A horse race is an event in which horses compete for prizes or points. Purses are often given to the winners of specific races, but some larger events also offer purses for the entire field.
Prizes in horse racing vary by event, from the $1000 winner’s check of the Kentucky Derby to the millions of dollars that come with the running of the Melbourne Cup and the Durban July. But one thing remains the same in every race: the ability of the rider to pace his horse effectively.
It’s an art form that relies on centuries of experience, data from previous races and intuition to plan the course of a race. The jockey or trainer must decide which of his or her horses can sprint and which will run a marathon, and how to pace them in the right order to maximize their chances of winning.
Unlike other sporting events, in which the prize money is based on a specific percentage of total entry fees or claiming money, racing is based on a set amount of each horse’s earnings. A runner who wins a certain amount of money is called a “winner,” and one who finishes in the top five or ten is a “placer.”
The most valuable races are those that award the highest purses, which are typically set by the owners of the winning horses. The richest American race is the Triple Crown, with a purse worth more than $1.3 million.
A horse’s performance is a result of many factors, including how well it’s trained and the amount of exercise it receives before a race. The sex of a horse, its age, its birthplace and its previous performances can all affect the way it performs.
It can also be affected by its diet and the amount of water it drinks. If a horse is too heavy or overweight, it may not be able to perform as well.
The equine industry is in the midst of a major overhaul, with a new government agency, the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA), creating rules that will limit the use of banned substances, including Lasix, a diuretic that causes the horse to urinate more often and lose fluids. The new authority will begin by prohibiting its use on race day but allowing tracks to apply for an exemption.
Some of the biggest challenges that HISA will face are finding a way to keep track of which of its members’ horses are using banned medications and how many drugs are being used by them. The new agency’s president, Karen Lazarus, said the safety authority will try to make its policies transparent and rigorous.
Ultimately, she says the new agency hopes to gain the trust of those in the horse racing industry and the public. It will need to develop a system that is effective and practical, and that is fair to horses as well as to people who are betting on them.