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The Original Racehorse – Arabian Horse Racing
 By mosquito   •   16th Jul 2010   •   6,800 views   •   6 comments
Most people think of thoroughbreds when they think of horse racing – but every thoroughbred can trace its ancestry back to at least one Arabian. And other breeds race – quarter horses, standardbreds – so why not Arabians? Well, Arabians do race, but Arabian horse racing has had its ups and downs.

The Original Racehorse – Arabian Horse RacingArabian racing began in an organized way in the US in the late 1950s, and it was popular among Arabian enthusiasts. During the late 70s and 80s it really took off, helped out by some spectacular horses like the great Samtyr, who really gave the sport some characters to follow. It was difficult for Arabian racing to get recognition at major tracks though, since the Arabians simply weren’t as fast at Thoroughbreds, and while spectacular to watch with their flow manes and tails, much Arabian racing was limited to exhibition races of low-level events at fairs.

At the peak of Arabian racing’s popularity, in the mid 80s, the Arabian Jockey Club was formed. This was partly because one reason Arabians were finding it hard to get noticed by big tracks was that many track goers found their races difficult to wager on, so betting revenues were lower and not economical for tracks. The Arabian Jockey Club worked to increase the number of horses racing, and the awareness of these horses among racegoers, but sadly they seemed to be fighting a losing battle.

But why would this be? Arabians were always bred to be fast, and to have extraordinary endurance. They were popular as foundation breeding horses, to add quality, speed and intelligence to other breeds, and they certainly found their place in the show ring. Arabians were definitely popular – in the mid 80s prices for top Arabian show horses and breeding stock were rivaling that of thoroughbred racehorses. Sadly, nothing seemed to work to stop the decline of Arabian racing – until recently.

The Original Racehorse – Arabian Horse RacingIn the mid 90s, the Arabian Jockey Club really got going and Arabian racing is making a big comeback. New prizes like the Darley Awards and the Arabian Cup championship were brought in just like the Breeders’ Cup and Eclipse Awards for Thoroughbreds. Bigger prize money, and incentives and excellent support for new owners encouraged many to get involved – often owners who couldn’t afford to compete in thoroughbred racing but still wanted to be part of racing. Now five states have tracks with dedicated Arabian meets, and Arabian racing is taking off in nearly thirty countries around the world – prize money in England and Dubai for big stakes races is reaching record levels, although it still doesn’t compare with that for thoroughbreds.

So what’s Arabian racing really like? First of all, races are generally for purebred Arabians only, and among the purebreds certain strains seem to be faster. Old English lines, Polish Arabians, and Russian Arabians are among the most popular – although some claim that Polish and Russian Arabs are faster because of some unscrupulous breeding practices in the past that may mean there are some thoroughbreds hiding in these ‘purebred’ pedigrees. That may be true, but it would be so long ago now that there’s no doubt that these horses are very much Arabians.

Arabians race most on dirt and turf (but don’t race over jumps), and over distances from as short as 4 and a half furlongs all the way up to 1 ¾ miles, although most races are 6 furlongs to a mile. How fast are the Arabians? Well, the US record for 6 furlongs is 1:16, compared to 1:06 for thoroughbreds. Over a mile, the Arabian record is 1:45, the thoroughbred record is 1:32. It may not sound like much, but every second equals roughly 5 lengths! They wear silks like other racehorses, and many thoroughbred jockeys also ride Arabians from time to time.

While the Arabians may not be as fast as thoroughbreds, they are just as spectacular to watch. Their higher head carriage, long manes and tails, and wider variety of colors (there are many more grays among Arabian racers than thoroughbreds) makes for a beautiful sight. And if you really want to get into racing, but can’t afford to buy and keep a thoroughbred, or want to work with a smaller horse as a jockey or trainer, then Arabians may be for you.

Interestingly, there are comparably more women jockeys and trainers in Arabian racing than thoroughbreds!

Want to know more? Visit:
www.ifahr.net
www.arabianracing.org
The Original Racehorse – Arabian Horse Racing
The Original Racehorse – Arabian Horse Racing
The Original Racehorse – Arabian Horse Racing
The Original Racehorse – Arabian Horse Racing
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