Racing Explained

The world of horse racing is a complicated and confusing one. Fortunately, Racing Explained is here to help make sense of all things horseracing — from understanding odds to training racehorses. This encyclopedia will give you the answers you need to have a successful day at the races, and beyond!

Despite claims from the horseracing industry that horses are “born to run and love to compete,” racing is unequivocally an unnatural act. The way a horse plays in an open field bears no resemblance to what they’re made to do at a track, and the way they run and play in the real world is not only incompatible with racing but actually puts them at risk of injury and breakdown.

Moreover, the health and well-being of racehorses is a major issue. In the US, horses suffer from a variety of problems resulting from the sport including broken bones, soreness and lameness, drugs, overbreeding, equine hereditary illnesses and anabolic steroids. These issues are exacerbated by the lack of government oversight, record keeping and transparency in the horseracing industry.

Even when a horse is retired, the end of their racing career is not necessarily a happy one. Due to the lack of an industry-sponsored wraparound aftercare system, many ex-racehorses hemorrhage into the slaughter pipeline. Those who aren’t rescued or adopted often face horrific, unimaginable ends.

The good news is that the horseracing industry has begun to improve its image as awareness of these issues grows. But there’s still a long way to go before the sport can address its dark side and ensure that every retired racehorse has the opportunity to live a peaceful life in retirement.

*PETA Accuses Two Trainers of Cruelty

The news that the acclaimed animal rights organization PETA has filmed disturbing images of horses in the care of trainers Steve Asmussen and Scott Blasi was a thunderclap for many reasons. It’s the first time the public has been exposed to what many observers believe is a systemic culture of cruelty and abuse in American horseracing.

In addition, the public has been exposed to the fact that the sport largely exists under a patchwork of rules in dozens of states. The rules differ from state to state on topics like the use of whips and types of medication horses can be given. And the punishments for trainers and owners who violate these rules vary as well. This is a major reason why the sport has been so difficult to regulate and oversee. Thankfully, this is beginning to change as more people begin to see the need for thorough and transparent reforms in horseracing to provide a level playing field for both horses and gamblers.