Ten Horse Racing Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

Millions of people flock to racetracks every year to watch the fastest horses compete against each other. Novices quickly learn to read betting odds before wagering on the horse with the strangest name or the loudest silk. Betting pros will turn their nose up to this and probably use it as an opportunity to show off their horse-racing knowledge. However, there are plenty of interesting facts that even the most clued-up horse racing enthusiasts aren’t aware of.

Take a look at ten horse racing facts you probably didn’t know to get an edge when discussing the odds for upcoming horse races. Also, make sure you check out this horse racing betting guide to learn the fundamentals before wading into a war of words with a wannabe John McCririck.

1. Thoroughbreds Have the Same Birthday

That’s right, Thoroughbreds all share one of two birthdays. For Thoroughbreds born in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s January 1. In the Southern Hemisphere, it’s August 1. However, they aren’t born on that day. Instead, they are given these birthdays on the year of their birth to make it easier to keep track of a horse’s age. This is because several big races enforce an age limit to provide horses with only one chance of winning it. For instance, horses have to be three years old to race in the Kentucky Derby.

Breeders try to get their mares to give birth as close to January 1 or August 1 as possible. Doing this provides foals with more time to mature before starting their racing career. Although a horse’s gestation period is 11 months and that mares generally go into heat during the spring, many Thoroughbred breeders use lights to trick a mare’s body into thinking it is spring at the end of winter so that she will go into heat early.

2. The Queen Has Owned Many Successful Racehorses

The reigning Queen of England is a famous horse lover. Over the years, she has owned many racehorses, which have won more than 1,600 times. Apart from the Epsom Derby, her horses have won all British Classic Races – some even multiple times. What’s more, there are even races named after the royal: the Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup, Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes, and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

3. Thoroughbred Name Rules

When looking at the bizarre names of some horses, it may come as a surprise that Thoroughbred owners must follow guidelines set by the Jockey Club when naming their horses. Owners can submit up to six names no longer than 18 characters in length for the club to choose from. However, horses can not have the same name as race tracks or graded stakes races, cannot consist of only numbers, and mustn’t have the names of actual people unless the Jockey Club receives written permission from that person. In addition, names cannot be reused until at least five years after the original horse has left racing and breeding and can never be named after Hall of Fame or Eclipse Award winners.

4. The Sport of Kings

Horse racing is famously known as the Sport of Kings. This royal moniker originated In 1605 when King James I took a significant interest in the sport. In fact, he became so obsessed that Parliament urged him to refocus on his duty as King instead of racing. These pleas didn’t deter the King. He held horse races at his royal resort in Newmarket before his son, King James II, made the English town the headquarters of British horse racing. From then on, the sport gained even more popularity among the royals, earning it the nickname.

5. The First American Horse Racetrack Opened in 1665

Horse racing in America is even older than the United States itself. The first horse racetrack in America dates back to 1655 when the Newmarket course opened in Salisbury, New York. Although horse racing was popular locally, it wasn’t until 1868 that organized racing became officially regulated. By 1890, there were 314 racetracks in the USA. To this day, the sport continues to grow in popularity in many US states.

6. Horse Racing Is Britain’s Second Favorite Sport to Watch

After football, horse racing is the most-watched sport in Britain. Over six million spectators visit Britain’s many racetracks every year, contributing to this lucrative industry. Around six million people attend the races each year in Britain alone.

7. What It Takes To Become a Successful Jockey

Unsurprisingly, as it’s quite a dangerous sport, you need to be at least 18 years old to get a jockey license. After this, there are specific requirements expected of you to be a jockey.

Firstly, being light is essential. Riders often weigh around 108 -118 pounds (49kg – 53.5kg). Although there isn’t a height limit per se, most jockeys measure around 4’10”- 5’6” ft (1.47m – 1.68m).

Jockeys usually get into racing via an apprenticeship or by getting a degree at the North American Racing Academy (NARA).

8. The Fastest Speed Recorded by a Racehorse

The fastest recorded speed achieved by a racehorse is a whopping 43.97 MPH (70.76 KPH). Winning Brew, who Francis Vitale trained in the United States, holds this Guinness World Record. This race speed was recorded over two furlongs at the Penn National Race Course in Grantville, Pennsylvania, on May 14, 2008.

9. Racing Horses Have To Be Microchipped

Before the introduction of microchips, racehorses had their identification details tattooed to the inside of their lip. The tattoos consisted of a letter that corresponded to the horse’s date of birth, along with four or five numbers. However, microchips replaced tattoos in 2020. To apply with Jockey Club rules, every Thoroughbred must have a microchip to compete.

10. Gender Rules in Horse Racing

Horse racing is one of the sports where men and women can compete against each other. Yet, the rules are different for the gender of the racehorses themselves. Male horses (colts or geldings) – cannot compete in female (fillies and mares) – horse races, but female horses can enter and run against males. Generally speaking, male horses are faster and stronger than females. Therefore, it doesn’t always make economic sense to pit a filly or mare against a colt or a gelding, but it occasionally happens.

