What is a Horse Race?

A horse race is a contest of speed between horses, either ridden by jockeys or pulled by sulkies and their drivers. It can also refer to a competition that involves close rivalry or intense fighting, such as an election campaign. The term is also used in the title of a book or movie that tells a story about a horse race.

A growing awareness of the dark side of horse racing has fueled these improvements, and PETA promises to continue putting pressure on the industry. Its groundbreaking investigations have documented abusive training practices for young horses, drug use on the track, and the fate of countless American thoroughbreds who are sent to slaughter in foreign slaughterhouses.

In 2008, the trainer of a champion racehorse named Big Brown boasted publicly about the powerful legal steroid he was giving his star animal. The next day, the mighty thoroughbred collapsed in the final furlong of the Belmont Stakes and died. The incident sparked a major scandal and led to the end of big-race drug doping in the United States.

Most horse races are standardized, and a horse’s performance can be influenced by the weight it must carry, its position relative to the inside barrier, sex, and training. Historically, horse race weights have been based on the horses’ class, distance, age, and sex allowance (female horses must be given three to five pounds less when running against males).

The original King’s Plates were standardized races for six-year-old horses that carried 168 pounds in four-mile heats; a horse must win two of the heats to be adjudged the winner. By 1751, heat racing had largely been replaced by the modern system of fixed weights, and the races were reduced to 2-mile sprints.

Researchers have found that corporate-owned, chain newspapers are more likely to frame elections as a horse race than smaller, independent papers. These stories are especially common when races are close and in the weeks leading up to Election Day.

The term horse race is a broad one, and it can be applied to any close form of competition. For example, in political races, a horse race can mean a tight contest between candidates in key swing states. It can also refer to the mudslinging, name calling and attack ads that characterize many campaigns. This election cycle, however, has felt less like a horse race than many in the past.