A horse race is a sporting event in which horses compete for prize money. It is one of the oldest and most enduring sports in human history. There are many different types of races, but the most famous are the Triple Crown series of events that consist of the Preakness Stakes, the Kentucky Derby, and the Belmont Stakes. These are considered to be the most prestigious of horse racing and attract thousands of spectators each year. There are also smaller stakes races that are regarded as less important, but which are nonetheless very popular in their own right. The sport is extremely dangerous for the horses and requires high levels of skill from their riders, known as jockeys. During the race, they are forced to run at very high speeds, which puts them at risk of injuries and even death. Cracked leg bones and hooves are a common result of the intense pressure put on them.
The earliest horse races were match contests between two or at most three horses. Later, pressure from the public led to races with large fields of runners. As dash, or one-heat, racing became the norm, a rider’s ability to gain a few yards quickly became vital. As the speed of horse racing increased, specialized shoes were developed to help the animals grip the ground and carry the weight of their rider’s load. The use of these special shoes has made the sport far safer for both horses and jockeys, although it has not eliminated all accidents and serious injuries.
Today, Thoroughbreds are bred specifically for racing. They are a muscular breed that are designed to sprint fast over short distances. As a result, they often suffer from injuries and have a high rate of breakdowns and deaths. Many of these deaths are caused by trainers who over-medicate and over-train their horses, leading to gruesome breakdowns. Once a horse breaks down, it is euthanized or sent to the auction, where it will eventually be sold for slaughter.
PETA’s video exposes a hidden world of drugs, cruelty, and neglect that has been kept secret by those in the know. While there are some good trainers, jockeys, and caretakers, the majority of people involved in horse racing are bad actors. The Times’s story and the video that accompanies it show that it is time for reform. A zero-tolerance drug policy, turf (grass) tracks only, a ban on whipping, and competitive racing only after horses are four years old are just some of the changes that need to be made.