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Horse Racing

​The Bureau of County Fairs & Horse Racing oversees the state's horse breeding programs. The Bureau works with the breeding industry to register mares and foals, certify stallions and promulgate racing rules. The Bureau also works with horsemen associations, county fairs, and racetracks to promote and schedule races restricted to Illinois-bred horses.

Harness racing is a form of horse racing in which the horse races at a specific gait (a trot or a pace) and pulls a two-wheeled cart called a sulky. The name Standardbred originated in the early development of the breed, when horses were registered if they could meet certain standards of speed, such as trotting a mile in 2 1/2 minutes. Developed in North America, the breed can trace its bloodlines to 18th-century England. It was known as the “sport of the people” because anyone could compete with any kind of horse, as long as the horse could trot a mile in a set standard of time.

A horse breed primarily bred for racing under saddle at the gallop. Although the word thoroughbred is sometimes used to refer to any breed of purebred horse, it technically refers only to the Thoroughbred breed. While thoroughbreds are used mainly for racing, where it’s known as the “sport of kings”, they are also bred for other riding disciplines such as show jumping, dressage, polo, and fox hunting. The origin of the Thoroughbred, may be traced back to records indicating that a stock of Arab and Barb (Barbary) horses was introduced into England as early as the 3rd century.

Long recognized as a distinct type, quarter horses are known for their ability to start quickly and sprint swiftly. The breed originated in Virginia from a Thoroughbred stallion, Janus, and native mares. Quarter-horse racing was begun by the early settlers in Virginia shortly after Jamestown was established in 1607. Traditionally the course was a quarter of a mile, hence the name, using whatever pathways were available or could be cut through the forests, and later a street of a settlement. Organized quarter-horse racing began in the 1940s.

Laws & Regulation