A Horse Race Is More Than Just A Sport Or A Business

A horse race is more than a sport or a business; it’s a ritual that requires a particular combination of conditions. The horses must be fast, the crowds cheering loud and enthusiastic, and the stakes high. A great race can elevate a good horse into immortality.

In the early days of horse racing, betting was based on gambling and the rules were established by royal decree during the reign of Louis XIV. One of the first requirements was that the horses’ sire and dam be purebred members of the breed. Another was that the horse be trained by a licensed trainer.

The sport has long been plagued by scandals over drugs and safety, and new customers are hard to find. It isn’t just old racing fans who are turning away, though. New would-be fans are often turned off by the exploitation of animals and the constant slew of tragedies, including fatal crashes, that occur during races.

Despite these problems, many people remain loyal to the sport. And there are a handful of racetracks that continue to draw new fans and generate enthusiasm for the sport among younger generations.

The Kentucky Derby is the most prestigious event in American thoroughbred racing. It’s also the most challenging, both physically and psychologically. The grueling test has caused the deaths of two of the most beloved horses in history, Eight Belles and Medina Spirit, both of which were only three years old when they died during the exorbitant physical stress of a race.

This year’s Derby is being run in the shadow of those two tragedies, and it will be contested by a group of horses that includes some of the most talented youngsters in the game. But while donations by fans, industry folks and gamblers are important to the sport, they don’t address the lack of an adequately funded, industry-sponsored wraparound aftercare solution for all racehorses when they leave the track.

BALKING-A horse bucking or refusing to enter the starting gate. Some horses are more prone to balk than others, but a balk usually means the animal is frightened or angry. Bettors look at a horse’s coat in the walking ring before a race to see if it is bright and rippling with sweat, an indication that the animal is ready to run.

COOLING OUT-Returning to normal temperature after overheating during a race or workout. A horse may also be cooled down by having its feet bathed with cold water or by being sprayed with a mist of saltwater.