Horse Racing USA

Despite competition from the ‘Big Four’ major professional sports leagues – namely Major League Baseball (MLB), National Basketball Association (NBA), National Football League (NFL), and the National Hockey League (NHL) – horse racing remains a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States. According to the Jockey Club, in 2020, the combined pari-mutuel ‘handle’ or, in other words, the gross amount wagered, on- and off-course, during the year, was $10.93 billion.

The United States is home to around twenty major racecourses, some of which date from the late nineteenth or early twentieth century and, as such, are designated National Historic Landmarks. Take, for example, Churchill Downs, in Louisville, Kentucky, which officially opened for the inaugural running of the Kentucky Derby on May 17, 1875. The iconic ‘Twin Spires’ were added in 1895, as part of a new grandstand, and have been a major component of the Churchill Downs ‘brand’ ever since.

Like other major horse racing jurisdictions, the United States offers an impressive schedule of racing events, which provide excitement and entertainment throughout the season. The first half of every season is dominated by the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, usually known as simply as the ‘Triple Crown’.

The Triple Crown consists of a series of three Grade 1 races – namely the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes – which are restricted to three-year-old thoroughbred colts, fillies and geldings and, traditionally, run in May or early June. The Kentucky Derby, a.k.a. ‘The Run for the Roses’, run over 1 mile 2 furlongs at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May, traditionally leads off the Triple Crown. The Preakness Stakes, run over 1 mile 1½furlongs at Pimlico in Baltimore, Maryland, traditionally follows two weeks later, with the Belmont Stakes, run over 1 mile 4 furlongs at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, three weeks after that.

Any horse that wins all three races is awarded the Triple Crown Trophy, which was commissioned in 1950, but retrospectively awarded to all winners since 1875, which was the first year in which the races were in co-existence. Remarkably, in the better part of a century and a half, just 13 horses have won the Triple Crown Trophy.

Conversely, the second half of the US horse racing season focuses on horses of all ages as they work towards the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, or Breeders’ Cup for short. Nowadays, the Breeders’ Cup consists of a series of prestigious Grade 1 races, staged over two days in late October or early November at one of roster of racecourses in North America. The meeting culminates with the Breeders’ Cup Classic, run over 1 mile 2 furlongs and worth $6 million in total prize money. It goes without saying that even of the world stage of the sport of kings, this is serious money.

Notable US racehorses of recent years include American Pharoah and Justify, both of whom were trained by Californian Bob Baffert and both of whom won the Triple Crown in their respective three-year-old campaigns. Indeed, in 2015, American Pharoah also won the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, thereby becoming the first horse in history to win the so-called ‘Grand Slam of Thoroughbred Racing’. Three years later, Justify emulated his great-grandsire, Seattle Slew, by winning the Triple Crown with an undefeated record, making him just the second horse in history to do so.

Betting on horse racing in the United States is, for the most part, pari-mutuel betting. By contrast to fixed-odds betting, in which the payout is determined at the time the bet is placed, all pari-mutuel bets of a particular type are ‘pooled’ together, such that the payout can only be determined once the betting has closed. Subject to a small deduction, for commission and taxes, the amount of money remaining in a particular pool is divided by the number of winning tickets and a winning dividend is declared.

The most common pari-mutuel bets, collectively known as ‘straight’ bets, are win, place and show. It goes without saying that a win bet is a wager on a selection to finish first but, stateside, place and show bets are specific wagers on a selection to finish first or second, or first, second or third, respectively. Other, more complex – and potentially more lucrative – bets, collectively known as ‘exotic’ bets, are also available. These include the ‘exacta’ and ‘trifecta’, which are wagers on two or three selections to finish first and second, or first, second and third, in the correct order, among many others. Granted the odds on offer, exotic bets lend themselves well to permutations or, in other words, placing smaller multiple bets within one overall bet.

The US is one of the world’s central hubs for competitive racing and its no surprise to see top horses, trainers, jockeys and owners from around the world make their way to the States in order to attempt to impress of big money, high profile races. Alongside other noteworthy, often US-centric sports (the aforementioned NFL, NFL etc), the casino world is also a growing area of interest for punters in the States, with more and more of them opening up to the realities of online play and betting. In doing so the US is effectively catching up with most of the rest of the developed world, which already had a much more liberal approach to placing online wagers. Offering the freedom of say, playing poker, roulette, slots and the like online, or in this case sports betting in the form of horse racing is a thrilling way to pass the time.

Horse Racing in the USA has a bright future, built on a history of competitive races and high quality opposition. After a rocky 2020 due to covid, the remainder of this year and especially 2022 looked primed for both casual and professional racing fans to have a winning season. With sportsbooks offering various bonus offers and the like to get punters involved, it’s as good a time as any to do just that. As the saying goes ‘Place your bets now please!’.

