Trivia about Horses, Horse Racing, and Betting

Facts and Trivia about Gambling on Horse Races

Horse Racing Trivia

Horse racing is one of the world's biggest sports. Races have existed at least since the days of the Roman Empire and probably long before that among nomadic tribes. Between wagers placed on official events and spending by breeders and trainers, the industry is worth nearly $150 billion worldwide. Here's some trivia about this sport of kings that still fascinates millions all over the Earth.

(The sections below are organized according to the original Trivial Pursuit categories.)


Until 1921 African-American riders dominated the Kentucky Derby and most other horse racing courses in the US. The first winner of the Kentucky Derby was an African-American rider named Oliver Lewis; a crowd of 10,000 were on hand to watch Lewis come out on top of a field of 15 riders, 13 of whom were black. Of the first 28 Derby winners, 15 were African-American.

The Kentucky Derby Website - ScreenshotThe Kentucky Derby, one of the longest-running horse races in the world, was founded by Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. If his name rings a bell, it's because he is the grandson of William Clark, explorer of the Louisiana Purchase territory alongside Meriwether Lewis.

People & Places

Considered one of the most dominant jockeys in the sport's history, Eddie Arcaro rode 250 losing horses before he ever won a single race. Arcaro would go on to win a total of 4,779 horse races including five Derbys, six at the Preakness, and a further six in the Belmont Stakes.

It is said that the horse that won the first Melbourne Cup, Australia's most important and longest-lived horse race, was walked 800 kilometers from New South Wales to Melbourne. In truth, the winner of the first two Melbourne Cups, named Archer, arrived at both events by steamship.

Another piece of trivia from Australia, where horse racing is one of the most popular sports, is the young age of one of the Cup's jockeys. Jockey Peter St. Albans was just 13 years old in 1876 when he and his horse Briseis took the Cup.

Arts & Entertainment

The oldest jockey to win a major event in American horse racing was 54 year old Willie Shoemaker riding Ferdinaned in 1986.

The blinkers and nosebands worn by horses at many races around the world are not just for aesthetics. Blinkers, which look like masks worn around an animal's eyes and looped around its ears, are designed to encourage horses to look forward and concentrate on the course, while nosebands (wrapped around the animal's nose and ears) encourage the horse to keep its head down.

Science & Nature

Jockeys work at least as hard at maintaining a light build as they do at their riding technique. The lightest jockey in the sport's history weighed just forty-nine pounds, or about five percent of the body weight of an average racing horse.

Secretariat, the most famous horse in American racing, still holds the record for fastest track time at the storied Kentucky Derby. His time of 1:59.4 makes him as the only animal to complete the course in under two minutes.

Ninety percent of all modern thoroughbreds can trace their lineage back to a single animal " a seventeenth century stallion named Eclipse.

Sports & Leisure

The highest stud fee for any racing horse belongs to Canada's Northern Dancer. The fee commanded by Northern Dancer's owners, $1,000,000, still stands as the largest amount in recorded history.

The two biggest underdogs to win at the Kentucky Derby were Donerail and Giacomo. Donerail's 1913 victory came at the extremely long odds of 91.45 to 1. Giacomo, a winner in 2005, faced down the second-longest odds to take the title, starting the race at 50.3 to 1.

You can also read up on the best horse racing betting sites here.