A horse race is a sport where horses and their jockeys compete to be the first to cross a finish line. Horses are often forced to race at high speeds, which can lead to gruesome injuries and pulmonary hemorrhaging. They also have to jump over hurdles if present. Depending on the race, prize money is awarded to the top three finishers.
Before a race begins, horses are positioned in stalls or behind a starting gate to ensure that no one has an unfair advantage. Then the gates open and the race starts. Once the horses are off, their jockeys help them to follow the course and jump any hurdles if present. In most races, a winner is decided by a photo finish, where stewards carefully examine a photo of the finish line to determine which horse crossed it first.
The horses used in horse racing are bred specifically to run fast. They are rushed to the track at a very young age, which can cause developmental issues. This is why so many horses end up getting injured in the process of running a race. Their legs, hocks and hooves can crack under the immense pressure put on them to run so fast. This can make the horse very painful, and sometimes they need to be euthanized.
Horses are injected with a drug called Lasix before the race to prevent pulmonary hemorrhaging, which is caused by hard running. The drug is a diuretic, meaning it causes the horses to unload epic amounts of urine during the race—twenty or thirty pounds’ worth. The steroid’s ability to stop the bleeding is a life saver, but it can cause long-term problems for the horse. Nevertheless, for decades almost every thoroughbred in the United States has received race-day Lasix. The only way to know whether a horse has been given the drug is to read the racing form, where it’s noted with a boldface “L.”
In addition to bleeders, most horses are given steroids and other drugs to enhance their performance. In some cases, this is done illegally and without the knowledge of the owner. The use of these drugs is a major concern for animal rights activists and is an important topic to discuss when it comes to horse racing.
There are essentially three types of people in horse racing: the crooks who dangerously drug their horses and countenance such behavior from their agents; the dupes who labor under the fantasy that the industry is broadly fair and honest; and the masses who know that it is more crooked than it ought to be but don’t do all they can to fix it. The recent tragedies at Santa Anita Park have brought the issue to the forefront. But even though dozens of rules have been made to improve safety, NPR reports that the problem is far from resolved. Despite the efforts of regulators, horse racing remains a very dangerous sport for horses. The most common types of accidents are fractures, lacerations, and pulmonary hemorrhaging.