What is a Horse Race?

A horse race is a competition in which horses compete over varying distances. Most races in the United States are run over 1 1/4 miles (2 kilometers), while European and other international races may be longer, with distances depending on custom, terrain, and type of race. A horse’s speed and stamina are both considered important in determining the outcome of a race, though the emphasis is generally placed more on speed than on endurance. The sport is derived from the equestrian discipline of jumping, and it dates back to ancient times when Greek author Xenophon described contests over natural obstacles such as church steeples.

The most famous horse race is the Kentucky Derby, which is held each year at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. The Derby is one of the most popular and prestigious races in all of horse racing, and it’s also the most expensive race in North America. The Derby is a two-and-a-half mile race, and it’s the longest of all thoroughbred horse races.

Despite a romanticized facade, behind the world of thoroughbred horse racing lies one of injuries, drug abuse, gruesome breakdowns, and slaughter. These animals, who weigh more than 1,000 pounds and have ankles the size of a human’s, are whipped and forced to sprint around tracks made of hard-packed dirt at speeds that often exceed 30 miles per hour. They are victims of a multibillion-dollar industry that is rife with cruelty, and many of them end up dead or in foreign slaughterhouses.

While the gruesome deaths of thirty horses at Santa Anita led to some safety reforms, the vast majority of racing injuries go unreported. Most horse owners do not want to publicize the bad news, so when a jockey is injured or a horse breaks down on the track, they typically cover up the incident. Injuries like strained tendons or hairline fractures are hard to diagnose, and the damage often worsens after the horse is exercised again, which means that trainers will keep the animal racing even when they know it isn’t healthy for them.

The Times’ article and the video upon which it is based are a wake-up call to anyone who cares about the fate of horse racing, whether you enjoy betting on it or not. Racing insiders may hate PETA, but it is a mistake to confuse hostility to the organization with dismissal of its work. Virtually no one outside the industry cares how PETA gets its undercover video, and most of them just want to see it ended.

Comments are closed.