The Dark Side of Horse Racing

Horse racing is a thrilling sport that has stood the test of time. However, the sport is not without its dark side. Growing awareness of horse racing’s cruelty has led to some improvements, but many horse races are still held in a brutal and unjust way. A growing number of activists are working to end the exploitation of horses in the horse racing industry. Some of these activists run the activist group Horseracing Wrongs, while others work for PETA, which has uncovered abusive training practices for young horses, drug use by racehorses, and the transport of ten thousand American thoroughbreds each year to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico.

The history of horse races began in Ancient Greece, where jockeys wore chariots or mounted bareback and competed in three events: sprint races, a steeplechase, and a long distance race. Later, the sport was developed by Europe. The earliest recorded horse race dates back to the Greek Olympics in 700 BC. As the game became more popular, the number of races increased and rules were established to govern horse racing. These rules governed eligibility based on age, sex, and birthplace as well as the qualifications of trainers and riders.

During the 1700s and 1800s, Thoroughbreds were developed as the fastest horses in the world. These fast and agile animals owe their ancestry to 43 mares that were brought to England in the early 17th century. The DNA of these mares can be traced to 95% of today’s Thoroughbreds.

In a horse race, a bet can be placed on the winner of a specific event, the place finishers, or both. Depending on the type of horse race, betting limits vary. For example, in a handicap race, where horses are assigned weights according to their ability, placing bets pay out at a fixed rate for the first two places and at a lower rate for the third place finishers. In a standard stakes race, where the field is restricted to a certain number of runners, the amount of money paid out for each position can be higher than in a handicap race.

Other terms used in horse races are:

Clubhouse Turn: Generally the first turn of a racetrack, and usually the closest to the clubhouse facility. The turn can be a dirt, turf, or synthetic track.

Colt: A male horse under five years old. A colt is a juvenile horse, and may or may not be gelded. The Jockey Club allows horses to be bred in the colors of bay, black, chestnut, dark bay/brown, gray, and roan.

Commingle: The act of combining mutuel pools from off-track sites with the mutuel pool at the host track.

Coffin Bone: The third phalanx (P3) of the foot or hoof. The coffin bone is the main bony structure that supports the entire hoof.

Cut Down: To lose a horse race due to an injury, such as a broken hock or to the tearing of a hoof.

A horse that is “in the money” finishes in the top four, which entitles its owner to a share of the prize money. The term is also applied to a bet that wins its bet, or is “in the pocket.”