The age of a race horse is very critical in determining the physical capabilities of the horse. As such, the type of race they are running would depend on their age as well. Race horses typically have the same birthday in the year. That is, two horses born on the same year but different months are considered to be of the same age. In the Northern Hemisphere, the birth date of a race horse is considered to be the 1st of January. In the Southern Hemisphere, the birth date of a race horse is designated as the 1st of August.
Horses that are meant for racing do not see action until they are at least 2 years old. As a matter of fact, at this age, horses are still considered to be immature. That is, they have not reached their potential yet and their physical capabilities have a stretch to improve as of yet. Therefore, horses which are 2 years of age are only raced for short distances. More so, horses at this age are only raced against each other. That is, they are not entered into races with horses of other ages. Despite the fact that 2 year old horses are considered to be at less than their full potential, there are some big horse races for their age group. Some of them are The Golden Slipper, the Dewhurst Stakes, the Breeder’s Juvenile and the Blue Diamond Stakes.
At the age of three, horses are still not considered to have reached their potential but they are now allowed to compete with horses beyond their age group. In order top run at some of the most popular horse races, a horse has to be at least 3 years old. The Derby, The Oaks, The Guineas and the St Leger are some of these classic races.
Male horses that are 3 years old and below are called colts while females are called fillies. If a male has been desexed it is called a gelding. When a horse turns four, he cannot enter the age restricted races anymore. Males are then called horses while females are called mares.
A horse can retire from racing anytime, especially if it has become injured. This can occur when a horse is at any age. Due to the physical rigors of racing, a horse cannot stay in the action for far too long.