A horse race is a competition in which horses are forced to run fast over a hard track. During the race, they are subjected to exorbitant physical stress and are often injured or die from heart attacks. Horse racing is an industry dominated by wealthy people and is a sport that has long been shrouded in controversy. In recent years, growing awareness of animal cruelty in the industry has fueled improvements, but many still see it as a dangerous sport.
While spectators sip mint juleps and swoon over the beauty of a racehorse, it’s a different story behind the scenes. The industry is riddled with abuse, drug use, gruesome breakdowns, and slaughter.
The first recorded horse race was held in 1651 in France as the result of a wager between two noblemen. The French monarchy soon became involved, imposing a number of rules by royal decree. These included requiring certificates of origin for horses and imposing extra weight on foreign horses. In the 1770s, a professional jockey club was organized and a standardized system of races established. The original King’s Plates, for instance, were standardized races for six-year-olds carrying 168 pounds in 4-mile heats. Five-year-olds and four-year-olds were admitted to the races after 1751, but they carried less weight.
Today, horse races are regulated at the state and national level in most countries, and there are a number of different types of races. A major type of horse race is the handicap race, in which the weights that a horse must carry during a race are adjusted on the basis of its age and sex. For example, a two-year-old carries less weight than a three-year-old, and there are also sex allowances in which females compete with lighter weights than males.
Another type of horse race is the jumps race, which involves jumping over obstacles. In Europe, jumps horses typically begin their career in National Hunt flat races, then move to hurdling (a form of hurdle racing) and, after a few years, if they’re thought capable, switch to steeplechasing.
Regardless of the type of race, all races are usually divided into groups based on the age and sex of the competing horses. This is done to create a competitive balance among the horses and allow fans to better understand which horses might be likely to win. Often, the names of the groups are derived from famous races and can add to the excitement and fun of betting. For example, a race for fillies is often called a “Round the World” or a “Six-Pack.” There are also races for older horses that have accumulated significant earnings over their careers.