(PCM) Many of us have heard about the infamous Triple Crown in horse racing which consists of the Belmont, Preakness and Kentucky Derby races, however that is about where our knowledge ends. We have gathered together a collection of some horse racing facts to give (ourselves) and you a better understanding behind some of the terminology and history of the sport.
Horse racing is one of America’s oldest pastimes and has been around for generations. The very first horse to win the Kentucky Derby was Aristides all the back in the year of 1875. Currently, the race length for the Kentucky Derby is 1 and 1/4 miles, however back then it was only a 1 and 1/2 mile course.
Chariot races run in ancient Rome are the earliest known example of organised horse races. However, it’s likely that horses were raced as long ago as 4,500 BC in Central Asia.
The Eclipse Awards are the equivalent of year-end honors like “MVP” or the Heisman Award in the world of horse racing. The top honor is Horse of the Year, which is given to the most impressive racehorse of the year, and there are divisions for different ages, genders and racing specialties, like surface and distance. They’re awarded each January for the preceding year.
A jockey by the name of Frank Hayes has a very special distinction in horse racing history when in 1923, he suffered a fatal heart attack and died mid-race during the Belmont in New York. His body remained on the horse, named Sweet Kiss, and crossed the finish line in first place. The payoff was 20-1. He had never won a race in his life. It was claimed that Sweet Kiss was nicknamed “Sweet Kiss of Death” for the rest of her life.
There have been several other deaths involving jockeys and horse racing since that time, but it may just be the only time a jockey has remained dead in the saddle and actually finished off the race to win after death.
Racing’s Hall of Fame is in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. An induction ceremony is held each summer honoring a variety of horses, trainers, jockeys and historical figures.
The oldest trainer to win the Kentucky Derby is Art Sherman. He won with California Chrome in 2014 at the age of 77.
The richest American racehorse of all time is California Chrome. His career earnings currently total $14,502,650, topping the all-time list for the U.S. and North America.
A Thoroughbred racehorse weighs around 1,000 pounds. They are medium-sized horses, with other breeds weighing in at 700 to more than 2,000 pounds. Thoroughbreds carry weight of around 110-130 pounds for races, including the weight of the jockey.
The universal racehorse birthday is Jan. 1. Regardless of the date they were born, all Northern Hemisphere Thoroughbreds are considered 1 year old on Jan. 1 of the year after their birth. They age another year each Jan. 1 thereafter. This is so horses can easily be grouped by age for competition purposes, as many races are restricted to certain age groups.
No horse over the age of 18 has won a race in any format in the recorded history of horse racing. The last 18-year-old to win a race was steeplechaser Sonny Somers in 1980.
The Kentucky Derby has it’s own traditional drink called the mint julep. It is wildly overpriced at $11 a pop. Connoisseurs of bourbon consider it a waste of good whiskey.
In the Derby history, no winner has emerged from post 17. Oddly, since 1900, post 1, often called “the dreaded rail,” is tied for post 5 with 12 victories.
There you have it folks, with some fun facts to help you learn some more about the sport of horse racing or maybe just one up your trivia knowledge.