The Dangers of Horse Race Reporting

A horse race is a competition between horses in which the winner is determined by the first to cross the finish line. This is one of the most popular sports in many countries around the world. The race is typically over a distance of several miles. The horses are bred specifically for the sport and are usually of one of a number of different breeds. The most popular breeds include thoroughbreds, American-bred, and Irish-bred.

Horse racing is a dangerous sport that is plagued by drug use and neglect of the animals involved. Thousands of horses die every year from the exorbitant physical stress of racing and training. The deaths of Eight Belles and Medina Spirit, champions who died in the most famous horse races in America, sparked a moment of reckoning for the industry. Yet, this moment of truth did not lead to a wholesale reformation of the business model to make the best interests of the horse the primary concern of the industry. Instead, the business of racing continues on its present path with an unsustainable, for-profit model that robs its horses of the right to life, health and a prosperous future.

Despite the efforts of a few courageous people who network, fundraise and work tirelessly on behalf of these horses, it is clear that racing can only change its crooked ways if a majority of the industry participates in an ethical overhaul. At the very least, this transformation must begin with a robust, fully funded industry-sponsored wraparound aftercare solution for all horses leaving the track. Without this, the lives of ex-racehorses like Eight Belles and Medina Spirit – as well as Keepthename, Creative Plan, Laoban and countless others — will continue to hemorrhage into a slaughter pipeline that offers them nothing more than Facebook posts and a brief window of opportunity to be “bailed.”

When journalists report on elections by focusing exclusively on who is winning or losing – a practice known as horse race reporting – voters, candidates and the news media suffer, a growing body of research shows. Moreover, this type of biased coverage may contribute to the misallocation of resources in our democracy. The academic literature on this topic includes studies that examine horse race reporting during presidential elections, the effects of partisanship on opinion polling, and errors in interpreting opinion polls. This collection of research, along with other articles on this site that explore the problems with horse race reporting, is a resource for anyone interested in a deeper understanding of this issue.