© Musée du cheval de Chantilly

Mechanical horse race, period of Napoleon III

The craze for racing starting in the late 18th century fostered the emergence in the 19th century of casino games focusing on races. The period saw the flowering of gambling houses all over Europe, with almost every room reserved for to the "little horses", ranging from multi-track mechanical horse races, games of bowls... Caro and Jost were at that time the two main manufacturers on the market.

The multi-track mechanical horse race, like the one presented here, enabled players to make bets between one another. By turning a crank, the horses moved around mechanically. At the stop of the mechanism, the horse closest to the winning post won the race.