The Horse Race is a For-Profit Enterprise

Horse racing is a global sport with an enormous following and a significant economic impact. Its growth is fueled by escalating fan interest, international competition, and breeding programs attracting the best horses from around the world. But even as adoring fans and gamblers give generously to help these creatures survive, they are also participating in their ongoing and deadly exploitation. The deaths of Eight Belles, Medina Spirit, Keepthename, Creative Plan and Laoban in 2019 are only the latest headline-grabbing tragedies to hit a business that is a for-profit enterprise.

In most races, each horse is assigned a fixed amount of weight to carry. This is based on their level of ability and can be adjusted by age (the older a horse is, the less weight they carry), distance (the longer the race, the more allowances) and sex. The most prestigious races are called conditions races and offer the biggest purses.

The success of a horse race is often determined by the ability of its jockeys and trainers. They may tamper with the horses’ diets, train them with special exercises, and administer cocktails of legal and illegal drugs. This includes the common practice of giving the animals blood-thinning medications, which can increase their endurance and make them more likely to win. Many horses are pushed to their limit and will bleed from their lungs after the race, a condition known as exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage. In order to reduce the likelihood of such a complication, horses are frequently given Lasix or Salix.

While horse racing has retained a number of its traditions, it has also benefited from technological advances. Thermal imaging cameras can identify the slightest heat stress on a horse post-race, MRI scanners and X-rays are used to diagnose maladies, and 3D printing has helped produce casts, splints and prosthetics for injured or ailing racehorses.

As the industry continues to modernize, it is important that it takes steps to improve animal welfare and the quality of life for its racehorses. If it fails to do so, its popularity and hefty financial benefits will be at risk.

Media scholars have long studied how news stories frame elections as a horse race, with frontrunners and underdogs competing for attention. The results of their research suggest that this strategy is particularly effective in close races, and during the weeks leading up to Election Day. They have also found that it is more prevalent in larger-chain newspapers than in smaller ones, and that it is most popular among papers that report on governor and U.S. Senate races. This strategy can hurt third-party candidates, who may be perceived as unlikely to win the election. But it is also a useful tool for promoting civic engagement and informing voters. In this way, it can contribute to a democracy where the people are in charge. As we move into a new era of digital journalism, it is time to take a closer look at the effect that this type of reporting has on American democracy.