Quarter Horse Racing Article and Photos Copyrighted - see credits below
Quarter Horse racing and short racing in general are a huge, multi-million industry in North America, even though when horse racing is mentioned, most people think about Thoroughbred racing.
Short racing, also known as quarter, or Quarter Horse racing, is a sport that originated in North America. The roots of short racing reach far into colonial America, resulting in the creation of a breed of horse that grew to be the largest in the world by numbers of registered animals -- the American Quarter Horse. The distance of a quarter of a mile was a very popular one for these horses and races, hence the name, but there are some other officially recognized distances as well in Quarter racing: 220, 250, 300, 330, 350, 400, 550, 660, 770 and 870 yards, with 440 yard (the quarter mile) being the most popular.
In the old days, such races were usually match races, and they were held under varying starting conditions. Today, the horses fly out of starting boxes and are electronically timed, of course. The American Quarter Horse is the fastest horse over the quarter mile distance, not just traditionally, but it has always been a Quarter Horse and still is that holds the world record over that distance. Additionally, world records are held over others of these short distances.
Quarter Horse racing offers some of the very richest horse races in the world. Actually, the richest horse race in the world of horse racing had been for years the All-American Quarter Horse Futurity, until the Thoroughbred industry found Arab oil money to sponsor a five-million-dollar Thoroughbred race in Dubai, making that the highest purse in the world for any kind of horse race.
Nevertheless, the All-American Futurity in Ruidoso, New Mexico, and the Los Alamitos Futurity in Los Alamitos, California, are offering the second-highest purses in the horse racing world, with two million dollars up for grabs in each of these famous Quarter Horse racing events.
In 2007, a total of 123 million dollars (!) was awarded at Quarter Horse racing tracks, which had over 16,600 starters vying for that money.
As one might imagine, short races are quite different from the long distance races as found in the Thoroughbred world. Within a couple of jumps the Quarter Horses are a top speed, thundering down the track faster than any other horse in the world. The best run the quarter mile was in about 20 seconds.
As one old jester once said, You miss the whole race if you happened to blink your eyes at that moment! But it is an incredible, breathtakingly exciting experience to watch Quarter Horse racing events!
In the old days, Quarter running horses were classified A, AA, AAA, according to their exploits on the tracks, with AAA denoting the fastest horses. Nowadays, a speed index system is in place. For example, a horse running the quarter mile in 22.05 seconds is rated with a speed index of 100 very few are faster than that!
Offshoots of the Quarter Horse, especially the American Paint Horse but also American Appaloosa Horses if they are predominantly Quarter Horse-bred, excel at these short races as well. A Paint Horse ran a track record for all breeds over 350 yards in 2005 at Fair Meadows Park in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
These horses have a lot of Thoroughbred blood in their veins, but evidently, there is still that Quarter Horse heritage very much at work, making them the world’s fastest over short distances, and the fastest regarding absolute speed.
Photos: Photo at the top of the page and 1) above, depicting Quarter Horse Racing are courtesy of American Quarter Horse Association. 2) American Paint quarter racing photo is courtesy of American Paint Horse Association. 3) Appaloosa quarter racing photo is courtesy of Appaloosa Horse Club, Inc.
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