What is a Horse Race?
A horse race is a sporting event in which horses compete for the best time around a track. The tracks can be flat or over a course of jumps, on turf, sand, or synthetic surfaces. The horses may be ridden or driven, and a variety of tack and equipment is used. People make bets on the outcome of a race, making it a profitable industry for bookies. Horse racing has a long history of controversy and corruption, and in recent years it has been impacted by technological advances and growing awareness of animal welfare issues.
During the early years of the American Republic, horse races were a national sensation and drew crowds that rivaled those of presidential elections. In 1823, a race between Eclipse and Sir Henry at Union Course, on Long Island, drew an estimated seventy thousand spectators.
In recent decades, however, horse racing has been in decline. In part, that’s because of the rise of casinos, which have absorbed many patrons once attracted by thoroughbred betting. But the decline is also due to a number of factors, including declining public interest in politics, the soaring costs of breeding and training, and an increasingly negative image of the sport.
The last big boost for horse racing came in the form of the gambling industry, which has subsidized some racetracks with billions of dollars in profits. In some states, the money from casinos is channeled back to state racing commissions and breeders, so that a portion of casino profits is invested in horse racing.
While the gambling industry has helped resuscitate some races, its presence has damaged others. Those with high stakes, such as the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the Caulfield and Sydney cups in Australia, and the Gran Premio Carlos Pellegrini in Argentina, attract large crowds that are attracted by the prospect of big prizes.
These events also often feature races for older horses, sometimes referred to as “routes” in the United States and “staying races” in Europe. Although the oldest horses can still win these races, they are not as fast as the youngsters and are disadvantaged by the rules that govern distances in flat races. Nevertheless, the old-timers still enjoy a special place in the hearts of gamblers and fans. Their wisdom, wit, and charm can soothe the disappointment of those who lost. The horse race is a timeless spectacle, and the stories of the great old-timers are worth telling. This collection of research, dating from 2019 and periodically updated, explores the impact of the horse race coverage on voters, candidates, and newsrooms themselves. In particular, researchers have recently begun examining the effect of a new type of horse race journalism called probabilistic forecasting. This approach uses sophisticated statistical techniques to more precisely predict a candidate’s chances of winning over another. This is more accurate than traditional polling, which can lead to inaccurate and misleading reports about the odds of a race. It can also give novel or unusual third-party candidates an edge and hurt mainstream newsrooms’ reputations for impartiality.