Horse racing is an ancient sport involving thoroughbred horses, a breed developed to be fast and agile. Its popularity has grown worldwide, making it a sport that attracts spectators and bettors alike. Betting on the outcome of a race is commonplace at all major horse races in Europe, Asia, and Australia. Bettors can place bets on a single horse or accumulator bets on multiple outcomes of a race, depending on their preference. The winner of a race is decided by studying a photograph taken at the end of a race and determining who crossed the finish line first. Different national horse racing organizations may have slightly different rules for how a race should be run, but by and large, they are all very similar.
The most important thing to remember about a horse race is that it is an unnatural act. Horses are not born to run and compete, and the way they play in an open field bears no resemblance to what they’re made to do at a racetrack. The industry’s claim that it’s a “sport of champions” is patently false. The truth is, it’s a game of cowards and cheaters, of people who willfully push their horses beyond their limits in order to win.
There are three kinds of people in horse racing: the crooks who dangerously drug their animals, the dupes who labor under the delusion that the sport is broadly fair and honest, and the honorable souls who know better but won’t give their all to fix the problems. The last group is where the most progress can be made, but it’s a small and silent minority.
Nick Alexander, a trainer who lost one of his horses at Santa Anita in 2019, was among them. He blamed the track’s surface, which he said had no spring to it. A horse’s leg works like a big spring, he explained; the flexor tendon on the back stretches and then rebounds, allowing the animal to travel far and fast.
He also pointed to the track’s low wages, which give trainers an incentive to force their horses to run faster than they should. And he pointed to the way in which most races are funded by taxpayer subsidies and casino money, a practice that gives a huge financial advantage to the wealthy owners who can afford the highest-priced horses.
The earliest recorded accounts of horse racing date back to the Greek Olympic Games in 700 to 40 B.C. During this time, riders were able to compete in chariot races and mounted bareback races. The earliest horse races in the United States were probably founded by New York City residents who began organizing races for their horses in the 1600s. In Europe, organized horse racing dates from the 1600s as well with events such as the Palio di Siena, a two-day event in which each rider represents one of seventeen Contrade, or city wards. It’s considered to be the oldest continuously held horse race in the world and is known for its magnificent pageantry.