The racing of horses in harness dates back to ancient times, but the sport virtually disappeared with the fall of the Roman
Empire. The history of modern HARNESS RACING begins in America, where racing trotting horses over country roads became a popular
rural pastime by the end of the 18th century. The first tracks for harness racing were constructed in the first decade of
the 19th century, and by 1825 harness racing was an institution at hundreds of country fairs across the nation.
Harness racing reached the early zenith of its popularity in the late 1800s, with the establishment of a Grand Circuit
of major fairs. The sport sharply declined in popularity after 1900, as the automobile replaced the horse and the United States
became more urbanized. In 1940, however, Roosevelt Raceway in New York introduced harness racing under the lights with pari-mutuel
betting. This innovation sparked a rebirth of harness racing, and today its number of tracks and number of annual races exceed
those of Thoroughbred racing. The sport is also popular in most European countries, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.