What is a Horse Race?

horse race

A horse race is a contest of speed among horses that are either ridden by jockeys or pulled by sulkies and their drivers. The winner of the horse race is awarded a prize. Depending on the type of race, the prize money may be distributed to the first, second and third place finishers. The horse races that are held today are a result of the evolution of horse breeding and training techniques that have been practiced since ancient times. The earliest horse races were match races between two or at most three horses, with the owners providing the purse. Bettors placed a bet that the horses would win or lose, and if an owner withdrew his horse from the race, he forfeited half the purse and the bets. The matches were recorded by disinterested third parties who became known as keepers of the match book.

In the modern horse race, a bet is made on a single horse to win, or on a group of horses to place. The horse or horses must follow a predetermined course, jump any hurdles (if present) and cross the finish line in order to win. The horse that wins the race receives the most prize money, while the second and third place finishers get less. A bet on a whole field of horses to place is also called betting to show.

The majority of horse races in the United States are handicapped, meaning that the weights of the horses are adjusted for different abilities. The horses that are given the smallest weights are referred to as the bottomweights, while those with the highest weight are considered the topweights. There are also a number of other terms used in horse racing, such as:

While some of those who work in the horse racing industry are crooks who dangerously drug their horses and who countenance such behavior by their agents, there are also many honorable people who work in the business who realize that it is a shady game but still fail to do what is necessary to change it. The shady nature of the horse racing industry is what has fueled the growth of animal rights organizations that focus on issues such as abusive training practices, drug use and the transport of horses to foreign slaughterhouses. The growing awareness of these dark sides to horse racing has accelerated the pace at which improvements are being made in the sport. It is these improvements that are helping to propel horse racing into a new era.