A horse race is a contest in which a jockey mounts and rides a horse through a course, jumping any required hurdles, and then crossing a finish line before other horses and riders. The horse and rider who finish first are awarded prize money. The contest can be held on land or in the water. The sport of horse racing has long been a topic of controversy. Critics claim that the practice is inhumane and that the industry is corrupted by doping and overbreeding. Others, however, argue that horse racing represents the pinnacle of achievement for its competitors and that while it may need reform, it is fundamentally sound.
A few years ago, a video was released that showed the trainers of two champion thoroughbreds, Steve Asmussen and Scott Blasi, mistreating their horses. The footage was shocking, but the allegations were not new: horse abuse has been a problem in racing for years, and many people have wondered why the sport hasn’t done more to stop it.
The death of Eight Belles and the gruesome breakdown of Man O’War prompted a serious reckoning in the horse racing industry. Despite a lot of talk about reform, horse races continue to be dangerous and unnatural. In a field where the most expensive thoroughbred cost less than a used car, and where purses are jacked up by taxpayer-subsidized casino money, horsemen have every incentive to push horses past their physical limits, which often leads to gruesome breakdowns and deaths.
In 2020, Congress decided that it was no longer willing to see horses die just so fans can watch them race. It passed legislation requiring a uniform set of safety standards, and the Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Authority began enforcing them in July. The results have been promising: the rate of fatal injuries in racing has dropped substantially.
Until now, there have been three types of people in the racing world: the crooks who dangerously drug their horses and put them at risk of injury; the dupes who labor under the fantasy that the sport is broadly fair and honest; and those in the middle, who know the industry is more crooked than it should be but do not actively work to change it.
A new study finds that newspaper editors are more likely to frame elections as a horse race when they’re close, and in the weeks leading up to Election Day. The research, by Johanna Dunaway of Texas A&M University and Regina G. Lawrence of the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, examined 10,784 articles in newspapers from Sept. 1 to Election Day in 2004 and 2006 and 2008. It found that the percentage of stories that framed an election as a horse race increased with the size of the publisher, the number of daily newspapers owned by a single company, and the number of close races. It also found that the partisanship of the race was a significant factor in framing an election as a horse race.