What is a Horse Race?

A horse race is a sport in which horses are pulled by one or more jockeys on their backs to compete against other horses. The horses are run over a set course and are awarded a prize based on their place in the race. The sport has a long and distinguished history, and is popular in many countries.

A thoroughbred horse race is a type of horse race that takes place on a flat track and over distances ranging from 440 yards (400 m) to four miles (6 km). The races are seen as tests of both speed and stamina. The most prestigious flat races are the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Melbourne Cup, Japan Cup, Epsom Derby and Kentucky Derby.

The practice of horse racing has been around for millennia, and is rooted in ancient history from Greek and Roman chariot races to Bedouin endurance races in the Arabian desert. The modern game of horse racing was developed in England at Newmarket in the 1600s and is now one of the world’s most important industries.

Behind the romanticized facade of Thoroughbred horse racing is a harsh reality of gruesome injuries, drug abuse and even slaughter. Yet, the majority of the sport’s fans continue to turn a blind eye to the cruelty and neglect suffered by horses. Instead, they show up in their fancy outfits to watch the races and sip mint juleps.

It is the rare fan that recognizes that horse racing is in crisis and will take the necessary steps to protect the horses. In order to truly act in the best interests of the horses, a fundamental ideological reckoning must occur on both the macro business and industry level as well as within the minds of the men and women who work in the sport. This would involve a near-complete overhaul of the entire operation, from breeding to racing to aftercare, and integrating a more natural and equine friendly lifestyle into the life of the racehorse.

As the horse industry continues to evolve and modernize, it is imperative that it prioritizes the welfare of its animals. Otherwise, the future of this once-precious sport is in jeopardy.

*PETA’s investigation of the training practices at two elite trainers at Churchill Downs and Saratoga in upstate New York exposed horrific, but little-known, conditions at the top levels of American thoroughbred horse racing. These images shattered the sacrosanct bubble that is supposed to protect America’s best and brightest racing stars from the real world outside their stable doors. The images expose the harrowing truth that the vast majority of top-level racing horses are neglected and mistreated. They are bred and trained to be winners but they are often denied adequate medical treatment and are forced to run at speeds so fast that they frequently sustain devastating injuries, including the potentially fatal condition of exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage. The exploitation of these horses is nothing short of animal abuse. Despite this, there are many good horsemen and women who do their part to make changes for the better. They are the far-too-silent majority who must be heard if serious reform is to occur.