A horse race is a contest of speed between horses, usually ridden by jockeys or pulled by sulkies. The race can be over a distance of any length, and the winner is declared when the winning horse crosses the finish line first. In some countries, horse races are regulated and are subject to penalties for violations of the rules. The races are also usually a form of gambling, and the total purse money is distributed after each race to the owners of the entrants who finish in one of the top four or five positions.
The horse racing industry is notorious for being rife with corruption and animal cruelty. Random drug testing is in place, but many trainers do not follow the rules, and abuse their animals. In the worst cases, these animals are injured or die, and may end up as food for slaughterhouses in Europe and Asia. Congress decided in 2020 that it was unwilling to see these animals killed for the amusement of racing enthusiasts, and passed legislation requiring the application of equine-safety standards. The new standards are now being enforced by the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority, and it appears that they are having a positive effect.
In the case of a horse race, the odds of a particular horse are calculated by multiplying its probability of winning by the amount it is expected to win. These odds are based on the relative abilities of the competing horses, as well as the track’s surface type and distance. A favorite horse is a horse with the lowest odds, while a longshot has the highest odds.
Horse racing has been a predominantly male sport, but in the 2022-2023 meet at Fair Grounds in Louisiana, three female jockeys – Aubrey Green, Erica Murray, and Sofia Barandela – rode winning horses in several graded stakes races. The women’s success is a sign that the sport is finally changing.
The term horse race is also used as a metaphor for any formidable contest or competition. For example, an election can be compared to a horse race because the result is often a close finish and involves many votes being cast. It can also refer to a tight, closely contested campaign in which all of the candidates must be carefully scrutinized and analyzed before the final decision is made.