Horse racing is a sport in which horses and their jockeys compete to win a race. The horse that crosses the finish line first is declared the winner of the race. There are different rules depending on the type of race, but in general the participants must ride safely and obey the course’s instructions, including jumping any hurdles that may be present. Prize money, in various amounts depending on the race, is distributed to the winners and other runners who finished well enough.
There are essentially three types of people in horse racing: the crooks who dangerously drug their horses, the dupes who labor under the illusion that the industry is broadly fair and honest, and the honorable souls who know that it’s more crooked than it ought to be but won’t give their all to right it. It’s the third group, a vast, silent majority, that needs serious reform if the sport is to survive and thrive.
At Santa Anita in late March, when the Breeders’ Cup got underway, the stewards flooded the zone with veterinarians and expensive imaging equipment. They checked every animal for preexisting conditions and drug use. They watched them in morning workouts and with binoculars during races. They also listened for them as they galloped down the backstretch, their legs working like springs to propel them through huge strides of hypnotic smoothness.
But despite all the scrutiny, things went wrong. A few days before the event, one of the top horses in training, a 3-year-old named Satchel Paige, died at the track from an injury that the stewards couldn’t explain. “It’s just a very strange incident,” trainer Rick Alexander said at the kitchen table of his home in Southern California, where he worked Satchel and another horse for owner Gary Barber.
Then, on the day of the Breeders’ Cup, a video that seemed to show racing shills kicking down the doors of a slaughterhouse was posted online by PETA. Racing’s legions of apologists were quick to pounce, blaming the Times for hitching its wagon to the activists that insiders love to hate—but it’s a mistake to confuse hostility toward PETA with dismissal of its work. Virtually no one beyond the sport cares how PETA gets its undercover video of alleged animal cruelty; they only care about what’s in it.
As the vote count nears its end, many pundits are saying that it’s a horse race between Clinton and Trump. But what exactly do they mean when they refer to the election as a horse race? While the term is generally used to describe a political contest, there are actually two distinct horse races taking place: a Congressional race in the United States and a parliamentary election in the UK. The former is more important for the future of the US economy, as it will determine whether President Obama’s healthcare legislation passes; the latter will be a crucial test of British democracy. Both races have their own nuances and peculiarities, but both have a few key similarities.