Horse racing is a sport where horses are pushed to extreme limits in order to win a race. The first horse whose nose crosses the finish line is declared the winner. The sport has a long history and has been played in many countries. However, it has lost popularity over the years due to animal rights and safety concerns. The influx of new gambling activities has also taken away from horse racing. The sport has been trying to improve its image but has had limited success.
Behind the romanticized facade of thoroughbred horse races are a world of broken bones and lungs ripped to shreds, drugs, and slaughter. While spectators sip mint juleps and show off their fancy outfits, the horses are running for their lives.
In the walking ring before a race, bettors study a horse’s coat for signs that it is ready to run: bright, rippling with just enough sweat and muscled excitement. At the starting gate, Mongolian Groom balked, a sign that he was frightened or angry. His rider, Abel Cedillo, remained calm, and the gate staff was patient as well.
Eventually, War of Will took the lead and kept it all the way to the clubhouse turn. On the far turn, he began to tire and was passed by McKinzie and then Vino Rosso.
As they sprinted down the stretch, the crowd roared. The horses moved with huge strides and hypnotic smoothness. At the top of the stretch, McKinzie drew close to the lead, but then Vino Rosso surged past. They were neck and neck in the final stretch, with a nose separated them.
The earliest races were match races between two or three horses, with the owners providing the purses and bettors making a wager on which horse would win. The earliest match races were recorded by disinterested third parties who came to be known as keepers of the match books, and they became organized into a historical record called An Historical List of All Horse-Matches Run (1729).
As the sport evolved, horses were trained to be faster and stronger. However, the skeletal system of young horses is still developing and they are unprepared for the stress and strain of sprinting to the finish line. Racing officials have tried to address this problem by requiring horses to be at least four years old and limiting their number of starts.
In recent decades, the sport has struggled to attract a new audience and has been forced to slash costs. Grandstands that once held thousands now only hold dozens. The industry is in decline, and serious reform is needed to save it. But horse racing’s defenders argue that it is too late to revive the sport and that any attempts to make it more sustainable will harm its integrity. A small but ferocious minority of fans remain loyal to the sport, but even they are turning away in droves. Unless the sport changes significantly, it may never recover from its current malaise.