Horse race is a form of gambling in which people place bets on which horse will win a particular race. The bets are placed at various bookmakers around the world and they can also be placed online. There are a variety of different bet types that can be made including single bets, accumulator bets and more. Some of these bets are available to place for free, while others require a small fee.
Horse races have changed over the centuries, but their basic concept remains the same: horses compete in a contest of speed or stamina that determines the winner. As the sport has evolved from a diversion for leisure-class patrons to a global entertainment industry, it has become increasingly sophisticated and technologically advanced. Now horse racing is a high-tech affair, with swaths of data being fed into computers to inform decisions on the track and an arsenal of electronic monitoring devices used by veterinarians to keep horses healthy.
The most prestigious flat races in the world, such as the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and the Melbourne Cup, take place over distances that are midway between those of sprint races and long-distance endurance tests. In general, the best racing horses are bred to exhibit a combination of both speed and stamina. While the huge breeding program of thoroughbreds has arguably produced some improvement in winning times, it is clear that there is no simple explanation for this; the inherent physical abilities of racing horses as a species have not changed over time (Gaffney and Cunningham 1988).
Behind the romanticized facade of Thoroughbred horse racing lies a world of injuries, drug abuse, gruesome breakdowns, and slaughter. While spectators wear fancy clothes and sip mint juleps, the animals are forced to run—often under the threat of whips and illegal electric-shocking devices—at speeds that cause serious injury and even hemorrhage from the lungs.
A horse’s skeletal system is still growing, which makes it unprepared to deal with the stresses of racing. This is one reason why the sport has been plagued by problems such as splint and cast injuries, which are caused when a horse’s bones are crushed while running over rough ground. Improvements in medical treatment and technology have done little to mitigate this, and new would-be fans are turned off by the constant gloomy headlines of doping scandals and safety issues.
The earliest recorded races were match races between two or at most three horses, with owners offering a purse and bettors wagering on the winner. Typically, an owner who withdrew forfeited half the purse or, later, the whole prize money. The first record of these matches was the “keepers’ book” at Newmarket in England, a compilation of results from local tracks begun by John Cheny in 1729. Then, in the mid-1800s, James Weatherby began compiling an annual list of all the races run. This became the modern-day British Racing Calendar, now known as The Times Racing Calendar.