There are three founding sires that all Thoroughbreds can trace back to in the male line: the Darley Arabian, the Godolphin Arabian, and the Byerly Turk, named after their respective owners Thomas Darley, Lord Godolphin, and Captain Robert Byerly. They were taken to England, where they were mated with mares from English and imported bloodlines. The resultant foals were the first generation of Thoroughbreds, and all modern Thoroughbreds trace back to them. Thoroughbreds range in height, which is measured in hands (a hand being four inches). Some are as small as 15 hands while others are over 17. Thoroughbreds can travel medium distances at fast paces, requiring a balance between speed and endurance. Thoroughbreds may be bay, black, dark bay/brown, chestnut, gray, roan, white or palomino. Artificial insemination, cloning and embryo transfer are not allowed in the Thoroughbred breed.
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There are 15 racecourses in the Czech Republic, most notably Pardubice Racecourse, where the country's most famous race, the Velka Pardubicka steeplechase, has been run since 1874. Since 1907 races have also held on a central racecourse in Prague, Velka Chuchle. However, the first official race was organized back in 1816 by Emperor Francis II near Kladruby nad Labem. The Czech horse racing season usually starts at the beginning of April and ends some time in November. Racing takes place mostly at weekends and there is usually one meeting on a Saturday and one on Sunday. Horse races, as well as Thoroughbred horse breeding, is organized by Jockey Club Czech Republic, founded in 1919.
Benter faced an additional and more peculiar anxiety. A month before the handover, his team won a huge Triple Trio jackpot. They were in the middle of an epic winning season, up more than $50 million. The Jockey Club normally put Triple Trio winners in front of the TV cameras to show how, for example, a night watchman had changed his life with a single bet. This time, nobody wanted to tout that the winner was an American algorithm.
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Hong Kong racing uses a parimutuel (also known as “totalizer”) system. Unlike odds in a Vegas sportsbook, which are set in advance and give a decisive edge to the house, parimutuel odds are updated fluidly, in proportion to how bettors wager. Winners split the pool, and the house skims a commission of about 17 percent. (After costs, the Jockey Club’s take goes to charity and the state, providing as much as a tenth of Hong Kong’s tax revenue.) To make money, Benter would have to do more than pick winners: He needed to make bets with a profit margin greater than the club’s 17 percent cut.
One major type of Thoroughbred horse race is the handicap race, in which the weights horses must carry during a race are adjusted in relation to their age (the more immature the horse, the less weight it carries). In this system, a two-year-old, the youngest racer, competes with less weight to carry than a horse that is three years or older. In general, a horse is reckoned as being fully aged at five years and is handicapped accordingly. There are also sex allowances for fillies, so that they carry slightly lower weights than males. Weight penalties or allowances are also provided on the basis of individual horses’ past performance. Such handicaps may be set centrally where racing is so controlled or by individual tracks, the goal being to render all horses as nearly equal as possible by establishing what is called racing form. The handicap race thus represents an outright repudiation of the classic concept that the best horse should win. Instead, handicaps are assigned with the specific objective of giving all the horses in a race an equal chance of winning.
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Chariot racing was one of the most popular ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine sports. Both chariot and mounted horse racing were events in the ancient Greek Olympics by 648 BC and were important in the other Panhellenic Games. It continued although chariot racing was often dangerous to both driver and horse, which frequently suffered serious injury and even death. In the Roman Empire, chariot and mounted horse racing were major industries. From the mid-fifteenth century until 1882, spring carnival in Rome closed with a horse race. Fifteen to 20 riderless horses, originally imported from the Barbary Coast of North Africa, were set loose to run the length of the Via del Corso, a long, straight city street; their time was about 2½ minutes.