Horse races are a popular form of entertainment for many people, but what many don’t realize is that there is a lot more behind the scenes than just horses running and spectators sipping mint juleps. In reality, horse racing is a world of drug abuse, injury, and even death for horses that are forced to sprint for a living. This is a sport that relies on the use of whips and electric shock devices to get these animals to run as fast as they can, sometimes with injuries such as exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage and blood loss in their lungs. In addition, these animals are often injected with cocktails of legal and illegal drugs designed to mask their injuries and artificially boost their performance.
In addition to the various race types, there are also a large number of terms that you should know if you plan on watching or betting on a horse race. Some of these are:
A horse is said to be “in the money” if it finishes in the top three places, meaning that it will receive a large percentage of the total wagering. A jockey is a person that rides a horse during a race. A jockey is a very important part of the horse race, and he or she can make or break a race.
When a horse is “up against the wall” it means that it is behind another horse and will likely be passed by in the final stretch. A jockey is “on the bit” if he or she has a grip on the horse’s mouth, which can be done either by hand or with a whip.
The earliest horse races were based on gambling, but under Louis XIV (1643-1715), horse racing became organized and rules were established that included requiring certificates of origin for horses, imposing extra weight on foreign-born horses, and regulating the number of times that horses could be raced in a day.
One major type of horse race is the handicap, in which horses are assigned a different weight than others competing in the same race to allow all participants an equal chance of winning. The weights may be set centrally where racing is so controlled, or by individual tracks, and they are based on a combination of factors including the age and gender of the horse (for instance fillies carry less weight than males), its training and previous results, and its position in the field of other entrants.
The stewards, who are similar to officials in other sports, are responsible for making sure that all the rules of the horse race are followed during a race. These officials are rarely seen during a race, and they will only be called out if a violation is committed. If they deem that a foul occurred, they will investigate and then decide on the appropriate penalty. Some of these penalties include disqualification, suspension, or fine. They may also order the horse to be quarantined.