The horse race is a game in which players place wagers on the outcome of a specific race. While betting on a winning horse is the most popular way to gamble, there are other ways to participate, including placing bets on a ‘show’ or a ‘place’ finish.
Historically, horses have been used in battle, hunting and transportation. They are the primary mode of transportation for many people living in rural America, and horse racing is a huge industry in the United States.
Horses have been trained and bred for racing since the early 1700s, when colonists brought a few horses with them from England. Initially, races were match races between two horses over four-mile heats. By 1840, there were sixty-three horse racing tracks in the United States.
In the 1860s, Thoroughbred racing became more popular. The Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes were formed, forming the Triple Crown series of races. Winning the races at their different distances—a mile and a quarter (Derby), a mile and three-sixteenths (Preakness) and a mile and a half (Belmont)—has been extremely difficult for any horse.
Today, horse racing faces a number of challenges. The sport is losing market share to professional and collegiate team sports, which compete with it for spectators’ attention. In addition, horse racing has not embraced television as other sports have, and many of its patrons are older, retired men.
Despite its romanticized facade of elegant outfits and mint juleps, the horse race is a world of injuries and drug abuse. Many horses are pushed beyond their limits and subjected to cocktails of legal and illegal drugs designed to mask their injuries and boost their performance. The result is often a breakdown, or more dangerously, hemorrhage from the lungs (exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage).
The horse race has become one of the most expensive and dangerous spectator sports in the world. Even though there are several governmental regulations to protect the safety and well-being of racehorses, it is still a dangerous sport. Horses are forced to run at exorbitant speeds and endure extreme physical stress, which can cause heart attacks and broken limbs. They are confined in tight spaces for long periods of time and are often subjected to whipping and electric shocks. Even if they are not injured, the daily stresses of the race can lead to serious mental and psychological problems. Horses also face a great risk of being hit by trucks or vans as they are transported to and from the track. Fortunately, the horse industry has recently begun to make progress in its efforts to improve animal welfare. However, more needs to be done.