Horse races are among the most popular sporting events in the world. While the sport’s roots date back to ancient times – from Greek chariot races and Roman gladiator contests to Bedouin endurance races in the Arabian desert – modern racing was founded in England at Newmarket in the 1600s. While betting on the outcome of a race is often the sole reason many people attend a horse race, there are also other ways to participate in the sport including placing bets on accumulator bets.
In the United States, horses must complete a series of races known as the “condition book” before they can be entered in a stakes race. The condition book is an important tool for the horse’s manager, trainer and owner who must keep track of the progress of their entrant. This includes the amount of money they must win or lose to qualify for a certain race, the number of points they must gain or lose in order to make the handicap and other vital information.
Once a horse has progressed through the maiden, claiming and starter allowance ranks it can enter conditioned claiming races. These are more competitive and a bit harder to win than the open claiming races that follow them. However, even with conditioned claiming races it can be difficult for some horses to win because of the higher purses associated with the stakes. Some trainers may over-medicate their horses or over-train them, which eventually breaks them down. Many of these horses are then shipped off to auction where they face untimely, often painful deaths. Some are euthanized and others are seized by authorities or bought by private slaughterhouses where they are tortured, hanged and then skinned for their meat.
In the modern era, a number of organizations have emerged to help former racehorses find good homes. These organizations are made up of independent and governmental groups that network, fundraise and volunteer to place ex-racehorses in good care. Ultimately, however, the industry must address its lack of an adequately funded wraparound aftercare solution for all horses leaving the track. If not for these independent nonprofits and individuals, ex-racehorses would hemorrhage into the slaughter pipeline where they would die or be sold to slaughterhouses that charge arbitrary ransoms for the life of an animal that has been trained to be a racehorse. It is time for the industry to take action. This is not only the right thing to do, but it will also save lives. For the sake of all the horses, it is time for racing to evolve into a more responsible industry. To do this, the industry must adopt an animal welfare code that will reflect a modern society, culture and legal system that recognizes all animals as entitled to fundamental rights at the least. This is the only way that horse racing can survive in a global market.