What is a Horse Race?

A horse race is a contest of speed among horses that either are ridden by jockeys or pull sulkies and their drivers. This sport is one of the oldest in the world and has a long and distinguished history that includes participation in ancient Greece, Rome, Babylon, Syria, Egypt, and other civilizations. It has also been a central part of mythology, such as the battle between Odin’s steed Hrungnir and the giant Ymir in Norse legend.

In recent years, technological advances have greatly impacted horse racing. While the sport retains most of its traditional rules, regulations and traditions, it has embraced technology to increase safety on and off the racetrack. From thermal imaging cameras to MRI scanners and 3D printing, horse racing is now better equipped than ever to diagnose injuries and provide the appropriate treatment.

This increased focus on horse safety has helped to reduce the number of horses injured and killed in races. However, a growing awareness of the dark side of the sport continues to put pressure on the industry. The 2008 deaths of Eight Belles and Medina Spirit, two stars of the Kentucky Derby, sparked a reckoning of the sport’s ethics and integrity.

Behind the romanticized facade of Thoroughbred horse racing lies a world of injuries, drug abuse, and gruesome breakdowns. Horses are forced to sprint-often while being subjected to whips and illegal electric shock devices-at speeds so high that they frequently suffer injuries, including pulmonary hemorrhage. Those who cannot continue to compete are discarded and often sent to slaughter in Mexico or Canada, where they are often mistreated and murdered while being bled dry.

Most horses are injected with Lasix, a diuretic, on race day to decrease exercise-induced pulmonary bleeding. Although this is a necessary step to keep the horses safe, it has many other side effects. It causes the horse to unload epic amounts of urine-twenty or thirty pounds a race-and makes them look like they’re covered in blood, which can actually be dangerous for the horses and the jockeys.

Many horses who are not able to compete at higher levels of competition are run in claiming races. This provides them with a level of “class relief,” which can lead to reward (wins) and confidence-building, but also exposes them to the risk of being claimed by other owners. These types of races help to maintain an even playing field and the integrity of the game as wagering on races would be infeasible if one horse was much faster than the rest.