt races are referred to as the Triple Crown, made up of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes.
Each racetrack's condition is rated before a race is run and the standards differ for dirt or turf tracks, depending on the weather. Different horses excel in different conditions, so some horses may do better on a slower track than others.
The horse racing industry relies heavily on the inclusion of gambling as its main source of financing, which allows for greater inclusion of fans than any other major sport.