A horse race is a Thoroughbred race in which horses compete to win a purse. The race is run over a variety of surfaces, including dirt, grass, and synthetic all-weather tracks. The winner of a race is declared after the last horse crosses the finish line. The sport is popular throughout the world and has a long history in America, where it is sometimes referred to as The Sport of Kings.
Horse racing is a cruel and inhumane business that exploits and abuses animals. While spectators dress in fancy outfits and sip mint juleps, the animals are forced to sprint for their lives, often under the threat of whips and illegal electric shock devices. They are often seriously injured, and some suffer from gruesome breakdowns and pulmonary hemorrhage. Despite the romanticized facade of the sport, the truth is that horse racing is a cesspool of dangerously drugged horses, illegal gambling, and corruption.
The sport’s most infamous crooks are cheaters who illegally drug or otherwise mistreat their horses in order to improve their odds of winning. These are a small minority but still large enough to stain the integrity of the game for everyone else. There are also the dupes, those who labor under the false assumption that the industry is broadly fair and honest. And then there are the masses in the middle, neither naive nor cheaters, who know that the industry is more crooked than it ought to be but who refuse to do all they can to fix it.
One major type of race is a handicap, in which the weights that the horses carry during the race are adjusted according to their age and record. The younger the horses are, the less weight they must carry. In addition, there are sex allowances, in which fillies carry lighter weights than males.
A handicapper assigns the weights for each race, and a racing secretary or other official approves them before the races take place. A horse’s weight is important because it determines how much of a chance it has of winning. The higher the weight, the more difficult it is for a horse to win.
The most famous horse race is the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, a classic race for three-year-olds that is run over a distance of about six and a half furlongs. There are many other prestigious races for older horses, including the Caulfield and Sydney Cups in Australia, the Gran Premio Internacional Carlos Pellegrini in Argentina, the Queen Elizabeth Stakes in England, and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes in Canada.
Most races are held over six furlongs. But some are held over longer distances, and the most famous of these is the Kentucky Derby, which is a mile and a quarter. Most thoroughbreds reach their peak performance at the classic age of three, but the escalating size of purses, breeding fees, and sales prices have meant that fewer and fewer races are conducted with horses over the age of four.