Friday, August 15, 2008

History of Saratoga Race Course

Horse racing has been around for centuries; however, the first organized Thoroughbred horse racing track to open in the United States was Saratoga Race Course. Saratoga opened on August 3, 1863, which not only makes it the oldest horse racing track; it also makes it the oldest type of sporting venue in the United States.

Saratoga Race Course is known by many different nicknames, including The Spa, due to the mineral springs that are located in close proximity to the race course. Another nickname for the track is the Graveyard of Favorites. The track received this nickname because of the many upsets that have occurred over the years of racing that have taken place at Saratoga. One of the several upsets happened to Man O’ War at Saratoga. This is the racetrack where Man O’ War received his only defeat in twenty one starts. Another favorite to fall at the infamous racetrack was Secretariat when he was defeated by a horse by the name of Onion. This defeat came after Secretariat impressively won all three races of the Triple Crown. The 1930 Travers Stakes also saw the fall of another favorite when Gallant Fox was defeated by Jim Dandy. Jim Dandy was the long shot of the race and went off at odds of 100:1.

The historic racetrack has seen continuous racing for most of its history. The track has only closed on four occasions. The first time the track closed was in 1911 and 1912 when the governor of New York outlawed all types of wagering on horseracing. The next time the track closed was during World War II. The last time that Saratoga closed was during the 2006 summer meet. This closure was due to a heat wave that made it unsafe for the horses to race.

Saratoga is similar to the other racetracks in New York in that there are three separate tracks that compose the race course. The main track at Saratoga is the dirt track that is one and one eighth miles in length. There is also an outer turf course located on the inside of the dirt course that is one mile and ninety eight feet in length. There is also an inner turf course that is located on the inside of the main turf course that is approximately seven and one half furlongs in length. There is also a separate track that is used for training and warm-ups.

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Varieties of Thoroughbred Horse Racing

We all have at least a passing familiarity with thoroughbred racing, since the three largest events in thoroughbred racing are televised every year. These three events are known as the Thoroughbred Triple Crown and are comprised of the Kentucky Derby, the Belmont Stakes and the Preakness.

All three of the Thoroughbred Triple Crown races have one thing in common: the track which is used for the race. All three are run on a flat dirt track. Horses in the Triple Crown will usually pace themselves until near the finish, saving a surge of incredible speed in the effort to win the race. However, some horses have had so much speed that they have held the starting position from the second they came out of the gate until the finish line!

Spectators are often unaware that there are in fact other forms or Thoroughbred racing out there other than what is familiar to us all via our television sets. The Triple Crown is the most popular Thoroughbred horse racing event by far, but there are many others.

One variation on thoroughbred horse racing popular with enthusiasts is turf racing. These races are quite similar to other kinds of thoroughbred horse races, but with one important difference: they are run on a grass track rather than one of dirt. Other than this difference, they are by and large the same sort of event.

Turf courses for thoroughbred horse racing are just as long as the courses used for other race events. The difference is the turf; as well as the terms which are used in the sport. The difference is chiefly in the words used to describe the condition of the track used for the race. For example, in turf racing, "firm" is used where in dirt track racing, "fast" would be used instead.

Thoroughbred horse racing has other variations; such as steeplechases, where horses have to run the race while jumping over fences which are placed on the racecourse. These races are more difficult for jockeys and horses – but are nothing less than thrilling to fans.

On a flat race course, speed is the primary factor which is needed. Steeplechases, by contrast require the horse to have a great deal of stamina and the jockey to have some skills – the jockey must know the right time to tell the horse to jump in order to clear the fences. The number of jumps which will be needed is dependent on the length of the race course in this variation on Thoroughbred horse racing.