A few years ago, the race-horse world was shaken to its core by a powerful new documentary. Eight Belles died catastrophically in a race and the public learned about the widespread use of banned drugs and excessive levels of permitted medications.
The industry presently profits from horses and breeds them, but has no wraparound aftercare plan for them when they exit racing. This needs to change.
Horse racing is a sport that dates back centuries. It was first practiced as a chariot race in Roman times, and later as a contest between the steeds of Odin and the giant Hrungnir in Norse mythology. In modern times, it is a major global industry and is often associated with gambling. Its common nickname is “The Sport of Kings.” The type and distance of races varies widely by country.
The sport became professional in England around the 12th century, when English knights brought Arab horses back from the Crusades and crossed them with native cold-blooded breeds. This resulted in a new breed that combined speed and endurance. These were the first horses to be bred for racing.
In 1750, a group of England’s elite formed the Jockey Club to oversee and control the sport. They wrote a set of rules for horse races and created a system to record pedigrees. The Jockey Club’s accounting clerk James Weatherby was commissioned to compile the General Stud Book, which recorded the family histories of all Thoroughbred horses.
There are many different kinds of horse races. The main types of racing are Thoroughbreds with a rider astride and harness races where the horse pulls a conveyance driven by a driver. Other kinds of race include sulky or jumper races and quarter horse racing.
The most prestigious races are called stakes races, where the top horses compete. Stakes races are categorized by their purses, which can vary widely from small local races to multimillion-dollar events such as the Kentucky Derby or Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Horses must work their way up a class ladder before they can compete in stakes races. They typically start out in claiming races, which are open to any owner at a specified price. Young horses then advance to allowance races, which have conditions such as the number of wins or amount of money won. The Racing Secretary or Track Handicapper assigns weight based on the horse’s past performances to give all entrants a chance to win.
The prize money in horse racing is the money that is awarded to winning horses after a race. It is a big part of what makes horse races exciting and glamourous. The bigger the race, the more lucrative the purse. The money in a purse is divided among key players, such as horse owners, trainers, and jockeys. The lion’s share goes to the owner, while the trainer and jockey get about 10% each.
The amount of money in a race’s purse depends on several factors, including betting revenue and other sources of funds. A portion of bets made onsite or online are added to the purse, and simulcasting revenues are also a contributor.
The Tax Court of Canada (“TCC”) held that the proportion of a horse’s winning prize that is paid to its driver and trainer constitutes a competition “prize” and should be subject to GST. Stratas J.A. disagreed and found in favour of Revenue Canada.
After a series of horse breakdowns and medication scandals, Congress passed the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, which aims to create a uniform national standard for thoroughbred racing. The new rules will be overseen by the Horseracing Authority. They will require veterinarians and trainers to submit racehorse treatment data. This information will be centralized and used to identify horses with higher risks for injury. These risks may include the number of high-speed workouts a horse has had or its history with career-ending musculoskeletal injuries.
Other measures include a requirement for personal protective equipment, such as helmets and safety vests, to be worn by everyone working in close proximity to the horses. The safety of the jockey is especially important, as a fall from a horse can cause severe head trauma and even death. Safety measures also include a ban on toe grabs, which can lead to severe injuries to the tendons of the fore and hind limbs.