What is a Horse Race?

A horse race is a competition between one or more horses on a track. It has been practiced in civilizations around the world since ancient times. Many of today’s best Thoroughbred horses are bred and trained to compete in races. Horse racing is also an important part of legend and myth, such as the chariot race between Odin and Hrungnir in Norse mythology. Horses in horse races are often whipped to make them run faster, and this can cause injuries such as cracked leg bones. They are usually confined to small spaces in which they live, and they may be forced to run at speeds that put them at risk of traumatic breakdowns or even hemorrhaging in their lungs. Injuries are common in horse races, and even a single crash can be fatal for them. In addition, horses are often raced before they have fully matured, which can lead to developmental disorders such as laminitis and bucked teeth. The term horse race is most often used in reference to an equestrian event in which a group of people attempt to win a race by betting on individual horses. In the United States, horse races are regulated by the state, and bettors can place bets in person or online. In Europe, races are governed by the Union of European National Associations of Horse Breeders and Trainers, which sets rules and regulations for the sport. While many spectators cheer on their favorite jockeys and sip mint juleps at the races, horse racing is a dark and dangerous world. Behind the romanticized facade, horse races are a scene of drug abuse and cruelty—with some of the highest rates of horse deaths in the world. Last year, a horse named Medina Spirit died at Santa Anita after being forced to run at high speed. Congress has since passed new safety standards for the sport, but a number of scandals have tarnished the industry’s image. A major type of horse race is the handicapped race, in which the weights that competing horses carry are adjusted based on their age or sex. For example, a two-year-old horse carries less weight than a three-year-old, and fillies carry fewer pounds than males. Research shows that when journalists frame elections as competitive games —what’s known as horse race reporting — voters, candidates and the news media suffer. A growing body of academic studies finds that when journalists focus primarily on who’s winning and losing, rather than on policy issues, the public loses out. This collection of academic studies examines the consequences of horse race reporting from multiple angles. It includes several papers that investigate the role of probabilistic forecasting, as well as the error in interpreting opinion polls. It also looks at how this type of strategic reporting might discourage voting among young people, a demographic that is crucial to democracy. Finally, the collection examines how corporate-owned and chain newspapers are more likely to report on horse race politics than independent or local newspapers.