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What is a Horse Race?

horse race

A horse race is a competition in which horses are ridden by jockeys over a specific course. The winner of the race is determined by the first horse to cross the finish line. There are several different kinds of horse races, including those held in the United States and Europe. The most famous horse race in the world is the Palio di Siena, a medieval horse race that has been around for centuries.

Originally, horse racing was match contests between two or at most three horses. The owners of each race provided the purse, a simple wager, and any owner who withdrew forfeited half or, later, the entire purse. Keeping records of such agreements was the responsibility of disinterested third parties, who came to be known as keepers of the match book. In England John Cheny began publishing An Historical List of All Horse-Matches Run (1729). This work was consolidated in Newmarket by James Weatherby, who established An Annual Calendar of All the Races at Newmarket (1773).

Today’s thoroughbred horse races are much longer and involve more horses. The horse’s speed and stamina are emphasized. To achieve these results, a large, mature horse is preferred; and a high degree of physical fitness is required. The use of steroid drugs is common to encourage the horse’s speed, and the drug Lasix is also used to prevent exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage, in which horses bleed from their lungs during or after a race.

The track used for a horse race varies, but many have dirt surfaces with a slight incline. The starting gate is usually electrically operated and is situated at the top of a slope that rises slightly from the track’s infield. At the start of a race, stewards and patrol judges, aided by a motion-picture camera, look for rule violations. The finishing results are not announced until all stewards, patrol judges and the teleprompter operator have verified that the winner has crossed the finish line. The winning horse is then awarded a prize, often a hat or ribbon.

Throughout the race, a steward or patrol judge inspects the condition of each horse. The steward or patrol judge may request that the horse be pulled up or otherwise disqualified if he believes the animal is not in good shape. Saliva and urine samples are also collected from the horses to test for banned substances.

While the sport of horse racing is portrayed as a glamorous, prestigious activity by its backers, it’s a shadowy industry filled with drug abuse and cruelty to horses. Injuries and breakdowns are all too common, and a great number of the horses who make it to the racetrack will be killed. The organization PETA says ten thousand American Thoroughbreds are slaughtered each year. Behind the romanticized facade of horse racing is a world of injuries, broken bones, solitary confinement and death.