Horse races take place at racetracks across the globe and spectators place bets on which horse they think will finish first, second, or third. Bettors stake money for each of these horses that ultimately win; all their money collectively becomes known as their purse. Bets may be placed either to win the race outright or show; win bets usually offer higher returns but may involve greater risk than placing or showing bets.
Horse races are an internationally beloved spectator sport. People find them both exciting and unpredictable events to wager on; betting on one is also one of the easier forms of gambling available and is an ideal pastime to socialize with friends or family members during a horse race. To participate, valid identification must be shown.
Horse races have been held throughout America since their introduction during the 1700s. Racing became even more prevalent during the American Civil War as Union forces needed fast horses for combat purposes; at this time thoroughbreds were introduced into America and its first major-stakes race was held in 1861.
Today, horse races take place at more than 350 tracks throughout the US. Some of the most renowned races include Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes which make up America’s Triple Crown series. Furthermore, smaller racetracks host various minor and intermediate level events which are open to public participation.
Typically, young horses begin in flat racing as juveniles before transitioning into hurdling if it proves capable. After approximately one year of hurdling, some horses may move on to steeplechasing; otherwise they remain as maidens in the United States.
Behind the romanticized facade of Thoroughbred horse racing lies an unsightly world of injuries, breakdowns, drug abuse and slaughter. Greater awareness has resulted in improved conditions at racetracks including safer racing surfaces and better training practices for young horses. PETA continues to expose the cruelty in this industry, such as abusive training techniques and drug usage as well as transportation of horses for slaughterhouses in foreign countries. Horses no longer profitable to the industry may be sold multiple times using a process known as “claiming”, ending up in unknown circumstances. This system allows horse racing owners to profit from breeding and racing them before disposing of them without ever taking responsibility for what happens next in life; some critics have even described this as institutionalized cruelty.