Horse racing is an equestrian performance sport, typically involving two or more horses ridden by jockeys (or sometimes driven without riders) over a set distance for competition. It is one of the most ancient of all sports, as its basic premise – to identify which of two or more horses is the fastest over a set course or distance – has been unchanged since at least classical antiquity.
Horse races vary widely in format and many countries have developed their own particular traditions around the sport. Variations include restricting races to particular breeds, running over obstacles, running over different distances, running on different track surfaces and running in different gaits.
The American Quarter Horse Association was born at a meeting in March, 1940, in Fort Worth. The original idea had come out of the articles published by Robert M. Denhardt during the 1930s about the history and characteristics of the quarter horse. In an article entitled "The Quarter Horse, Then and Now" in a 1939 Western Horseman magazine, Denhardt also suggested that those interested in forming a breed registry meet in Fort Worth to discuss the idea and hopefully act on the idea.
George Elsworth Smith (1862–1905) was an American gambler and Thoroughbred horse racing enthusiast who became a multi-millionaire during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Smith was given the nickname "Pittsburgh Phil" in 1885 by Chicago gambler William "Silver Bill" Riley to differentiate him from the other Smiths that also frequented Riley's pool halls.
Pittsburgh Phil is considered by many handicappers to have been an expert strategist, winning large sums of money at a time when racing statistic publications, such as The Daily Racing Form, were not widely available. At the time of his death from tuberculosis in 1905, he had amassed a fortune worth $3,250,000, which is comparable to over $76 million in 2009 $US. His racing Maxims, published posthumously in 1908, are considered to be the foundations of many modern handicapping strategies and formulas.
The track is named for John and Henry Churchill, who leased 80 acres (320,000 m²) of land to their nephew, Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr. (grandson of explorer William Clark). Clark was president of the Louisville Jockey Club and Driving Park Association, which formed in 1874. His father-in-law, Richard Ten Broeck, was an accomplished horse breeder and trainer, and introduced Clark to horse racing, attending the English Derby at Epsom Downs outside London. The twin spires atop the grandstands are the most recognizable architectural feature of Churchill Downs and are used as a symbol of the track and the Derby. They were designed by architect Joseph Dominic Baldez and built in 1895.
Popularly referred to as the "Arc", it is the most prestigious horse race in Europe, and one of the most renowned international events in any sport. Many of its winners are subsequently regarded as champions, and its roll of honour features such highly acclaimed horses as Ribot, Sea Bird, Dancing Brave and Sea The Stars. It is currently the world's second richest horse race on turf, after the Japan Cup.
A slogan of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, first used on a promotional poster in 2003, describes the event as "Ce n'est pas une course, c'est un monument" – "Not so much a race as a monument".