Horse racing is one of the world’s oldest sports and despite growing to become a multi-billion dollar business with huge fields of runners and sophisticated electronic monitoring equipment, its essential concept remains unchanged. It is a competition of speed and stamina between two horses, and the horse that crosses the finish line first wins.
Bettors wager on a variety of outcomes such as which horse will win, place, or show and in some cases they may bet on accumulator bets that pay out in the event of a race being won by more than one horse. However, despite the popularity of the sport, some people choose to boycott horse races over the treatment of the animals involved in the event.
The sport of horse racing is a complex affair that has many layers of regulations. For example, all horses must have a pedigree that proves their father and mother are purebred individuals. Additionally, a horse must be of a certain age in order to compete. Younger horses are known as sophomores and older horses are called veterans. In addition, there are different categories of races and the entrants in each are assigned weights to equalize their chances for winning.
There are also rules in place for the use of drugs and medications on a horse to improve its performance. In the past, this was very common and was even a requirement in some races. Medications included powerful painkillers, anti-inflammatories and growth hormones. However, the industry was not always transparent about what was used and there was often a lack of testing capacity to detect many of these drugs.
While the sport has evolved into a modern spectacle, the truth is that horses are still being forced to sprint at such speeds that they frequently suffer from injuries and breakdowns. In some instances, these horses are also killed during the course of a race. Moreover, there have been numerous reports of animal cruelty within the industry.
The racing industry is trying to address these issues by implementing reforms that will increase safety measures for both the horses and the trainers. A number of deaths at Santa Anita in California in 2019 led to new protocols such as necropsies and a thorough review of contributing factors, including vet records, inquests and interviews with stakeholders. Furthermore, racetracks in California and New York have public databases of equine injuries and fatalities. However, there is a long way to go to make horse racing safe for all participants. As a result, some horse owners have decided to stop betting on the sport altogether.