A horse race is a competition in which horses are ridden by humans to win monetary prizes. The practice has a long history, dating back to ancient times, and has been an important part of the culture of many civilizations, including Ancient Greece, Rome, Babylon, Syria, Egypt, and Arabia. Originally, horse racing was a sport in which wealthy patrons placed wagers on individual horses, but in the 19th century the advent of railroads allowed races to become more public and broader in scope. In modern times, wagers are made on a combination of factors, including the horse’s pedigree, age, sex, birthplace, and previous performance in similar events.
The horses used for racing are usually Thoroughbreds or other purebreds. They are typically bred to compete in various types of races, which include flat and jumps (across hurdles). The sport is regulated by national and international bodies and is governed by a series of laws and regulations designed to ensure the safety and welfare of the animals involved. Those laws, which have been passed by Congress, require the use of drugs that prevent horses from sustaining severe injuries during races.
Despite these measures, hundreds of horses die every year from racing-related injuries and are euthanized at the track or in private stables. The deaths have drawn criticism of the industry from animal rights advocates, who argue that horses are pushed past their limits and overdosed on drugs in the effort to win races.
To be eligible to run in a race, horses must have a pedigree that includes a sire and dam who are both purebred individuals of the same breed as the horse. The horse must also meet certain weight and age requirements. A race may also have restrictions based on the track, time of year, sex allowances, and other factors.
A jockey is a professional rider who rides the horse during a race. Jockeys are tasked with controlling the horse and encouraging it to run its best, which requires a great deal of skill. A rider’s job is a dangerous one, and jockeys have been known to die in accidents during races.
Spectators who attend horse races are called fans. They often wear hats and silks, which designate the owner of a particular horse. They may cheer for specific horses by name, such as Seabiscuit. They may also cheer for a horse’s number, such as three.
The earliest recorded accounts of horse racing occur in ancient Greece, where it was part of the Olympics from 700 to 40 B.C. The sport spread to other cultures throughout the world, and it has been an important component of the entertainment industries in both Europe and the United States for centuries. In addition to generating income for owners and jockeys, horse races provide recreational opportunities for the fans.