A horse race is a competition in which horses run against each other at a set distance on a designated track. The winner is the first to cross the finish line. The race can be a flat race, a steeplechase, or an endurance event. The sport has a long history and is practiced all over the world. It is an international sport and is regulated by national and regional racing authorities. The sport is also part of the cultural heritage of many countries and plays a major role in mythology, as well as being an important element of the Olympic Games.
Behind the romanticized facade of Thoroughbred horse racing, a nightmare of drugs and injuries and gruesome breakdowns looms. Horses are bred for the track and forced to sprint, often while injured, under the threat of whips and illegal electric-shocking devices, at speeds that can cause them to hemorrhage from their lungs. The abysmal conditions and cruelty in horse racing are exacerbated by a lack of proper funding for wraparound aftercare for all retired horses, which means they are often left to their own devices with no place to go once they leave the track. Only a handful of independent, nonprofit rescues and individual horsemen are able to network, fundraise and work tirelessly to save these horses from slaughter.
There are three types of people in horse racing: the crooks who dangerously drug their horses and the dupes who labor under the fantasy that the industry is broadly fair and honest. There are also the masses in the middle, honorable souls who know that the industry is crooked and corrupt but don’t do enough to fix it.
Inflated purses and a reliance on taxpayer money for casino cash encourage horsemen to push their horses past their limits, with a strong incentive to win. As a result, the classic age of three years is now rarely seen in races. The most prestigious races include the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Melbourne and Sydney Cups in Australia, the Caulfield Cup and Japan Cup in England, the Durban July in South Africa, and the Gran Premio Carlos Pellegrini in Argentina.
A horse’s performance in a race can be influenced by its age, gender (female horses have lower weight allowances than males), barrier position and training. But the most significant influencing factor is the quality of the race and the strength of the opposition. The more competitive the race, the higher the prize money.