Horse racing is a global sport that has been practiced since ancient times. Archaeological evidence shows that horse races were held in Ancient Greece, Rome, Babylon, Syria, and Egypt. It also features prominently in the lore of many cultures, including Norse mythology, where Odin’s steed Hrungnir battled the giant Ymir in a horse race. Despite its long history, horse racing has struggled to find relevance in the modern world. It has lost ground to major professional and collegiate team sports in the United States. Many of the problems faced by the horse industry can be traced to decisions made in the wake of World War II, when horse racing leaders decided to protect their on-track audiences rather than embrace television. As a result, racing has failed to reach the mainstream of American culture.
The most significant problem facing horse racing is its decline in popularity. While the sport was once one of the most popular spectator activities in America, horse races now attract just 1 to 2 percent of the country’s population. The decline is partly due to a failure of racing leaders to take advantage of new technology and television, but more importantly it is caused by the fact that horse racing fails to appeal to young people and women. The sport is dominated by older, white, male patrons.
Another significant problem is the prevalence of doping in horse racing. Pushed beyond their limits, horses often bleed from the lungs, a condition called exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage. To combat this, most racehorses are administered cocktails of legal and illegal drugs designed to mask injuries and enhance performance. In addition, horses are often given steroids that can have serious health and ethical consequences.
A common term heard on commentary is “flat.” It is used to describe a horse that has fallen back in the field or off the pace, often resulting from fatigue or the horse reacting to being whipped by its rider.
When a horse is said to be on the board, it means that it is a favorite of the handicapper, and has a better than average chance of winning a race. This is determined by comparing the odds of each horse with the other competitors in the race. It is also important to remember that a horse’s odds can change dramatically over the course of a race.