A horse race is a sporting event involving an animal. The animals can be either wild or domestic. They are ridden by jockeys and raced on tracks. The sport involves many betting options. There are three ways to place a bet: Win, Place, and Show. Win bets are made on horses that finish first in the race. Place bets are placed on horses that finish second or third. Show bets are placed on horses that finish in either first, second or third. There are also a variety of other bet types such as exotic and proposition bets.
The race was a stakes, or top-level contest with large purses and an elevated status in the sport’s hierarchy. Horses are ranked according to their performance in these events, and the best ones earn the right to challenge for a major championship like the Triple Crown. There is also a category of races called handicaps that assign varying weights to the competing horses in order to keep the field competitively balanced. The weights are based on the horse’s age, distance, sex and gender.
When the race began, the eleven horses broke cleanly from their barriers. War of Will, the reigning Preakness champion, took an early lead around the clubhouse turn. He was followed by Mongolian Groom and McKinzie, a small-framed colt who was the favorite for this year’s Kentucky Derby.
As the race wore on, it became clear that the track was bad for the horses. The dirt is deep and slow, and the surface doesn’t provide much of the spring that makes a horse’s leg work, which is what lets them run so fast.
This is a problem that’s baked into the structure of racing, at both the macro business and industry level and within the minds of the men and women who make it up. To change that requires a profound ideological reckoning.
Until the Civil War, when dash racing (one heat) was introduced in the United States, Thoroughbreds excelled at stamina rather than speed. In those days, winning a King’s Plate required beating six-year-olds carrying 168 pounds in 4-mile heats. As the sport evolved, however, speed became the hallmark of greatness.
Today, Thoroughbreds are at their peak performance at age five. Nonetheless, the industry continues to breed and race horses that are older than they should be, with the result that, according to PETA, ten thousand American thoroughbreds die every year.
The deaths of Eight Belles and Medina Spirit last year, both at the Kentucky Derby, were widely seen as a wake-up call for the horse racing industry. But it has failed to respond adequately, instead blowing off the concerns of advocates for equine welfare and continuing to fail horses in the most basic way: by keeping them alive. A true reckoning will require an overhaul of the entire system, from breeding to aftercare. It’ll be expensive and complicated, but it can’t wait any longer.