Horse races are a form of gambling in which people place bets on the outcome of a race. The winning horse receives a prize, usually a sum of money. There are different types of horse races, including handicaps and stakes races. In the latter, horses are given different amounts of weight to carry for fairness. The highest-level stakes races are known as Group 1 races.
In order to run in a horse race, a horse must be declared fit by its trainer. This is done a few days before the race and occurs in a weighing room. At this time, the trainer also declares which jockey will ride the horse and any equipment (such as blinkers) that it will wear. This information is then printed on the race’s official program, or racecard.
Until the mid-18th century, organized racing was limited to wealthy landowners and members of noble families who could afford to keep and train a stable of horses. But as demand increased, rules were established to allow more horses to participate. Initially, eligibility was determined by age, sex, birthplace, and previous race performance. Later, other factors such as track conditions and distance were added to the criteria. By the mid-19th century, racing was a popular pastime for millions of Americans.
A horse’s ability to run a race is based on many different factors, including its physical condition, training regimen, and genetic traits. A horse’s breed and lineage are also important considerations. In addition to speed, stamina is a key component of any race. Some horse races are longer than others, and some have multiple turns. The first horse to cross the finish line in a race wins.
The 2020 US Congress decided that it was unwilling to see animals die just to entertain gamblers, and so introduced new standards for horse racing safety. A federal commission was set up to oversee the new rules, and it has already seen some improvements in the industry’s safety record.
During the 2022 season, a record-low rate of horse fatalities was recorded at US racetracks. This trend is likely to continue as the new safety regulations are implemented and enforced.
To be ‘in the money’ means that a selection finishes in the top three or four places in a race. This generally entitles the owner to a share of the purse. Depending on the type of race, and the number of runners, the portion of the bet paid for a horse to ‘place’ may be higher or lower than its win odds.
A horse that is not whipped by its jockey is said to be under a hand ride. When a horse is being hand-ridden, it is not being ridden vigorously or with great accuracy. The horse’s rider is rubbing his or her hands down its neck and shoulders, using a technique called’scrubbing’ to urge the animal on. This style of riding is considered more ethical than whipping, and it is used in the most prestigious races, such as the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.