A horse race is a contest of speed between horses that are ridden by jockeys or pulled by sulkies. The winners are awarded prize money. A horse race is usually held on a fenced oval course and is run at different distances. Some races are held for a specific breed of horse, such as the Irish Derby or American Derby. Others are open to any breed of horse. The first three finishers receive a share of the purse. Those who place fourth and fifth are also paid a share of the winnings.
A few decades ago, a horse race was one of the most popular spectator sports in America, but today it competes with major professional and collegiate team sports for fans’ attention. Many point to a mistake that racing leaders made after World War II by not embracing television in order to protect on-track attendance. The industry has since suffered a decline in popularity and revenue, as well as fewer race days.
In a horse race, jockeys must follow the prescribed course and jump all hurdles (if present). The winner is the first to cross the finish line on his or her horse. A wager may be placed on a horse to win, place, or show, and a bettors’ goal is to correctly predict which of the first, second, and third finishers will be in each position. A bettor is considered “in the money” if he or she wins more than the amount wagered on his or her picks.
The horse race is an important event in the life of a thoroughbred horse. It is a demanding and time-consuming sport for both horse and rider. The horse is forced to race at speeds that often cause serious injury, such as laminitis and pulmonary colic, as well as gruesome breakdowns. Moreover, the horses are subjected to brutal training practices and drug use and many end up in foreign slaughterhouses.
While some horse owners and trainers argue that their sport is a form of equestrian art, animal rights advocates have taken issue with horseracing’s image as a chivalric pageant. They are concerned about the exploitation of young horses, drug abuse in the industry, and the transport of injured or unruly horses to foreign slaughterhouses. They are also concerned about the lack of transparency and oversight in the industry. Nevertheless, the horse race has benefited from some improvement in horse welfare and safety. The new rules that came into effect this year — including improved post-race testing and medication controls — should help improve the situation. However, more work is needed to ensure that horse racing remains a popular sport.