What is a Horse Race?

A horse race is a competition in which horses, guided by jockeys, are ridden over a set course of distance and time. A horse race may be run on dirt, turf or other surfaces and may be contested in a variety of ways, including a handicap. The outcome is determined by a combination of speed, endurance and other physical attributes. Many racetracks feature betting windows, where patrons can place wagers on the winner of a particular race. In the United States, race results are published and broadcast in newspapers and on television.

The sport of horse racing dates to ancient Greece, where chariot races were popular. In the modern era, Thoroughbred horse breeders and owners have developed various systems to improve the performance of their animals. These include limiting the number of days a horse can work, putting weight on the backs of racehorses to increase their stamina and introducing steroid injections into the animal’s body to improve their endurance and acceleration. The Jockey Club, the breed’s registry in North America, seeks to promote clean horse racing, but this effort often meets with controversy.

Whether in the private suites or the bleachers down below, most of the crowd at Santa Anita is working class. Its members frequently gather to watch banks of TV monitors in the grandstand, even when it is not a big racing day. Their roars, in Spanish and Chinese and other languages, have the rhythm of horse race curses.

When journalists covering elections focus primarily on who’s winning or losing instead of policy issues — a strategy known as horse race coverage — voters, candidates and the news industry itself suffer, a growing body of research suggests. Researchers Johanna Dunaway and Regina G. Lawrence, for example, analyzed more than 10,000 print newspaper articles about elections for governor and the U.S. Senate in 2004 and 2006. They found that corporate-owned newspapers were more likely to publish stories that frame elections as a competitive game, relying heavily on public opinion polls and giving the most positive attention to frontrunners while neglecting underdogs who are gaining support.

The sport of horse racing was brought to the United States by the British in 1664. Col. Richard Nicolls established organized racing by laying out a 2-mile (3.2-km) course on Long Island and offering silver cups to the top thoroughbreds in spring and fall. Nicolls’ system emphasized stamina rather than speed, a style that continued until after the Civil War, when speed became the hallmark of excellence for American Thoroughbreds.