The Benefits of a Horse Race for Corporate Governance

A horse race is a contest that pits several recognized candidates for a role against one another in a bid to become the next chief executive officer. While some governance observers are uncomfortable with the horse race approach — in which an overt competition for the top job is carried out among multiple, highly skilled executives within a set time frame — proponents argue that it can yield a host of benefits. In particular, the system encourages companies to identify and develop high performers in a series of functional assignments and stretch opportunities that help them gain the skills and seasoning required for an even more demanding leadership role.

Horse racing has evolved from a primitive contest of speed or stamina between two horses into a sport involving large fields, sophisticated electronic monitoring equipment and enormous sums of money. However, its basic premise has not changed: The horse that crosses the finish line first is declared the winner.

The horse is ridden by a jockey, who is required to ride in a safe manner and follow a prescribed course (which may include hurdles). As the sport evolved, rules were developed that determined the eligibility of individual runners based on age, sex, birthplace and previous performance. Prize money was also established and categorized based on the distance of the race. The most prestigious races carry the highest purses.

Early in the history of horse racing, trainers used a variety of substances to improve their horses’ performance. The Romans, for example, reportedly used a liquid called hydromel to enhance a horse’s endurance. By the 19th century, the use of doping chemicals had become commonplace in horse racing. Powerful painkillers, anti-inflammatories and other drugs designed for humans were injected into the horses’ bodies to increase their performance. In addition, veterinary surgeons gave the horses steroids to enhance their strength and growth.

Some of these substances had a positive effect on the horses’ ability to run, but other, more toxic and harmful effects were observed. For example, a drug known as furosemide reduces blood pressure and can prevent a horse from developing leg fatigue. But, this medication has also been found to have negative side effects on the health of the horses, such as kidney damage.

As the horse race became more complex, rules were added to limit the use of doping agents. For instance, a rule was introduced in 1913 that prohibited the entry of horses with “tainted American blood” into prestigious English races. This was in response to a number of victories of horses with American bloodlines in English prestigious races. Despite the introduction of more sophisticated testing, horse racing officials are still struggling to keep up with the development of new doping agents. In addition, drug testing is often hampered by the fact that a trainer convicted in one jurisdiction can simply move to another to continue using doping substances in horse races.