What You Need to Know Before You Bet on a Horse Race
Horse racing is an international sport involving horses that has been practiced throughout history. It is played on tracks of all sizes, both flat and over jumps, and it varies across different countries. The sport is regulated by governing bodies in each country, and it can be a lucrative business for bookmakers.
There are two main types of races: handicaps and classics. Handicaps are held at smaller tracks and usually have a lower purse than the classics, but they are considered to be prestigious and attract high-quality horses. Examples of notable handicap races are the Melbourne Cup, the Grand National in the United Kingdom, and the Suburban Handicap at Santa Anita in California.
Classics are the highest-paying and most competitive races in the world, with purses as high as millions of dollars. The oldest and most famous of these races are the Kentucky Derby, the Breeders’ Cup, and the Triple Crown, all run in America.
While horses do most of the work in a race, it is the jockey who guides them and helps them to get into position for each lap. They also have to give the horse instructions, encourage them to maintain their speed, and praise them when they do well.
Many horses are bred for racing, but not all. Some are bred for other purposes such as racing in dressage or jumping.
Some of the best race horses are born at a young age, typically three years or less. Increasing breeder fees, sale prices, and purses have made these animals more valuable and led to fewer races that accept horses older than four years.
Despite improvements in breeding, training, and veterinary care, the cruelty of horse racing continues to be widespread. In addition to overbreeding and slaughter, many racehorses suffer gruesome injuries, drug abuse, and breakdowns while working.
Performance-enhancing drugs have been used in horse racing for centuries. Ancient Romans and early English horses were known to have injected hydromel, a solution that increases endurance. But the modern use of powerful painkillers, anti-inflammatories, and other medications has complicated racing’s doping picture.
A number of drugs have been banned for use in racing, and the punishments for violating these rules are stiff. But the industry has often operated under a patchwork system of rules that vary by jurisdiction, and it has been difficult for regulating bodies to keep track of these drugs.
The use of cocaine and heroin in horse racing is a common example. The drugs have been banned in the US since 1972, but they are still widely used in British and Irish racing.
Some trainers give their horses too many performance-enhancing drugs, especially when they are young. The drugs can affect their heart, liver, and lungs.
They can also cause side effects, such as dizziness or drowsiness. In extreme cases, a horse can die of overdose.
In recent years, the sport of horse racing has been experiencing serious problems, with a shrinking fan base, declining revenue, and a growing concern about animal welfare. With increasing awareness of the dark side of horse racing, it is expected that the industry will face pressure to improve its standards. PETA has been working hard to make a difference and will continue to do so until the industry’s plight is resolved.