The Underbelly of the Horse Race

horse race

The horse race is the contest of speed among horses that are ridden by jockeys or pulled by sulkies and their drivers. The equine sport has gained in popularity as a spectator and betting activity, drawing horses and riders from all over the world to compete for prestige and profits. In recent years, the number of thoroughbreds being bred and trained has surged in response to burgeoning demand. The industry is also a lucrative one, with races that draw the top contenders from local and international breeding programs offering high-stakes prizes.

Individual flat races are typically run over distances between 440 yards and four miles. The shortest distances, which are called sprints, are seen as tests of speed; the longest distances, which are called routes in the United States or stays in Europe, are viewed as tests of stamina.

While the sport is often portrayed as a glamorous spectacle, its underbelly is less glamorous than it might seem. The skeletal systems of most horses are still developing when they’re thrust into intensive training, meaning that their spines and legs are not yet fully matured. As a result, they are unprepared for the stresses of racing on hard tracks at high speeds. One study found that a horse is injured in every 22 races, while another estimated that three thoroughbreds die each day of catastrophic injuries during races.

In addition, the economics of the sport encourage reckless and abusive practices. Because the average racehorse costs less than a used car, horsemen are incentivized to push their animals past their limits. The result is that more than 10,000 horses were killed at US tracks and training facilities in 2014, according to the website Horseracing Wrongs.

A veterinary exam of Havnameltdown after the fatal accident showed that the horse had osteoarthritis, bone cysts, and severe degenerative joint changes in all four limbs. These conditions were exacerbated by the injection of corticosteroids in multiple joints four weeks before the Preakness and the use of sedatives during training. The postmortem examination of the equine athlete also revealed an abnormal level of fat in his body.

Academics have been investigating the effects of a relatively new type of horse race journalism that uses probabilistic forecasting to promote specific candidates. This style of news reporting has been found to discourage voting, especially by young people, who have limited experience with democratic politics and can be swayed by the appearance of a rigged game.

Researchers have found that this strategy is most prevalent in corporate-owned or large-chain newspapers, and in close elections. They have also found that it elevates cynicism about politics and discourages voters from exploring third-party or unconventional candidates. Moreover, this approach tends to give the illusion that electoral results are inevitable and can create a sense of complacency among those who think that the outcome is already determined. The research suggests that the best way to avoid this problem is for journalists to be more transparent with their readers about the limitations of polling methods.