RACING REACHED GREAT POPULARITY BY THE 1700S
The population of Williamsburg, Virginia tripled during race week. Students at the College of William and Mary were prohibited from keeping race horses “under Pain of ye severest Animadversion and Punishment.” Even the small colony of Maryland maintained some 20 racing centers before the Revolution. At the beginning of the Revolution, colonists were admonished to turn their attention from horse racing and to the matter of America’s political future.
In the 1700s, Virginia Emerged as the Pre-eminent Horse Breeding Area
In 1765, a British officer noted that “there are established races annually at almost every town and considerable place in Virginia…Very capital horses are started here, such as would make no despicable figure at Newmarket.” To supply the horses demanded for quality racing, a breeding industry steadily grew in Virginia. By the time of the Revolution, there were 27 important stud farms in the vicinity of the James, York, Rappahanock, and Potomac rivers.