Are Oisin Murphy and Jim Culloty related?

The simple answer is yes, they are. Oisin Murphy, who became British Champion Jockey for the first time in 2019 is, in fact, the nephew of Jim Culloty, best known as the jockey of three-time Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Best Mate and Grand National winner Bindaree.

Raised in Killarney, County Kerry, in southwestern Ireland, Murphy originally harboured an ambition to become a showjumper. However, at the age of 14 he began riding in unsanctioned horse races, colloquially known as ‘flappers’, contested by bona fide racehorses, but ridden by children. By his own admission, race riding did not come naturally to the young Murphy and, on reviewing the races in which he had ridden, alongside his uncle, was often reduced to tears by the pitiless criticism of his riding ability.

Nevertheless, Murphy perservered as a jockey and, in 2013, became apprenticed to Andrew Balding at Park House Stables in Kingsclere, near Newbury, Berkshire. That September, Murphy hit the headlines by riding a 9,260/1 four-timer on Ayr Gold Cup Day, including the winner of the Ayr Gold Cup itself, Highland Colori. In 2016, Murphy succeeded Andrea Atzeni as the only jockey retained by Qatar Racing and it is in the familiar claret with gold braid colours that he has enjoyed his finisest moments. Indeed, it was in those colours that he rode his first Group One winner, Roaring Lion, in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown Park in July, 2018.

Why It’s Good to Wager at the Breeder’s Cup

The Breeders’ Cup brings together the best Thoroughbreds from around the world to participate in the sport’s world championships, commemorating the culmination of a year’s worth of the world’s most exciting horse racing. It is a must for many spectators simply because of the event, but others visit for the chance to place bets on the horses. Veterans have already put out general guidelines for the newcomers on wagering on the Breeders’ Cup.

The Breeders’ Cup World Championships in horse racing is one of the most widely awaited events of the year for horseplayers. This is due to the high level of horses and talented participants competing at the Breeders’ Cup, which guarantees plenty of upsets and big rewards.

What is the Breeders’ Cup, and how does it work?

The Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which occur at the end of each year, serve as a capstone to the racing season. Prize money in the millions, top-notch horses and massive fields all point to the coronation of champions and the cashing in of large winning bets.

Some races are simply more significant than others. The stakes have been raised. The level of competitiveness is higher. The action has merely become more intense. The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series of races honestly have greater significance than the other races in the series.

The victor of the Challenge Series will receive an automatic, paid entrance into the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, and that is only the beginning of the benefits. Challenge Series champions have been crowned in the Breeders’ Cup over many years and in different nations.

Wagering partners

The Breeders’ Cup World Championships feature the best collection of thoroughbred races in the whole year. Many fans are fired up for their breeder’s cup live picks through television gaming networks and a digital broadcast and cable network focused on sports. But some are not content to simply watch the incredible events unfold; they want to participate in the betting on the action. The process of placing bets gets us one step closer to the event. Thus, you could check out the best horses to bet on here: https://www.tvg.com/promos/breeders-cup/breeders-cup-contenders/.

Still, although non-horsemen aren’t in with a chance of winning a portion of the $30 million cash prizes, people are more than welcome to participate in the betting activity if all of them make the appropriate selections.

The appropriate form

Take a look at the information on the form. The times of horses, both in races and in workouts, are often cited as performance indicators. Still, in reality, a horse being started chasing up by a high-quality competitor in fast settings in the heat can make their time appear significantly more remarkable than, say, a horse racing over a better and deeper ground in excellent conditions.

If you compared the form of Breeders’ Cup runners to their respective adversaries, you could get a more accurate picture of their chances of winning. Frequently, a favorite horse will have trounced their competition by three lengths and looked impressive in the process. On the other hand, a close examination may indicate that the defeated horses haven’t accomplished much.

In contrast, something with more favorable Breeders’ Cup odds may not have appeared to be as showy on the surface. Still, it may have been up against horses of significantly higher overall quality. Regardless of the time, it might be claimed that the aggressive horse has established himself in the top division and can be counted on to run a strong race regardless of the clock’s reading.

Choosing the effective wager

It comes as no surprise because when you think you’ve got a horse that you anticipate will win and reflects a good return on investment, you want to bet on it right away, on the money.

While it is possible to be overconfident or be unable to choose among two or more horses in a race on occasion, there are several different types of wagers you can place, and when it comes to placing your bets, don’t be concerned if you can’t be present at the event where the wagering takes place. The official betting partners have a fantastic sign-up bonus waiting for you, allowing you to wager directly with them online and then shout your horses on from wherever you may be while remaining safe and secure inside your home.


Each year, the Breeders’ Cup World Championships attract the top Thoroughbreds from every division of racing to compete in a variety of events at the end of their season. It is a massive event that almost everyone is looking forward to, and because it is such a large competition, the bigger the bets you place, the higher the prizes you will receive in return.

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