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In horse racing, a maiden race is a race confined to horses that have not yet won a race and are known as maidens. Maiden races are run over a range of distances and eligibility is based on age and sex.
A maiden is the starting point for horses that race on flat courses and some races are for two-year-olds only, which is the age at which flat horses begin their career – although some don’t race until an older age.
Flat racing is structured around a number of distinct types of race. The starting point for most horses is a maiden and as they get older and gain more experience, they graduate to handicaps, stakes races, Group races and ultimately the five Classics, which are the pinnacle of the sport. Horses must have not won a flat race at the time of the race but winners from jump racing can take part.
If a horse is unable to win a maiden amongst their own sex and age group they are unlikely to win races at a higher level. Maiden races are the lowest level for flat races and they are run throughout the flat season which goes from March to November. Claiming maiden races are designed for the possible sale of the winner after the race. Maiden races can be handicaps or weight-for-age races.
Maiden races attract he fields because the vast majority of horses trained in Britain do not win a race but many Classic winners have run in maidens.