Horse race is an event in which horses compete for prize money. In North America, horses are often classified according to their age and performance level. This classification system is known as a handicap, which assigns varying amounts of weight to each horse to ensure that the best horses win. These weights may be determined centrally where racing is so controlled or by individual tracks, and the goal of these weights is to allow a wide range of horses to compete at a level that reflects their abilities. The more immature a horse is, the lower its weight. The weights of older, more experienced horses are higher.
The sport of horse racing is often portrayed as glamorous, and while it is indeed beautiful to watch, the truth is that horses are running for their lives. Behind the romanticized facade lies a world of injuries, drug abuse and gruesome breakdowns. Thousands of racing horses die every year, mostly because of the exorbitant physical stress of the sport.
In nature, horses instinctively understand the importance of self-preservation. They know how to avoid injury, to rest and heal. They never voluntarily run at breakneck speeds, as they do on a track with humans perched on their backs, forcing them forward with whips. They are pushed to such a degree that they often suffer severe injuries and death, including cardiovascular collapse, heart failure, pulmonary hemorrhage and broken legs, sometimes so severely that skin is the only thing holding the limb together.
The fact is that most horses are not even remotely fit for racing, and the sport itself contributes to their poor health. Breeding 1,000-pound thoroughbreds for massive torsos and spindly legs creates a recipe for disaster. A horse does not reach full maturity — that is, the bones of its spine and neck have fused and stopped growing and absorbing new bone tissue — until around six years of age. But the typical racehorse is thrust into intensive training at the age of 18 months and is pushed to its limits as soon as it enters the races, as early as two years old.
To make matters worse, the most lucrative races – those with the largest purses – are frequently given preferential coverage in the media. This practice skews the odds of winning and can shortchange third-party candidates, who tend to receive a smaller share of public support and therefore are less likely to win. Researchers have just started examining the impact of this form of biased news coverage, which is often called “horse race reporting.” The studies find that this type of reporting helps to catapult frontrunners who receive a lot of positive attention from opinion polls and to minimize the likelihood that underdogs can make a surprise victory. The repercussions of this type of election news coverage have important implications for democracy.