A horse race is a contest of speed and stamina between competing horses, often in a field of several runners. The first horse to cross the finish line determines the winner of the race. While horse races have evolved over the centuries into a spectacle that involves enormous sums of money and sophisticated electronic monitoring equipment, the fundamental concept remains unchanged: The faster and stronger horse wins. The horse race is one of the oldest sports in existence and has been practiced in civilizations around the world for millennia. Archaeological records suggest that it was practiced in ancient Greece, Rome, Babylon, Syria, and Arabia. It also features prominently in myth and legend, including the competition between the steeds of Odin and Hrungnir in Norse mythology.

Horse racing is an industry that consists of a series of interrelated businesses with complex financial and regulatory structures and an array of social and ethical issues. There are a variety of stakeholders involved in the horse race industry, including owners and breeders, jockeys and exercise riders, and track owners and operators. The horse race is governed by state and federal laws, and there are multiple regulatory bodies and organizations that oversee the sport.

A number of innovations have revolutionized the horse race in recent years. These technological advancements are helping to ensure the safety of both horses and racetrack employees. Thermal imaging cameras can detect signs of overheating, MRI scanners can identify potentially fatal injuries, and 3D printing has enabled the production of casts and splints for injured horses.

Despite these advances, the horse race is still a dangerous business. It is estimated that the sport is responsible for over 2,000 emergency room visits per year, with some of these cases resulting in severe injury and even death to horses. Some of these injuries are caused by track conditions, while others result from the use of medications and illegal substances. There are also a number of equine health and safety risks associated with the racing industry, including laminitis, a disease that causes the onset of euthanasia in horses due to a debilitating joint condition.

A few years ago, PETA released a disturbing video that showed some of the abuses occurring in horse racing’s top training barns. The footage sparked outrage and forced changes in some facilities, but the vast majority of horse trainers continue to treat their charges with cruelty and neglect. In the wake of the deaths at Santa Anita Park, a new lawsuit accusing two of the sport’s most famous conditioners of animal cruelty could lead to unprecedented change in the sport. It would require a deep ideological reckoning on the macro business and industry level, with decisions that prioritize the welfare of horses at every decision point — from breeding sheds to aftercare. But even that could be too late for some of these beloved creatures. Right now, ex-racehorses hemorrhage into the slaughter pipeline, sometimes given only a Facebook post and a short window of opportunity to be “bailed.”* *A year of The Atlantic is just $5.

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