Gambling on Horse Races

A horse race is an intense form of close competition. Among other uses, we use the term to describe political contests and nail-biters in sports. However, the term is also slang for something much more sinister: a deadly game in which humans wager money on the lives of other humans.

The horse racing industry has a long history of putting profit above animal welfare, and a growing number of people are calling for the sport to be abolished. In the meantime, a few key changes could make a big difference to the animals who risk their lives every time they enter a track.

In a race, horses compete against each other with large stakes and a crowd of human spectators. The winner receives a significant prize, but for the losers, there is little joy in coming in second or third. They may suffer from the stress of being whipped, or they might have their legs broken, or worse. The sport is extremely dangerous, and it is not uncommon for a horse to die in the course of a race.

Despite these risks, most people who gamble on horse races choose to bet on the first-place finisher. The most common ways to bet are to place your money on the horse to win, to place, or to bet on the horse to’show.’ Betting’show’ means that you are betting on the horse to come in first, second or third. It is not as profitable as placing, but it is far safer than betting ‘win.’

To help the horses to keep up with their rivals, most of them are trained in what is known as a “pacing gait.” In this style of racing, the front and back legs move together on one side (called the left-front leg and the right-back leg) rather than alternate on each side. To prevent the horses from losing their stride, pacers wear hobbles, which are small straps that connect the hooves of both feet.

The pacing style of racing is very taxing on the horses, and can cause them to lose their stride, leading to injuries and sometimes even death. For instance, many horses have suffered from a condition called exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage, in which their lungs bleed after prolonged exertion. To prevent this, most horses are pumped full of cocktails of legal and illegal drugs.

Few racehorses are ever rehabilitated and returned to a life of peaceful retirement. Instead, they are often euthanized after an injury or when their competitive career is over. Their bodies are then discarded and sold for food, glue or other purposes. A zero-tolerance drug policy, turf (grass) tracks only, a ban on whipping and more reforms would make a huge difference for the abused horses who still compete in this cruel sport.

Media scholars have long criticized the way in which news outlets treat elections as a horse race, focusing on polls and giving the most positive coverage to frontrunners and underdogs who are gaining ground. However, these criticisms have generally been met with silence from those who run the news outlets.