A horse race is a contest of speed between horses that are either ridden by jockeys or pulled by sulkies and their drivers. A horse races are usually run over a distance of a mile or less, on a track that can be made up of grass, dirt, or artificial surfaces. Oftentimes, horse races feature some of the highest stakes in the sport.
Horse racing is a global industry that spans several countries and continents. It is dominated by Thoroughbreds, which are pure-bred horses that must pass a series of tests to become eligible to compete in the sport. While the sport has many critics, some see it as an important part of American culture and society.
The best horse races feature a clash of champions from different eras and varying backgrounds, as well as a setting that lends itself to drama and spectacle. A great race is always thrilling to watch, but it can also inspire us and help elevate a horse from simple greatness into immortality.
Most horses that compete in a horse race are assigned a weight to carry for fairness, and the winner will take home a large sum of money known as a purse. In addition to the weight that a horse carries, the performance of a horse in a particular race can be influenced by its breeding, age, sex, and training. The oldest and most prestigious horse races are known as classics and usually offer the largest purses.
During the Civil War, Union officials encouraged horse breeders to develop thoroughbreds because cavalrymen needed fast horses. As a result, the number of thoroughbreds in America increased dramatically during the Civil War. By the late 1850s, the United States had more than a hundred racetracks, and most were constructed in the South, where horse breeding was concentrated.
In the early days of horse racing, match races between two horses were common. The owners of each horse put up the money for a purse, which was then distributed according to an agreement recorded by disinterested third parties known as keepers of the match books. As the popularity of horse racing grew, these agreements became more formalized, and one such keeper at Newmarket in England began publishing An Historical List of All Horse-Matches Run (1729).
Although many people enjoy watching a great horse race on television, it is even more exciting to be present at the racetrack. Those who do can look forward to a day of sun, food, and fun, while enjoying the sight of dozens of world-class racehorses competing in front of thousands of fans. It is no wonder that horse racing is considered to be a truly magical event! However, behind the glamorous façade of the sport lies a world of horse abuse and drugs, gruesome injuries, and, ultimately, slaughter. For this reason, some people are against the practice.