The History of the Horse Race

When we hear the phrase “horse race,” we usually think of a contest between two horses, either in a chariot or on foot, that involves a lot of running. The sport dates back to Ancient Greece, where it was a part of the Olympic Games from 700 to 40 B.C. Eventually horse racing spread to other countries, where it evolved into the modern version we see today.

The first horse races were very dangerous affairs. Many runners fell off their chariots or were thrown from their mounts. Some even died from injuries sustained in the course of the event. As time went by, rules were developed to make the sport safer for horses and spectators. For example, races were held on sandy or dirt tracks instead of paved ones. Rules were also developed regarding the age, sex, and birthplace of horses that could participate. Races were also created in which only certain owners had the right to enter their horses in particular races.

In addition, the sport became regulated and professional. This was made possible by the introduction of betting on horse races. Various betting systems were established, such as the win bet, the place bet, and the show bet. Each type of bet has its own advantages and disadvantages. Win bets pay out the most money for a horse, but are more risky than place and show bets. The place bet pays out a higher amount of money for finishing in the top three, but is less common than the win bet. Betting to show, on the other hand, is a safe bet that pays out less money but is easier to place.

Before a race, a horse’s coat is inspected in the walking ring to determine whether it is ready for the track. If a horse’s coat looks bright and shiny, it is believed to be fit for racing. It is then injected with Lasix, a diuretic, and its race-day form is marked with a “L.” Lasix helps prevent pulmonary bleeding that hard running can cause in some horses.

As with other sports, horse racing is often criticized for the way it treats its animals. Despite the best efforts of racing aficionados, horses continue to suffer in the industry’s for-profit business model. Animal rights activists say that horses should not be treated as mere commodities. Eight Belles, Medina Spirit, Keepthename, Creative Plan, and Laoban are just a few of the countless racehorses who have lost their lives due to the stress and strain of the for-profit business that creates them.

A common critique of political journalism is that it tends to focus on two candidates chasing each other in the polls, to the detriment of primary contenders and third-party options. This election cycle has felt more like a horse race than other recent ones, and the lesson that can be learned from the sport is that underdogs can—and do—win. It would serve the nation well if journalists took this lesson to heart when covering politics.