A horse race is a competition in which horses compete against each other on a designated course to be the first across the finish line. It is one of the oldest sports, with roots that reach back to ancient times in Asia and Africa. Horse races are held all over the world today and include both flat and jump racing. While it is difficult to say exactly when and where horse racing began, some of the earliest records date back to 700 to 40 B.C., when riders participated in both four-hitched chariots and mounted bareback races at the ancient Greek Olympic Games.
The sport of horse racing is often considered the most elegant form of gambling and a major spectator draw at race tracks around the world. Bettors are encouraged to dress in their finest clothing, drink mint juleps and eat sandwiches while watching the action on the track. But behind the romanticized facade of this venerable sport are gruesome injuries, drug abuse and harrowing breakdowns. And while many would-be fans have been turned off by the bad press, those who still love the sport remain loyal and steadfast.
However, there are serious problems with horse racing that need to be addressed if the industry is to survive and thrive. The biggest problem is cheating and corruption in the sport. There are a small number of people who are willing to bend the rules and cheat the system in order to win a race, and their actions stain the integrity of the sport for all others.
Another major issue is that despite enormous advances in breeding technology, the breeds used to race horses are still not getting any faster. The reason for this is that the modern thoroughbred breeds were developed to achieve a particular level of performance, but they have failed to do so. As a result, horse racing has become more of an endurance event than a speed event and as purse sizes have increased, the age at which racehorses are retired has risen.
In addition to the above issues, the equine industry is also facing a loss of customers. Increasingly, people are turning to other forms of gambling or have simply stopped going to the track. There are a number of reasons for this, including poor racing product, a lack of new entrants and the fact that horse betting is not legal in all states. This is a sad development for the industry, and reform is essential if it is to survive. Fortunately, there are a few people in the industry who understand that, and who are committed to making changes for the better. Hopefully, the rest of the industry will follow their lead and make horse racing a more ethical sport. Then, we may see the return of the crowds that once packed the grandstands and cheered for Seabiscuit and his pals. Until then, we can only hope for the best. — By Mark Drape, AP, via The Atlantic