How Can a Horse Race Be Disrupted?

horse race

A horse race is a contest of speed between horses that are either ridden by jockeys or pulled by sulkies and their drivers. The sport is a worldwide sport with many different national horse racing organizations that may have slightly differing rules concerning how races should be run. However, most national rulebooks are very similar and based on the British Horseracing Authority’s original rulebook.

The first major step in organized horse racing took place in 1664 when Colonel Richard Nicolls established the sport in New York City and based it on the British system. Before that time, horses were often bred for stamina rather than speed and the sport was not well organized.

When the best-laid plans for a race are disrupted, it can be very frustrating for everyone involved. Sometimes, a scheduled race does not fill or an extra race suddenly appears and that will throw a wrench in the plans for trainers and owners who have been preparing their horses for certain spots on the schedule. It also can change the travel plans for owners and jockeys who have been anticipating a race at a specific track on a particular date.

In addition to the obvious scheduling issues, there are a number of other factors that can make a race difficult to run. These can include the weather, a problem with a track, or even an issue with a single horse. In these cases, the trainer and owner will need to be creative in trying to get the horse into a race and that can take some out of the box thinking.

Another factor that can complicate a race is the issue of a photo finish. If two horses come across the line within a hair’s width of each other, a photo must be taken and studied by stewards to determine who won. Typically, this is done by examining the horse’s stride length and comparing it to the horse’s stride in the photograph. If the stewards are not able to determine which horse won, then the dead heat rules must be followed.

Despite the romanticized facade of Thoroughbred horse racing that is shown to spectators in the luxury suites and on the big screen, the sport is filled with drug abuse, gruesome breakdowns, and slaughter. Behind the scenes, the horses are forced to sprint—often under the threat of whips and illegal electric-shock devices—at speeds that can cause serious injuries and hemorrhage from the lungs.

As a result of the hard running that goes into a race, most horses have to be injected with Lasix in order to prevent pulmonary bleeding. This medication is noted on the race form with a bold face “L.” It’s not as common these days, but horses still do suffer from bleeding. In some instances, this can be fatal for the horses.