A horse race is a form of betting in which punters bet on the finish order of several horses. The winner, runners-up, and third place finishers earn prize money based on the amount of money wagered on each. In the United States, the most popular type of horse race is a thoroughbred race, in which horses are bred specifically to compete in the sport. While the horse race is a popular form of wagering, critics say it trivializes politics and turns it into a form of entertainment that has nothing to do with voters’ real motives.
The horse race image has been used in elections since at least 1888, but its role has grown with the emergence of modern opinion polling techniques. Many newspapers use the horse race metaphor in their coverage of political campaigns, focusing on the candidates’ popularity, momentum, and size of lead rather than their qualifications or issue positions. These critics argue that horse race coverage contributes to depoliticization of politics and reduces it to a form of entertainment, even in the context of electoral debate.
Proponents of horse race journalism counter that the use of familiar sports language attracts interest in politics and makes it more accessible to a broad audience. They also say that the use of probability forecasts derived from opinion polling allows newsrooms to more accurately describe a candidate’s chances of winning.
In a horse race, handicaps are assigned to horses in order to make them compete on a more equal footing. A horse’s age and past performance are taken into account when handicapping; for example, a two-year-old is considered to be more immature than a three-year-old and thus must carry less weight during the race. Other factors, such as a horse’s gender and whether it is a filly or stallion, may also be considered in determining the weight a particular horse will carry during a race.
When a horse races, it must remain on the course at all times and follow the instructions of stewards. If it fails to do so, it may be disqualified and punished. Some of the most famous races in the world are horse races that include older horses, such as the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Caulfield and Sydney cups in Australia, and the Gran Premio Carlos Pellegrini in Argentina.
Although horse racing is not yet legal in all countries, many animals die as a result of the sport’s cruelty. According to the organization Horseracing Wrongs, a great number of racehorses, particularly those who do not win, are slaughtered and sold for meat in places such as Canada, Mexico, and Japan. The group estimates that ten thousand American thoroughbreds are killed every year. These animals are often abused and forced to run too far and too fast, then are killed in slaughterhouses. In addition, many horses are injured during races and do not recover.