The History of Horse Racing

Gambling Mar 22, 2024

A horse race is a competition between horses over short distances. It is a dangerous sport in which the participants are forced to run at speeds that can cause severe injuries and even hemorrhage from the lungs. Behind the romanticized facade of Thoroughbred horse racing is a world of drug abuse, gruesome breakdowns, and slaughter. The earliest races were match contests between two, or at most three, horses, but pressure from the public produced events with larger fields of runners. Eligibility rules were developed based on age, sex, birthplace and previous performance. Races were organized into a series of levels known as “other than” races, with the number increasing as the level of the race increased.

Eventually, racing became the most popular form of spectator sports in Europe. It was a sport of the rich, and by the time of Louis XIV (1651–1715), it had become an industry that required significant capital to participate. It also required large numbers of skilled workers to handle and care for the horses and to operate the track facilities.

To be eligible to compete in a horse race, a horse must have passed a series of qualifying races called claiming races. These races are designed to allow similar types of horses to run against one another, so that the odds of winning a wager are fairly equal for all bettors.

The stewards and patrol judges, assisted by a motion-picture police, look for rule violations during the course of the race. The finish is photographed by a special camera, and the results are announced afterward.

As dash racing (one heat) became the rule, a rider’s skill and judgment became vital to gaining a few feet of advantage. This has led to many jockeys becoming famous for their ability to coax a few extra strides out of their mounts.

In the early 20th century, drugs slipped into horse racing, often undetected by officialdom. Painkillers, antipsychotics, anti-epilepsy drugs, growth hormones and blood doping all made their way into racing, which lacked the testing capacity to detect them. Moreover, penalties for breaking the rules were relatively weak, so trainers could easily move to other tracks where they might be more likely to get away with their crimes.

It is a scene that plays out at racetracks more frequently than any of us want to imagine. The horse is pulled up and out of competition as the crowd cheers for its owner or, more realistically, the person who placed a bet on it. Within a few minutes, a track veterinarian arrives and starts to examine the horse. If the horse is not in obvious horrible pain, it is euthanized by chemical means. First an anesthetic is administered so that the horse loses consciousness, and then a barbiturate is given to stop its heart and breathing. It is the same way that your veterinarian euthanizes your pet cat or dog.

By admin