Horse races are competitions in which horses race against one another over an allotted distance and course, usually on dirt tracks. Historically, they were winner-take-all affairs; however, modern wagering systems have changed this dynamic and allowed bettors to place different types of bets, most commonly parimutuels which award the winning bettors with all their money (minus an administrative deduction from the track) after being decided as winners by other bettors (subject to any percentage deduction by the track).
Technological advances and changes to safety measures have contributed significantly to horse racing’s growing popularity. Since a series of horse deaths at Santa Anita (including 30 at this year’s racetrack!) many states have implemented protocols requiring necropsy examination after each death and an analysis by officials of contributing factors that led to it.
Horses compete in different divisions based on their racing ability. Equine athletes at the pinnacle of performance are called champions; three major American classics–Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes–form the Triple Crown series of races and are overseen by The Jockey Club as part of its governance of this sport.
Top horses in each division receive numerous types of awards, from earnings and trophies to jockey and trainer championships. A new development in horse racing is probabilistic forecasting, which uses polling data to create an accurate probability for winning horses based on polls conducted. Its goal is to improve betting decisions while making horse racing more accessible to a wider audience over time.
Horse racing’s training process involves physical and psychological exercises designed to maximize horse performance. Some key activities include lungeing, galloping and grazing which allow horses to release excess energy while building endurance levels and preventing injuries.
Horses can also be trained to run over specific distances and tracks. For instance, they might be instructed to run both six furlong sprints and nine furlong routes for optimal performance in shorter and longer races.
Speed figures of horses are an invaluable indicator of their future success. Calculated by comparing each race’s raw time against its career mean speed figure, this number identifies which horses generally outrun their careers average by age 3 1/4; thereafter any differences tend to become negative and vice versa.