A horse race track is a specially-surfaced course - usually either turf, dirt or sand - that's oval in shape and whose total distance is measured in terms of miles and furlongs (a furlong is an eighth of a mile). A typical race track is about a mile long.
The condition of a race track is an important consideration in assessing a horse's performance in a race. The major factors of the race track condition to consider in evaluating prospective horse performance include:
- the surface conditions
- the type of surface
- the track configuration
- the racing speed
Race track conditions are influenced by the following factors:
- soil type
- moisture content
A Brief History of Race Tracks
Horse racing has been an enduring element of man's history. For thousands of years, it has flourished as the sport of kings and of the common man.
From ancient arenas to farm fields, from country lanes to modern race courses, the race track has been a constant but evolving center of sporting events in the history of humankind.
Horse racing was an organized sport from Asia to the Mediterranean by the time man began keeping written records. Chariot racing and mounted horse racing were loved by the Egyptians and were included in the ancient Olympics at about 638 BC.
The origins of the modern horse race track can be traced back to England. Excitement brought about by betting on horse races quickly caught the fancy of English citizenry in the early 1700s. Horse racing became a professional sport in England during the reign of Queen Anne and from then on, race tracks experienced rapid development.
The first American horse race track was laid out on Long Island in 1665. For the next two centuries, race tracks came and went in New York and the surrounding areas. Most race tracks were run by the rich and famous and were used as places to showcase their horses.
Today most public interest in U.S. horse racing surrounds the Breeders Cup and the three Triple Crown races - the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. There are currently about 90 thoroughbred and 29 standardbred race tracks in 33 U.S. states.