An animal-powered, fast-paced sport of equestrian skill and endurance. Bettors place bets on the chances of a particular horse winning a race. Some races are regulated, and the winners declared by a panel of judges. Other races, such as the Melbourne Cup, are famous for attracting millions of people to watch them.
A thoroughbred is a breed of horse bred for speed, endurance and athleticism. A jockey is the person who rides a racehorse. Trainers prepare the horses for racing by exercising them on a track and teaching them to run at a specific speed. The trainers also set the tempo of the race, and make sure the horses are properly rested before they enter the starting gate.
When a horse starts to run, the jockey uses a whip to guide it through turns and to spur it on during the last stretch. As a result of this vigorous exercise, a horse may become dehydrated, and its blood sugar levels drop. To prevent this, a trainer will give the horse a shot of a drug called Lasix. The drug is designed to reduce the amount of water a horse loses during running and to enhance its performance.
Some horse races are handicapped, which means the horses must carry a certain weight based on their previous performances. This system is meant to level the playing field, and it gives young, less-experienced racehorses an advantage over more seasoned rivals. There are also sex allowances, which allow female horses to compete against males.
In some prestigious races, such as the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in France and the Caulfield and Sydney cups in Australia, the top contenders are allocated different amounts of weight for the race.
But even before the advent of Lasix, most horses were doped, using cocktails of legal and illegal drugs that mask injuries and artificially enhance performance. As a result, racing officials often struggled to keep up with new doping methods. And punishments were rarely harsh enough. This was true in part because the industry was so lucrative, and it did not want to be seen as dishonest or unfair to bettors.