A horse race is a form of racing in which horses compete over a distance of two or more miles, generally on a dirt or turf track. The horses are harnessed and ridden by jockeys, who use whips to spur them into speed. The horses are often conditioned and given medications to make them stronger and faster. A horse that wins a race is proclaimed the winner.
The horses in a horse race are usually trained and bred by a stable of owners. They are then entered in races at a series of tracks and if they win a race, the owner receives a prize, or “money.” A successful trainer may also receive a bonus for placing a horse in the top three. In addition, the horses in a race are given what are called allowances and weight penalties on the basis of their age, sex, birthplace, or previous performance. The goal is to create an equal competition among the horses and to establish what is known as racing form.
In North America, horse races are governed by the states that sanction the sport. Each state has its own set of rules and regulations, which vary widely. For instance, the maximum number of whip blows a jockey can deliver during a race is different from one state to another. The punishments for horse owners or trainers who violate rules are also different from one jurisdiction to the next.
While some people like to watch horse races as entertainment, many others find the sport abhorrent. Despite a growing awareness of the cruelty involved, it continues to be popular in the United States. Many states tax betting on horse races. This is in part due to the fact that it provides a source of state revenue. Moreover, the taxation has been used as an incentive to attract new investors and encourage more racing facilities.
Some states have banned horse racing, but it remains legal in many areas. Some horse breeders and trainers are renowned for their skills, but critics say that they often put the welfare of the horses on the back burner in the pursuit of profit. A recent investigation by the organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals revealed that most horses are pushed to the limits of their ability and often suffer serious injuries. For example, the undercover video showed a horse named Nehro being kicked by his handlers and being given electric shocks to produce bursts of speed.
Many veterinarians are employed by the industry, and their work is not well regulated. This can allow for a conflict of interest. For instance, a veterinarian can be paid by the racetrack to certify that a horse is healthy enough to compete, even when he has an undiagnosed injury that could cause permanent lameness. Moreover, owners can sell a horse with an undiagnosed injury without disclosing the truth to potential buyers. Many of these injured horses are eventually sold for slaughter.