Horse racing is one of the oldest sports on earth, but it has benefited from a wide range of technological advances in recent years. From thermal imaging cameras to MRI scanners, X-rays to endoscopes, and 3D printing to produce casts and splints, technology has improved race track safety and enabled veterinarians to diagnose and treat injuries in real time.
The influx of new technology has also made it possible for researchers to analyze data and identify patterns that may help predict the outcome of races. While conventional horse race reporting focuses on political candidates losing or gaining support in polls, academic studies are beginning to examine how new predictive methods can be used to improve the accuracy of the odds of a race.
A race in which horses compete against each other for a fixed prize fund. Prize money in horse races is usually based on the number of horses entered and the amount of betting action placed on each race.
Before a horse begins its race, it is put through an exercise called the walking ring, where it stretches and flexes its muscles in preparation for exertion. The walk ring is also a place where bettors can observe a horse’s demeanor in the lead up to the starting gate, assessing whether it appears relaxed and confident. If a horse appears agitated or nervous, it is said to be “bent,” and it will not win the race.
When the bell rings to begin a race, the horses enter the starting gate and line up in rows based on their ability. As they are pulled forward, a jockey mounts them and takes control of their reins. The horses then race down the track, often in a straight line.
Many horse races are handicapped, meaning that the weights a horse must carry are adjusted on the basis of age, distance, and sex (females have lower weights than males). In general, a horse is considered to reach its peak at the age of five.
The last thing a trainer wants to see is a horse bleeding during the race, a condition known as exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH). This is why nearly all thoroughbreds receive a drug called Lasix on race day. This is marked on the racing form with a boldface L, and it works by acting as a diuretic that causes the horses to lose epic amounts of urine (sometimes up to twenty or thirty pounds).
In addition to the physical abuse that can occur during training and in races, horses are subjected to an array of chemical cocktails to mask injuries and boost performance. These drugs are used for both legal and illegal purposes, including to mask the presence of painkillers and stimulants. Despite these issues, increasing awareness of the cruelty of the sport has helped fuel improvements in horse racing. However, even with the best of intentions, some trainers are still using cruel training practices to push their horses to extreme limits.