What is a Horse Race?
A horse race is a sport in which people wager on the outcome of a contest between horses. The game is played on a track, and the participants bet with money or credit. In the United States, a horse race is called a derby or a stakes race. In Britain, it is often referred to as a handicap race. In these races, each horse is allocated a weight to carry based on its official handicap rating. The goal is to provide equal opportunity for each competitor by making the best horses win the most money.
The sport of horse racing has a long tradition of scandal and corruption. It is rife with crooks who dangerously drug their animals and dare the industry to catch them. It is also populated by dupes who labor under the illusion that the industry is broadly fair and honest. Finally, there are those in the middle—not naive nor cheaters, but honorable souls who know that horse racing is more crooked than it ought to be, and don’t do everything they can to fix it.
This week, a video leaked from the track at Santa Anita shows some of what those in the middle have known for years: a lot of the top trainers and jockeys at America’s finest tracks are not only bad at their jobs but also blatantly cruel to their animals. As much as the improvement in medical treatment and technology has improved the lives of horses, it has done little to change the innate nature of this sport.
Despite the best efforts of stewards to control the sport, there are still a number of horses who get injured or die on the track. Those who survive are pushed to the limit by their handlers and trainers, and are often exposed to the elements.
These conditions are even more hazardous for older, less athletic horses. They may become arthritic and have trouble moving, especially if they are forced to run on a surface that is not ideal for their skeletal structures. It is a brutal sport for these creatures, and one that should be abolished.
The term “horse race” comes from the sport’s early days in England, when the races were held on a flat (unbanked) track that ran around Newmarket, which is still known as Headquarters. In those days, the races were standardized to include six-year-olds carrying 168 pounds in 4-mile heats, with two wins required to be declared the winner.