A horse race is a competition in which horses are driven by their human handlers at speeds that can exceed 30 miles per hour. The equine athletes, known as Thoroughbreds, are raised and trained to compete in the sport and are expected to win or place highly. The race is considered the pinnacle of achievement for these athletic creatures. However, a growing number of animal rights advocates have criticized horse racing, accusing it of being inhumane and corrupted by drug abuse and overbreeding. Some are calling for an end to the industry.
When a horse wins, it is rewarded with a share of the total bet placed. In the United States, the most prestigious races are the Triple Crown, consisting of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. Other countries have their own series of elite races. The equine athletes begin their careers as foals and progress to bigger obstacles and longer distances as they age. For example, a British jumps horse will often begin its career with National Hunt flat races and then move on to hurdling and steeplechasing.
The first modern race was held on December 17, 1775 in Baltimore, Maryland, where horse races were common in the colonial era. A bay mare named Selima won the event by a nose over a horse owned by Maryland breeder and politician William Byrd. Selima was the first horse to be bred and race in America and her victory marked the beginning of organized horse racing in the country.
Until the Civil War, organized racing was more focused on stamina than speed. As a result, horses usually achieved their peak ability at age five or six. However, escalating breeding fees and sale prices have caused many owners to keep their horses racing beyond the classic age of three years. The number of races run with horses aged five or older has also declined, but some of the biggest purses are reserved for these veterans.
In addition to the main types of races, there are also handicap races in which horses are assigned different weights based on their abilities. In these races, the most talented horses generally carry the most weight. Other factors that affect a horse’s chances include its age, gender, jockey and training.
The horse’s trip refers to its course and the difficulties or obstacles it encounters during a race. A good trip is one in which the horse encounters few problems and races close to the pace. A bad trip may involve a horse racing wide, or getting boxed in by other horses. The term “lug in” describes a horse that drifts towards the inside barrier late in the race and is often a sign of tiredness. In racing terms, to be in the money is to finish in the top four and receive a significant share of the prize money. To be out of the money is to finish outside of the top four. Click or tap a race title to get more detailed results and premium Timeform post racing analysis.