A horse race is a competition in which horses run for victory, and bettors place wagers on their chances of winning. Prize money is awarded to the winner, second, and third place finishers, with additional prizes being given to the horses that win accumulator bets. Betting is done both in-person and online, and the sport is popular in several countries around the world.
The sport is regulated by a series of rules established by the Jockey Club. The rules stipulate the ages, sexes, and birthplaces of horses that can be entered in the races and the qualifications of riders. The Jockey Club also imposes a minimum weight that each horse must carry, which is designed to ensure fairness.
As a result of the heightened popularity of the sport, there are now dozens of races held each week around the world. The most famous are the Triple Crown events of the Belmont Stakes, Preakness Stakes, and Kentucky Derby, which have become synonymous with American horse racing. The Triple Crown was first introduced in 1867 and is now an international series of elite races. Its success has led to the establishment of similar races in many other nations.
Although the popularity of horse racing continues to grow, some people are still skeptical about the safety and ethics of the sport. The horses used for racing are forced to sprint—often with the help of whips—at speeds that can cause serious injuries, including hemorrhage from the lungs. Those who oppose the sport argue that the animals do not enjoy racing, and are subjected to a great deal of pain and suffering for the sake of human entertainment.
In the backstretch of the muddy track, War of Will took the lead as the pack approached the clubhouse turn. He was followed by Mongolian Groom and McKinzie, the three best three-year-olds in America that year.
The horses had been injected with Lasix that morning, a diuretic marked on the racing form with a boldface “L.” The drug prevents pulmonary bleeding that can occur when a horse runs hard for long distances. Almost all thoroughbreds bleed during a race, but only a small minority are serious bleeders.
The horses ran through mud and dirt as they galloped across the wide, oval track. They gave their lower legs a terrible pounding, straining ligaments, tendons, and joints. Then, with the stewards examining their snapshot of the finish line, one horse crossed the finish line ahead of the others, and the race was declared a photo finish. In the early days of racing, most prestigious flat races were run over four miles, and a few over six or seven. The current range of flat races varies between two and five miles, with most being seen as tests of speed rather than stamina. However, the escalating costs of breeding and sale prices have led to fewer races being held with horses beyond age four. This trend is expected to continue.