The Real World of Horse Racing

horse race

Behind the romanticized facade of horse racing is a world of drugs, injuries, and gruesome breakdowns. While spectators strut in fancy clothes and sip mint juleps, horses sprint – often to their deaths.

A horse can be disqualified before, during, or after a race. This is usually due to performance-enhancing substances or other illegal activities.


Horse racing is an equestrian sport in which horses are ridden by jockeys over a set distance. It is one of the world’s oldest sports and has been practiced in many different cultures throughout history. It is a dangerous sport for the horses and the jockeys, who must travel at high speeds and jump obstacles. The sport also puts horses at risk of developmental problems such as cracked leg bones and hooves.

The sport of horse racing originated in the Greek Olympic Games between 700 and 40 B.C.E. It later spread to China, Persia, and Arabia. It eventually reached Europe, where it evolved into the Thoroughbred breed of horse.


The winner of a horse race is awarded a specified amount of prize money. This amount is usually based on the number of horses entered in the competition. For example, if there are twelve horses in the race, 60% of the prize money goes to the winner, 13% to second place, 4% to third, and 1% each to fourth through twelfth places.

The prize money for a race can be significantly increased by television and online simulcasting rights. The fees for these rights are paid to the stewards of the race and can be substantial.

In addition to the above rules, jockeys are prohibited from using their riding crop for anything other than safety and correction purposes. If they are caught doing so, they may be disqualified.


Horse racing is a demanding sport that requires a lot of physical effort from its participants. The prize money offered by a race can be quite significant depending on the quality of the field and the prestige of the event. The world famous Saudi Cup for instance offers a staggering prize fund of $30.2 million!

The prize money is what encourages trainers, jockeys, and owners to invest time and energy in preparing their horses for a race. However, many people wonder where this magical pot of prize money comes from. The answer is that it is mostly from betting revenues. The lion’s share of the prize money is awarded to the winner while stable staff and industry causes get around 4% each.


Horse racing is an incredibly dangerous sport for horses and their riders, called jockeys. Falls are common, and horses often suffer from injuries to their bones, legs, and hooves. They are also frequently raced before they’re fully grown, putting them at risk of developmental problems.

Serious injuries such as broken legs are difficult to treat, and horses that cannot recover from them may be euthanized. Injuries to muscles, ligaments, and tendons can also occur, especially when horses are pushed too hard. This can cause Exercise Induced Pulmonary Haemorrhage, a condition in which horses’ lungs are bleeding. This is caused by high speed running and galloping.


The use of drugs during horse race is a major concern for many people. While drugs that seek to enhance peak performance levels are the focus of the public’s attention, racing also faces problems with medications designed to mask injuries and artificially improve performance.

Medication regulations are meant to eliminate the use of illegal drugs while allowing trainers to use therapeutic drugs. These drugs are permitted by racing authorities and have withdrawal periods. Trainers must be familiar with these rules to avoid medication violations.

In one case, a veterinarian was charged with running an extensive scheme to supply trainers and others in the horse racing industry with “untestable” performance-enhancing drugs for use in professional horse racing. This was a multi-year operation.


For every thoroughbred that dies on a racetrack, dozens more are shipped to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico. This is a side of racing that most people never see and rarely hear about.

Meat buyers buy horses at livestock auctions and then truck them to slaughter. The meat is sold in Europe and elsewhere as an alternative to beef. But because of potentially lethal drug residues in horse meat, the practice has been banned by the European Union.

Covert footage from an investigation by Animal Aid shows that rules meant to protect the horses from a cruel death are often breached. This includes shooting them together and not ensuring they die quickly enough.