Horse racing is the sport in which a human, called a jockey, mounts a spirited animal and attempts to guide it over a course of jumps or hurdles while spectators watch. A win results in a prize money payout to the owner of the winning horse. While some criticize the sport as inhumane, others feel that the horse race is a great American pastime.
The horse race is not an easy event for horses to run, and they are frequently injured in the process. Some injuries, such as a pulled suspensory ligament, are severe and can result in the death of the horse. Others, such as an injury to the hoof, can be minor and require only a few weeks to heal.
During the nineteenth century, demand for horse races increased, and rules were developed to ensure that only healthy, trained animals were eligible to enter races. Eligibility was based on age, sex, birthplace and previous performance. Races were also created for different distances, with a range of classes, allowing the public to choose their preferred type of race.
A horse that has been placed in the starting gate of a race is called the favorite. The odds on the favorite are higher than those on any other horse in a given race. A favorite that wins a race is said to have ‘knocked off’ its opponents.
White plastic rails are used to mark out the track on a racecourse. The rails nearest to the grandstand are referred to as the stands rails while those on the opposite side of the track are known as the far rails. A horse ‘on the rails’ means that it is running close to the rails, which helps it keep a straight line in a race finish. A horse ‘against the rails’, however, is not following this strategy, and may be caught up in a pack of runners.
The amount of money paid to a winner is known as the purse. This is usually a large sum of money, and a percentage of the total pool is distributed to placers and show bettors.
A race where two or more horses tie for first place is called a dead-heat. In the case of a dead-heat, half the winning bet is applied to each horse at full odds. In betting, ‘win’ bets are the most popular way to stake money on a race. In a’show’ bet, the aim is to select the winner and runner-up in the correct order.
The main reason for a jockey to ride a horse is to get it into the lead at the start of a race, but in some situations a rider will be instructed to ride a horse to’show’ instead. This is because placing bets pay out much lower on average than win bets, although they are still worth doing if you can find a good horse to back.