A horse race is a contest between riders on horses. In modern times, most of these races are held on a track in the form of a circle or oval that is fenced and has turns. The winner of the race is determined by a number of factors, including speed and distance covered. Often, there are other prizes awarded as well, such as for the best looking horse. The sport of horse racing dates back to ancient times. In fact, there is some evidence that informal contests between riders on horseback took place everywhere that horses were able to be trained and domesticated.
The sport of horse racing has long been a popular entertainment for spectators and gamblers. The popularity of the sport has waned since the end of World War II, however, as it has increasingly had to compete with professional and collegiate team sports for fan attention. Additionally, growing awareness of the dark side of the horse racing industry has fueled efforts to improve conditions for horses, both at home and abroad.
Traditionally, only purebred horses are allowed to compete in American horse races. The Jockey Club controls what types of horses may run in each type of race. A horse is considered purebred if its sire and dam are both purebred individuals of the same breed as the racehorse. In order to be eligible to race in a graded (I, II or III) race, a horse must have won races of that level in the past.
A spokesman for the Jockey Club has stated that centrally controlled rules strike the right balance between horse welfare and protecting the integrity of the sport. A key element of the rules is that a horse must be registered with the Jockey Club in order to compete in a race. The organization also sets minimum standards for training, weights, and other conditions.
In addition to these requirements, a horse is also required to have a pedigree in order to race. In a standard flat race, the horse’s sire and dam must both be purebred individual horses of the same breed in order to be eligible to compete. In a harness race, the horse’s sire anddam must both be purebred individual horses of either the Standardbred or Thoroughbred breeds.
Another important part of horse racing is the handicap system. In a handicap race, the racing secretary assigns a set of weights that are designed to equalize the chances of each horse competing in the race. This is done by studying the horses’ records and determining their ability to win the race. The racing secretary can also assign sex allowances, meaning that fillies carry less weight than males in a given race.
A jockey who rides a horse under a hand ride is called a “handy.” In a hand ride, a jockey uses his hands to urge the animal on rather than using a whip. While the use of whips is widely condemned by animal rights groups, some jockeys still choose to ride their horses with such equipment, which can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort to the animals. A specific type of whip, known as a jigger, is also illegal in most racing jurisdictions, as it can deliver an electric shock to the animal and causes severe pain and distress.