A horse race is a sporting event in which two or more horses compete to win a competition. The race may be run on a track or in the field. The winning horse is usually the one that crosses the finish line first.
The sport of horse racing dates back to ancient times when people used four-hitched chariots and mounted bareback horses. The sport is still practiced in many parts of the world.
In Europe, horse races are held on public grounds or at fairs. In the United States, they are usually held at racetracks, and a variety of different types of horse races are conducted.
During the 18th century, American horse racing gained popularity as a way of promoting thoroughbreds and cavalry horses. The Civil War and the Indian wars helped to increase the demand for racing horses, as cavalrymen needed fast horses that could fight their way across long distances.
Early race rules were simple, involving a match between two or three horses, the owners putting up money in advance to cover their bets, and the winner taking home the full amount. These matches were often violent, with tavern patrons and country gentlemen hurling wagers and blows at each other as the horses ran down narrow racing lanes surrounded by fans.
As racing became more sophisticated, it also shifted from the open-air to the enclosed track. Today’s thoroughbreds are bred for a wide range of abilities, from the precocious two-year-olds and sprinters to the Classic middle-distance horses and those with enhanced stamina.
The horse race is governed by a set of rules, called rulebooks, imposed on national racing organizations around the world. These differ slightly from one national organization to the next, but are largely based on the British Horseracing Authority’s original rulebook of 1729.
Handicaps: Weight penalties or allowances are given to horses based on their age and past performance in previous races. A two-year-old is handicapped with less weight than a three-year-old, and fillies are given sex allowances so that they can carry slightly lower weights than males.
Medications: Most horses are injected with a diuretic that allows them to urinate more than normal, an action known as “excessive drinking.” These drugs are also used to combat pulmonary bleeding, which is common in hard-running horses and can be dangerous for both horse and jockey.
A horse’s blood pressure is monitored using a machine at the start of the race. The machine will alert the stewards and a veterinarian should the horse’s blood pressure rise above a preset level.
The drug Lasix is sometimes injected into the horses on race day to prevent pulmonary bleeding. This can be a real problem in some situations and is considered by many to be an irresponsible use of the drug, but for decades it has been a staple of the horse racing industry.
It’s also the reason why a lot of horse owners put their horses on the racing circuit. By the time Stronach came into the picture, Lasix was a ubiquitous substance on racing forms–along with saline, which is also a diuretic that prevents bloating and water retention.