A horse race is a competitive sport where horses and their jockeys compete for prize money. The contestants must follow the rules of a specific race and complete the course in a certain amount of time. The race may also include obstacles such as hurdles and other objects that the animals must jump over or around. The horse that crosses the finish line first is declared the winner and awarded the prize. The runner-up is usually awarded a smaller sum of money. Prizes are sometimes given to the third place finisher. The race is generally watched by a large audience of spectators.
The sport has had its ups and downs since it first became popular in the United States after World War II. While it once ranked among the top five spectator sports, it has since declined in popularity. One of the reasons for this decline is that horse racing failed to take advantage of television, which has become a major factor in sports entertainment. Another reason is that horse racing relies heavily on wealthy patrons who are often out of touch with mainstream American society.
During a horse race, the jockeys must be in constant contact with their horses and keep them under control. They do this by using a whip, which they can wave to signal their intent to pass other competitors. They also use a variety of other tools to encourage their mounts to run faster. These include tongue ties, which restrict the movement of the horse’s tongue, and spurs, which exert sharp pressure on the horse’s back. Both equipment can cause significant discomfort and pain for the horses, and the RSPCA opposes their use on racehorses. The use of jiggers, a battery-powered device that delivers an electric shock to the animal when attached to the horse’s body, is also prohibited by racing authorities.
The horses in a horse race are typically very thirsty. This is because they have been injected with Lasix, a diuretic drug that is noted on the racing form. The medication prevents pulmonary bleeding, which can be caused by hard running. The drug is used by a large number of racehorses, and it is also banned in many countries.
Critics of horse-race journalism argue that it trivializes politics by reducing it to a spectacle in which beautiful women are the main attraction (Littlewood 1999). Using this metaphor, journalists often concentrate on the frontrunners in a campaign rather than reporting on differences on issues of substance. This can lead to a focus on the candidates’ charisma and appearance, and neglects to address important differences in their political philosophy and policy positions. Moreover, the horse-race metaphor can promote partisanship and stifle a democratic debate on issues of importance. For these reasons, the horse-race metaphor has come under criticism from both left and right of the political spectrum. Nevertheless, it remains an influential part of American culture and media.