Horse races are competitions involving two or more horses competing to reach an objective in a short amount of time, usually setting out either to finish first or second or win an amount known as the prize purse. Horse races are open to anyone willing to wager; betting often occurs through either bookmakers or online gambling websites.
U.S. horse races are governed by state law, with many states having special racehorse treatment laws including veterinarian oversight, medication regulations and euthanasia guidelines. Furthermore, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service oversees this industry and investigates allegations of animal cruelty.
While progress can be seen within the horse racing industry, it remains far from flourishing as an art. Although horse racing once held an impressive place among America’s spectator sports following World War II, by 2004 racing had fallen to just below half in terms of spectator interest among team and individual sports. Furthermore, track patronage numbers have decreased drastically; most patrons tend to be older men which makes competing with major professional and college sports for attention more difficult than before.
Union cavalrymen supported thoroughbred breeding during the Civil War as they needed fast horses for combat duties, which marked a turning point in American horse breeding history. Following this eventful decade there was a dramatic surge in numbers as well as introduction of stakes races and an explosion of passion within this unique sport.
Since that time, horse races have seen their popularity fluctuate depending on economic conditions and trends. Though horse race coverage remains a staple of mainstream media outlets, horse racing industry professionals have struggled to meet modern society’s requirements and keep up with public concerns regarding animal welfare.
As a result, racing’s image has been marred by scandal and controversy, from doping allegations to mistreatment of young racehorses. In response, horse racing industry improvements include improved veterinary care services, safer training methods and racing surfaces as well as new laws governing euthanasia/drug usage and greater public transparency surrounding horseracing’s inner workings.
The horse-racing industry must address its culture of corruption and cruelty if it hopes to recover, starting with video published by The Times that sent shockwaves through the community: it showed what critics have long suspected: an extensive system of neglect and cruelty at every level of thoroughbred racing.