Horse racing is an Olympic-esque spectator sport in which horses compete against one another to showcase speed and stamina. Since its conception centuries ago, this activity has expanded from being an entertainment for leisure class audiences into an industry with multibillion-dollar industries with sophisticated monitoring equipment and staggering prize pools. But its basic concept remains unchanged – early races featured two horses competing over open fields or roads and were judged by professional jockeys known as jockeys; wealthy noblemen and aristocrats who owned these animals would pay them to ride these animals on horseback before their ownership; these jockeys would then perform tasks such as feeding or bathing them for them – while jockeys would then collect payment to ride these contests over open fields or roads, just like modern horse racing does today.
By the 1700s, standardised rules had evolved for horse races and regulations had been set regarding eligibility based on age, sex, birthplace and past performance. Horses carried weights based on size and class; jockeys were appointed by owners with allowances made for fillies; handicapping was applied based on distance of races as well as history of winning or finishing in various positions.
18th and 19th-century riders continued to shape the sport, using sulkys and new training methods on horses. Dash racing also gained in prominence at this time, increasing the importance of each yard raced; riders relied more on skill, judgment and coaxing their mount to give an advantage at each turn. Meanwhile, whips, tongue-ties and spurs became more widespread–many instances remaining legal despite their devastating long-term health impacts on animals.
Today’s most renowned flat races take place across Europe and Asia; such as the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Melbourne Cup, Japan Cup, Epsom Derby and Kentucky Derby. In America, Triple Crown race Belmont Stakes features three separate events held over one mile and a quarter – the classic distance for any race.
However, horse racing also has its dark side; many young horses die tragically during race day or training sessions. Growing awareness of this industry’s cruelty has caused many people to boycott it altogether and has spurred an examination into horse racing’s ethics and integrity in response to tragedies like Eight Belles and Medina Spirit’s deaths.