A horse race is a competitive event in which horses are ridden by jockeys over a measured course. The horses may also jump obstacles, known as hurdles, that are positioned along the course. A horse race can be a single or multiple races, depending on the size of the event and the track. In the United States, organized horse racing began with Colonel Richard Nicolls’ establishment of a two-mile (3.2-km) course during the British occupation of New York City in 1664. In the early days of organized racing, the hallmark of excellence was stamina rather than speed.
In the beginning, a lot of money was wagered on horse races. As a result, the odds were usually quite high for a winner. The odds are based on the probabilities that a particular horse will win, and are calculated using factors such as the previous races, current pace, and the history of betting patterns.
The era’s fastest horses could cover four miles in eight minutes. Although today’s best American horses don’t race that far, many race over a distance of one mile and a quarter (the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes).
Before a horse race starts, all the competing horses are lined up in stalls or a starting gate. Once the starting signal is given, the gates open and the horses begin to run. A jockey is assigned to each horse, and their job is to guide the horses along the race track, over any hurdles, and through any other obstacles, such as tight turns or dirt surfaces.
During the race, the jockey will be constantly checking the horse to make sure it is in good condition. They will also be assessing the competition and looking for opportunities to gain advantage over other horses. In some races, a jockey will be able to place a bet on several horses and receive a higher payout. This is called a “multiple.”
The most popular betting system is parimutuels, where winning bettors get all the money wagered on the winners, less a specified percentage by the track (Take Out). In addition to parimutuels, horse racing has a number of other types of wagering, including exotics. An exotic is a bet that requires the player to select all the winners in successive races. These are often used in combination with other types of bets to create larger wagers, such as a Daily Double or Pick 6.