The Horse Race – The Great Spectator Sport of Our Age

The horse race is the great spectator sport of our age, a rite of spring and autumn when the rich and the powerful gather to watch beautiful animals whiz around tracks at speeds up to 30 miles per hour. Behind the romanticized facade of this multibillion-dollar industry lie injuries, drug abuse, gruesome breakdowns and slaughter.

Many people feel that horse racing is inherently flawed and needs serious reform. Others feel that the sport represents the pinnacle of human achievement for the athletes who compete, and that while it may have some problems, it should be supported.

During the 19th century, horse races developed from the earliest competitions between two horses over short distances. Early Thoroughbreds were small, fast and mainly bred for sprinting, but the breed was eventually refined to emphasize size, stamina and endurance in addition to speed. Races today are typically longer than those in the past.

When European settlers came to America, they brought the love of horse racing along with their horses. Initially, American races were similar to those in England, with match races between two horses over several four-mile heats. But interest in the sport quickly grew, and by the middle of the century there were more than 60 racetracks in the South.

The horse race has always had a wide appeal. For the wealthy, it was a chance to show off their finery and sip mint juleps as they watched the horses galloping by. For the working classes, it was a place to bet on the next big winner. The horse race has also been a staple of American culture, with the national anthem playing at the start and finish of every major racetrack in the country.

While the horse race has an enormous following, there is some concern that it may be losing its appeal as new generations turn away from the sport. Moreover, there are concerns about the way in which some races are run, and whether or not horses are treated humanely.

A recent New York Times article by Drape, and a subsequent Times hitch to PETA’s wagon on the issue of animal cruelty in horse races, has created a storm of controversy in the racing world. It is important to remember, however, that hostility to PETA does not mean rejection of the work it produces. Virtually no one outside racing cares how PETA got its video; they care only about the contents of the footage.