What is a Horse Race?

A horse race is a competition in which horses are bet on to win by a person or organization. The odds are based on the amount of money bet on each horse to win and change every 30-60 seconds as new wagers are placed. The horse with the most money bet on it is deemed the favorite and the horse with the least is considered a longshot. If two horses cross the finish line together and it is impossible to determine who won, a photo finish is declared. The photo is studied by the stewards to see who came first and this horse is declared the winner. The stewards also review the race for any rules infractions and saliva and urine samples are taken from each horse to test for prohibited drugs. The winning horse may then be awarded a prize depending on the outcome of the photo.

A jockey, or rider, is the person who mounts and steers a horse during a race. A jockey must be qualified by a racetrack to receive a jockey’s license and pass an examination. Once licensed, the jockey may then enter the paddock area where he/she will receive instructions from his or her trainer. Then the horse will be saddled and paraded past the stewards. Once the stewards approve the horses to begin the race, the official tote board will display the current odds. After the race, the jockeys will weigh in and check for weight violations and the judges will examine saliva and urine samples from the winners. The results of the race will be posted once all the races are complete and if any infractions are discovered.

The horse racing world can be divided essentially into three categories; the cheaters, those who are ignorant of their wrongdoing and the far-too-silent majority. It is from this third group that serious reform must come if the sport of horse racing is to survive and thrive.

There are many reasons why horse racing is struggling; a general disinterest in gambling, younger people turning away from the sport and scandals related to safety and doping. But, perhaps the most damaging factor is a lack of understanding about what horse racing really is; a for-profit business that exploits animals. The deaths of Eight Belles, Medina Spirit, Keepthename and Creative Plan are just a few examples of this exploitation. It is a tragedy that we can watch these young, talented and innocent racehorses die catastrophically in the name of profit and then move on with a pang of guilt. They, like the thousands of others who have died in this manner, deserve more from us and from the for-profit industry that created them. This would involve a deep ideological reckoning at the macro level of the business and industry and within the minds of horsemen and women. But it can be done – and it must be done if the sport of horse racing is to prosper.