Horse racing is a popular sport where competitors ride and guide horses through a course of hurdles or fences (if present), over which they must jump to win the race. There are different types of races, including handicap races in which the weights that each horse must carry for fairness are adjusted according to age or sex (female horses run against males). The most important aspect of a horse race is the horse itself, as it is the only animal capable of running fast enough to win a race. Other factors that can influence a race include the track, jockey, and training.
The most prestigious races in the world are known as classics and include the Belmont Stakes, Preakness Stakes, and Kentucky Derby. These three races make up the American Triple Crown series, which is modeled after Britain’s Triple Crown, though there are many other classics held all over the world.
Before a race begins, the horses are lined up in stalls or behind a starting gate. After the gate opens, the horses race down a dirt or turf track, and the winner is determined by whose horse crosses the finish line first. Each year, tens of thousands of horses are raced around the world. The majority are Thoroughbreds, but some other breeds may also compete.
During a horse race, the horses are guided by jockeys, who use whips to encourage them to run faster and help them navigate obstacles. The whip can cause pain and discomfort for the horses, so jockeys must be careful how they use it. The track will usually have rules on how often a jockey can use the whip.
After a horse race, the winning horse is awarded a prize. Depending on the race, it can be cash, a horse, or other prizes. The horses are also evaluated following the race and given a rating of their performance, such as good, sound, or perfect.
The problem with horse racing is that the industry profits off of these animals for years, then turns a blind eye to what happens once they leave the business. There is no lifelong tracking system in place for the horses once they are no longer profitable, and they hemorrhage into slaughterhouse pipelines that demand arbitrary and often outrageous ransoms from them in exchange for their lives. If not for the few independent nonprofit rescue groups who network, fundraise, and fight tirelessly to save them, these horses would face horrific endings. For now, donations by racing fans and gamblers are essential to the survival of older and injured racehorses, but they cannot replace the need for an industry-wide wraparound aftercare system.