Horse racing is a sport in which a group of horses, led by jockeys, compete for a prize that usually consists of cash and a trophy. It is a global industry whose participants include prominent owners, jockeys, breeders, trainers, and horses. The sport is often governed by regulations set by various organizations and authorities. Those rules usually set minimum age requirements, breeding restrictions, and track surfaces. Some races are held only for a specific breed of horse, while others are open to all breeds.
Most horse races are run on flat racetracks, with oval-shaped courses that range in size from a few miles to ten or more. These tracks are usually dirt or turf, although some offer a combination of these surfaces and even newer synthetics such as Polytrack and Tapeta. Some courses are more difficult than others, such as those that require the horse to race over jumps. In some races, the difficulty is adjusted by altering the height and placement of the jumps.
Thoroughbred horse racing is the dominant form of the sport in North America and most of Europe, with many major races held on a daily basis. The sport has also expanded into South America and Asia, with more than 30 racetracks operating around the world.
Spectators are drawn to the excitement of watching horses compete in horse races. The sport can be a fun way to spend an afternoon with friends or family, but it is important to stay safe when visiting the racetrack. There are several things you can do to stay safe while at the racetrack, including:
There are a number of different types of horse races available in the United States, and each offers its own unique experience. The Kentucky Derby, which is held each year on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, is traditionally considered the high point of Thoroughbred racing in the US. Together with the Preakness Stakes, which is held two weeks after the Derby at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, and the Belmont Stakes, which is held three weeks after the Preakness at Belmont Park on Long Island, New York, these races are known as the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing for three-year-olds.
Aside from horse racing, there are a number of other forms of horse sports that take place in the United States and worldwide. Some popular examples include barrel racing, polo, and sulky riding. In these activities, a person rides on the back of a horse and uses a whip to control the animal.
Horse racing has been banned in China since 1945, but allowances are made for ethnic minority peoples for whom it is a traditional sport. During the 11th National Games in 2009, speed horse racing was added to the competition, and horses were injured and killed in the event.