The running of the 135th Preakness Stakes in 2010.
photo by Sara K Joiner
Horse racing lends itself to classroom instruction. You have math. Have students calculate odds based on factors you provide. Or you could use past times in races to determine how fast a horse would run at various distances. Don't forget to calculate the average speed of the horse, too.
Science, another one of those STEAM topics, can also be taught through horse racing. First, you could cover the anatomy of a horse, and what you should look for if you were breeding race horses. Genetics comes into play here. Even geology and weather can be discussed. How do grass race tracks differ from dirt? What if it's raining?
Don't forget art. Those jockey's silks don't design themselves. Let students create their own silks and explain why they came up with that design.
That's quite a bit of learning for one two-minute horse race!
But this is an historical fiction blog, so naturally, I have some suggestions for historical fiction books about horse racing.
Gabriel's Horses by Alison Hart is set in Civil War Kentucky where a young slave dreams of becoming a jockey. When his horse-trainer father joins the Union Army, Gabriel must protect himself and the horses he loves from a cruel white trainer. This is the first book in the Racing to Freedom trilogy.
Deborah Savage's To Race a Dream is about a girl who moves to Minnesota in 1906 and discovers she lives next door to Dan Patch, the fastest horse in the world. After spending time with the famous race horse, Theodora must find the courage to become a jockey at a time when only boys could race.
The Charioteer of Delphi is part of Caroline Lawrence's wonderful Roman Mysteries series. A missing race horse leads Flavia and her friends into a mystery featuring sabotage, danger, and chariot racing.
Sara K Joiner is the author of After the Ashes. She is also a public librarian. She will be appearing on a panel at the Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con in June.