The Integrity of Horse Racing Is in the Hands of the Crooks

Horse racing is a sport that’s as old as civilization, and over the centuries it has evolved from a primitive contest of speed or stamina between two horses into a modern spectacle involving large fields of runners, sophisticated electronic monitoring equipment, and immense sums of money. But its basic concept has never changed: The horse that crosses the finish line first wins.

It’s true that most trainers, assistant trainers, jockeys, drivers, caretakers and veterinarians truly love their horses and would never intentionally harm them. But they’re also part of an industry that is deeply corrupt and depraved, where people like Steve Asmussen routinely use performance-enhancing drugs on their horses, and race officials are almost always one step ahead of the scientists who develop tests for them. The sport’s crooks are a small but feral minority that’s enough to taint the integrity of horse racing for everyone else.

There are essentially three kinds of people in horse racing: The crooks who dangerously drug or otherwise abuse their horses, the dupes who labor under the fantasy that horse races are broadly fair and honest, and the mass of honorable souls in the middle who know that things are far worse than they ought to be but still don’t give their all to fix them. If serious reform is to come, it will be from that third category of horsemen and women.

A horse’s shoulder is the region in which the foreleg pasterns meet, and it is heavily muscled to generate a smooth rhythm of movement as the horse runs. In some races, a jockey is allowed to strike the horse’s shoulders with a whip. The shoulder is also the main area on a horse’s body where the rider can use the reins to control the horse, so the more flexible the shoulder, the more easily a rider can guide the animal.

Horses must be purebred to race, which means they have a father and mother who both belong to the same breed. To qualify for most flat races, a horse must have a pedigree that meets certain criteria regarding age, distance, sex, and time of year. Some horse races are open, while others are restricted to a specific township or county and require that the horses be nominated in advance of the race.

The sport of horse racing has evolved significantly in recent years, with advances in technology making the sport safer and more competitive. These include thermal imaging cameras that detect overheating, MRI scanners to diagnose minor and major ailments, 3D printing for casts and splints, and other medical devices that are helping to improve the health and safety of the horses and riders. However, despite these advances, many people still don’t understand the horse racing industry and the ways that it operates. This can lead to misinformed public perceptions about the sport, which can erode interest and attendance. In turn, this can negatively impact the financial security of stables and racing tracks.