A horse race is a competition between horses to determine which will finish in first place. It is one of the world’s most popular sports, with races held almost every day at various tracks throughout the world. Many of these races are open to members of the public to watch.
An artificial racing surface used for Thoroughbred races in Britain and Ireland. These tracks stage races throughout the summer and winter on surfaces such as polytrack, fibresand, or tapeta. A jockey that rides a horse in a race and receives a fee for their services. Professional jockeys wear riding clothes, helmets and boots while riding, and they must stand on official weighing scales before and after a race to make sure that they do not carry more weight than they have been allotted. Some races are restricted to amateur jockeys, who are denoted on the racecard with a prefix such as Mr, Mrs, Miss or Captain.
The group of historic major three-year-old races in Europe (and some other countries). The five Classics are the 2,000 Guineas, 1,000 Guineas, Oaks, Derby and St Leger, although most European countries have their own versions of these famous events. A racehorse aimed at one of these races is called a Classic contender.
A system of adjusting the amount of weight that a horse carries during a race on the basis of its age and other factors. For example, a two-year-old carries less weight than a five-year-old, and there are also sex allowances for fillies, which see them carry lower weights than males.
A horse whose owner or trainer has paid to have its weight reduced for a particular race. This is usually a small bet and is not guaranteed to win, but it can improve the chances of a horse placing in the top three by reducing its handicapping weight.
Unlike the for-profit for-profit politics of human elections, thoroughbred racing doesn’t have an industry-sponsored wraparound aftercare system for horses once they no longer serve its purposes. Without this, countless ex-racehorses such as Eight Belles, Medina Spirit, Keepthename, Creative Plan and Laoban end up in slaughter pipelines where they are given just a Facebook post and a brief window of opportunity to be rescued before being sent for immediate death in Mexico or Canada.
Growing awareness of the dark side of horse racing has fueled improvements in care for racehorses. But there is much more work to do before this sport catches up to our modern culture and justice systems that recognize animals as having fundamental rights. If racing wants to survive, it should start by addressing the issue of its own aftercare system. This would require the creation of a national database for all thoroughbreds so that they could be traced and followed from track to track and from there into the broader society. Until then, we can only imagine the horrific ends that await countless more Eight Belles and tens of thousands of other horses.