Interesting and Strange Facts About Horse Racing

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Three horses and their jockeys race around a bend at a racetrack.
BetMGM @BETMGM Mar 10, 2022, 11:23 AM

While online sports betting may only have been around for a few decades, horse racing has been around for thousands of years. This long history means that there are a lot of interesting (and strange) facts for fans to discover. Join us as we take a look at seven of these facts.

1. There are strict rules and requirements to name a thoroughbred racehorse

If you’re a future racehorse owner and are dead set on naming your horse whatever you please, you may want to put that dream aside. Unlike parents who can name their child anything they like (such as Apple, North West and Cricket), racehorse owners have very specific criteria that they must comply with when naming their horses. The CNN article “The curious art of naming a racehorse” lists some of the rules that must be complied with:

  1. A horse cannot share a name with another horse that is currently racing. This rule also applies to legendary racehorses – so there’ll never be another Seabiscuit!
  2. Names may not exceed 18 characters and seven syllables.
  3. A name cannot be suggestive, vulgar, obscene or insulting.
  4. No political names are allowed.
  5. You can reserve a name, even if you don’t yet own a horse.

While some of these rules make sense, some seem rather strict. But regardless of what you think of these rules, now you probably understand why you’ve seen some peculiar horse names at the track or in online horse racing.

2. The oldest horse to win a race was 19

While a racehorse may live to be as old as 30 or more, most horses start racing at the age of 2 and stop by the age of 5. Considering how intense horse racing is, it’s unsurprising that they have such short careers. However, this makes the 2002 accomplishment of Al Jabal, a pure-bred Arab horse, even more impressive. At the age of 19, this horse won the Three Horseshoes Handicap Stakes, an amazing feat for such an old horse!

3. The most expensive racehorse was sold for $60–$70 million

If you’re considering buying a racehorse and only want the best, you’d better have some deep pockets. Reports indicate that the most expensive racehorse ever sold was Fusaichi Pegasus, who was picked up for somewhere between $60 and $70 million. Yes, this may have been by a breeder (more specifically, Coolmore Stud), but it just goes to show you how serious some people are about these majestic racers.

4. The oldest jockey to win a race was Frank Amonte at 76

Generally speaking, sports are a young person’s game, but that hasn’t stopped some older people from competing well past retirement age (quite literally). One such athlete was professional jockey Frank Amonte. According to HuffPost in their 2012 article “Oldest Jockey Fights To Keep Racing,” even at the age of 76, Amonte was eager to continue his professional horse racing career. 

Unfortunately for him, he was barred from doing so at his local racetrack, despite his 62 years of racing, permission from the racing commissioner, and a medical check-up clearing him to ride. He last competed on September 6, 2011, finishing in second place at Suffolk Downs.

Sadly, this passionate rider passed away on November 3, 2020, at the age of 85.

5. The Mongol Derby is the longest horse race in the world

The longest race in the world is the Mongol Derby, which is more than 620 miles long. This race takes place through the Mongolian-Manchurian steppe across a variety of different types of terrain. While it may be the longest race in the world, it’s definitely not the oldest, as the race only began in 2009. This race is divided into 25 horse and rest stops, with riders switching horses at each of these stops. The race takes place over 10 days, with racing only taking place for 14 hours each day at most.

6. The oldest horse race in the world began in 1519

The title for the longest-running horse race in history undoubtedly goes to the Kiplingcotes Derby. This race first took place in Kiplingcotes in Yorkshire in 1519. Unlike some other famous races, this 4-mile race takes place around the Yorkshire countryside. It has also occurred under some extreme conditions due to the tradition that the race will never take place again if no one takes part. 

7. Secretariat holds the records for all races in the Triple Crown

The GOAT (greatest of all time) Thoroughbred racehorse is undoubtedly Secretariat. This horse not only won over the hearts of horse racing fans around the world, he also holds three unbroken records in the Triple Crown (the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes races). These records are:

  • All-time record at the Kentucky Derby with a first-place finish of 1:59.40.
  • All-time record at the Preakness Stakes with a first-place finish of 1:53.00.
  • All-time record at the Belmont Stakes (1.5-mile race) with a first-place finish of 2:24.00.

If you were a gambler during Secretariat’s career, you didn’t need many horse racing betting strategies. You just needed to wager on this incredible steed!

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While these facts may be fascinating, you may want to take the excitement up a notch with some thrilling horse race betting. If you like to bet on horse racing, you can enjoy great odds thanks to NYRA Bets and BetMGM. Whether you’re looking to try your luck at a single race or to see if fortune is on your side in a horse racing tournament, we have a great range of betting opportunities for you to take advantage of.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.