Horse Racing: The Sport Of Kings

From ancient times to modern times, horse racing was a part of peoples lives. (edited by me.)

From ancient times to modern times, horse racing was a part of people’s lives. (edited by me.)

Jake Williams, Journalist

Horse Racing is a sport that has been around since ancient times, and has been part of people’s lives in one way or another since the dawn of human civilization. Since the Ludi Romani, the Roman Games in 366 B.C, people were filling up massive coliseums to watch chariot racing, similar to modern day horse racing, but with a cart on the back of the horse. The stadiums built for these races were gigantic, maxing out at 250,000 people, with four devoted fan bases. Those fan bases were based on colors, being the Reds, Whites, Blues, and Greens. Those colors may seem arbitrary, but they actually were a great source of controversy. For example, the fan base of the Blues tended to have Orthodox Christian views and the Greens having more populist, “for the people,” views regarding Roman culture. In fact, the rivalry was such a big deal, it was a giant controversy across the entire empire when the emperor, Justinian I was a blue, but his wife Theodora, was a green.

Nowadays, the sport doesn’t quite draw the same crowds as ancient times, with the exception of a few major races. In fact, according to Cristina Gough, a sports researcher, horse racing fans are ranked as having “a median age of 63,” only behind the PGA Tour and Figure Skating, both having “a median age of 64.” For reference, the youngest median age of a major sport in the U.S. is the NBA, having “a median age of 42.” However, one event that does draw crowds across the world is the Kentucky Derby, the world’s most famous horse race. It is sometimes nicknamed, “The best two minutes in sports” due to the high intensity of the event, featuring the world’s best race horses. In fact, last weekend, the 147th Kentucky Derby was ran, and Medina Spirit took home the prize. It wasn’t just any victory though, as horse trainer Bob Baffert had a winning horse in the derby for the seventh time, the most of anyone in horse racing history.

So why is horse racing called “The Sport Of Kings?” Well, it’s no secret that horse racing is certainly a rich man’s game. Horse racing was always prestigious, even back in the Roman Empire, when Emperor Nero entered a chariot race himself. This didn’t end well, as he went soaring off the chariot, barely surviving, and suffering serious injuries. It’s still prestigious today, as horse owner, Nelson Clemmons says, “The cost to purchase a good mare can be between $50,000 and $400,000 or more”. On top of that, you have to pay a stud fee to breed the mare with a successful horse, which costs tens of thousands of dollars and over. Of course you have to pay entry fees for the races as well, and the big ones that pay a large sum of money are the most expensive to enter, with strict requirements to be eligible. In the case of the Kentucky Derby, it has a gigantic field of horses, usually around 20 horses, which means the chances of winning the upward of one million dollar prize is very unlikely. Of course it requires a lot of time and effort as well from horse trainers and owners, who treat the horses well and keep them in excellent condition, as much as PETA activists would like to complain.

But just because you have to have big bucks to run a horse in a race, that doesn’t mean commoners can’t enjoy betting on the races. You can bet numerous different aspects of the race, not just who wins, but also the horse or two behind him as well, sometimes spanning multiple races. These bets are a lot less likely to cash out for you, but if they do, you could be in for a huge payday. If you lose, then it’s not that big of a deal, as you will only lose a dollar or two if you’re smart.

Speaking of smart, there are different strategies that different people use for betting. Two of the most common strategies are exact opposites of each other. Some people believe the winning strategy is betting a lot of money on the favorite is the way to go, and others believe betting smaller amounts of money on a long shot horse is a better strategy. Those in favor of the second strategy would say that if they lose, they aren’t losing too much money, and if one of the long shots happens to get lucky and win, then they’re going to have a positive day. The rebuttal to this would be that the long shot horse has almost no chance at winning, and so you would end up with a negative amount of money nearly all the time. Even though you bet more money on a horse, there’s a higher chance that horse comes through for you and you can escape with more profit. Personally, I would be more conservative with my money to avoid disaster, but everyone is different.


Santa Anita (top) and Del Mar (bottom) are the two largest race tracks in Southern California, and considered some of the world’s nicest to visit. (edited by me.)


In conclusion, horse racing is not just an entertaining thing to watch, but an ancient sport that has potential to even help bridge wealth divides. Even though only the richest among us have enough money to afford to breed and race horses, they provide people in the middle and lower spectrum of the income bracket an opportunity to increase their own bank accounts, and have a fun time at the track as well. Southern California has two major race tracks, which are both open depending on the time year. Santa Anita in Arcadia, which runs from winter until early summer, and Del Mar near San Diego, which runs from mid summer to fall, with some meets in the winter months as well. If you ever get the chance, go experience the event for yourself, you may be surprised by how much you enjoy it.