A horse race is a competition in which humans ride horses on a flat track over a set distance. To win, a horse must cross the finish line first. The horse must also follow the prescribed course, if there is one, and jump any obstacles (if present). The winner of each race receives a prize money, often in the form of a silver cup. The history of horse races dates back to the Greek Olympic Games in 700 to 40 B.C. Organized racing in the United States began with the British occupation of New Amsterdam in 1664. A commander named Colonel Richard Nicolls laid out a 2-mile (3-km) course on Long Island and offered a silver trophy to the best racehorses. The hallmark of excellence for American Thoroughbreds until the Civil War was stamina, not speed.
In a normal race, the horses are assigned fixed weights to be carried by each horse. These weights are determined by the age, sex, and previous performance of the horse, as well as its pedigree. In some races, the weights are adjusted based on the distance of the race and whether the race is open or stakes.
Usually, the highest earning horse wins the race. The higher the earnings, the bigger the purse, which is the amount of money paid to the owners by the racetrack. In addition to winnings, the owner has to pay training and veterinary expenses to maintain a horse in racing condition.
The horses in the race were competing for a $400,000 purse. The horses in the lead were War of Will, that year’s Preakness champion, and Mongolian Groom, a small-framed colt with hypnotic smooth strides. Behind them was McKinzie, another small-framed bay, and Vino Rosso, a big chestnut colt with a powerful move on the far turn.
At the start, the eleven horses crowded at the gate and broke cleanly from it. The horses’ coats looked bright in the walking ring. The bettors hoped that their owners were confident enough to make them run the distance.
The horses’ trainers clad in gray and black smocks and hats, and their jockeys sported black silks and dark shades. The crowd was a mix of the rich and poor, the old and the young. Many were yelling and screaming at the top of their lungs.