A horse race is a sporting event in which participants ride horses to compete for prize money. The horses are guided around a course by their jockeys, who must follow the rules of the race and jump every hurdle (if present). Winners receive some or all of the prize money. The remainder is split among the second and third place finishers, depending on the specific race. The stewards of the race can disqualify a jockey if they suspect he or she has not ridden in accordance with the rules.
An important factor determining how far back a horse finishes in a race is its pace. A fast pace is usually favorable, but a slow one can make a horse tired quickly. A horse with a good pace has a strong chance of winning.
The pace of the race is usually reflected on the odds board, which indicates how many bettors think the winning horse will cover a certain number of lengths at a certain speed. A horse with a good pace is considered an overlay, and a horse with a poor pace is an underlay.
In order to improve the chances of winning a race, horses are given cocktails of legal and illegal drugs that are designed to mask injuries and increase their performance. A horse that is injured and bleeding, for instance, may bleed from its lungs (exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage). The drug Lasix (synonym Salix) helps to decrease this problem.
As the sport evolved, the need to gain an edge over the other competitors became more pressing. As a result, the jockeys started using whips to get their mounts to run faster. This was particularly important in races where a horse’s chances of finishing well depended on the skill and judgment of its jockey.
Several different types of bets can be placed on horse races, including win, place, and exotic bets. The latter type of bets require the player to select more than one horse to win. Winning bettors are paid based on the amount of money wagered, minus a 5% deduction by the track.
For most bettors, the simplest way to wager on horse races is by placing an antepost bet. These bets are made on a horse before the actual race and can be placed as early as a year in advance.
An antepost bet is an outright bet on a particular horse, which is typically offered at higher odds than the general price. The antepost price is higher because the bettor must take into account that a horse may not start in the race, which could alter the odds of the bet. The antepost price also takes into account that the horse is unlikely to win the race.