A horse race is a contest of speed between horses that either are ridden by jockeys or pulled by sulkies driven by drivers. During the course of a race, jockeys maneuver their mounts to gain advantage over the others by making the most accurate and tactical use of their reins.
Although different nations have their own rules for horse races, most of the world’s top racing events are governed by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities. The IFHA compiles a series of annual rankings that rank horses according to their performance in elite flat races, one of many types of racing. The rankings take into account a number of factors, including the quality of the opposition and a horse’s achievements and accomplishments.
The best horses and trainers in the world have a unique bond, and some of the most fascinating stories in horse racing are the ones that involve them. Behind the romanticized facade of Thoroughbred horse racing, however, lies a world of drug abuse, injuries, and gruesome breakdowns. Despite the fact that horses are forced to sprint—often while being whipped with a whip and occasionally even illegal electric shock devices—at speeds that can cause severe injuries and hemorrhaging from the lungs—they love running, and they especially enjoy running against other horses.
For these reasons, some of the best horse races in history have involved head-to-head showdowns between the world’s greatest equine superstars. For example, Secretariat’s 31-length demolition job of the Belmont Stakes in 1973 is considered one of the most amazing displays of individual equine brilliance since Eclipse’s legendary victory in 18th-century America.
Another type of a memorable horse race is when an underdog wins the Kentucky Derby or any other major stakes race. The 1971 Kentucky Derby winner Canonero II is an example of this; he was a long shot who had been shipped to Venezuela to race and then returned to Kentucky with impossible odds. Nevertheless, he won the Derby and shocked the world.
Other horse races are remembered for a different reason—they were simply legendary. The 1965 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, which was won by Sea Bird, is often considered the greatest race of all time, and it is also the first and only win for a light bay horse to sweep a prestigious Triple Crown.