A horse race is a sport where people wager money on the outcome of a race between two or more horses. The horse is saddled with a jockey and the total amount of money wagered is recorded on an official “tote” machine. There are different pools in which wagers can be placed including win, place, and show. Some races feature specialty wagers such as the daily double, perfecta (winners of the first two races), quiniela, and trifecta.
The sport has a long history in both the United States and Europe. Its origin is uncertain, but it may have evolved from informal races between hunters riding hounds. In America, formal racing began in the colonial period when New York Governor Richard Nicolls sponsored an annual flat race at Hempstead Plain. In Europe, jumps races — known as steeplechases — started earlier and were often held in urban settings. The sport’s popularity rose with the development of pari-mutuel betting. In the 1860s, horse racing was booming in popularity in the United States, and in 1905 Seabiscuit beat his rival, Specify, for a record-setting victory in the Hollywood Gold Cup. This made him the most famous American thoroughbred ever.
In the early days of American horse racing, most purses were winner-take-all. However, as the industry became more regulated, second and third prize purses were introduced. Today, the most prestigious races offer the highest prize funds. Purses are calculated by taking into account factors such as the number of runners, the size of the field, the quality of the winning horse’s breeding and performance, and the level of competition in other races.
Despite improvements to the safety of spectators and workers, serious injuries are a major problem in horse racing. These injuries can occur from falls, collisions with other horses, and the effects of excessive speed. Some horses are also injured by drugs, particularly painkillers, which can interfere with their normal metabolic processes. If a horse suffers a severe injury, it may be euthanized.
While some argue that the use of drugs to make horses faster is a necessary part of racing, others point out that these substances can have dangerous side effects and lead to overtraining and an overall decline in the quality of the racing stock. In addition, there is a growing concern that overemphasis on speed has reduced the endurance of the breed.
Many researchers have examined the effect of horse race coverage in print media. They have found that when journalists focus on partisanship and who’s winning and losing, voters, candidates, and the press suffer. They have also looked at the impact of a technique called probabilistic forecasting, which allows newsrooms to present polling data as the percentage likelihood that a candidate will win. This is a powerful tool that can give novel or unusual candidates an edge. In recent years, scholars have begun to explore the effect of third-party political coverage. They have also looked at whether TV news coverage focuses on race coverage and whether it hurts or helps third-party candidates.