A horse race is a contest between horses in which they compete over a designated distance and time. They are generally ridden by jockeys and are run on a track that is covered with grass or dirt.
Horses are often subjected to a number of drugs intended to make them perform better, such as laxatives and diuretics that can increase blood flow to the heart. Occasionally, these substances cause bleeding from the lungs, a condition known as exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage.
The handicap system is designed to ensure that all horses in a given race are equally likely to win. It also makes it easier for people to compare the performance of different horses.
Racing rules and handicapping are governed by governing bodies, and differ from country to country. Some national organisations have their own set of rules, but the vast majority of them are based on the British Horseracing Authority’s rulebook which was introduced in 1926.
Unlike most other sports, racing is a highly skilled craft that requires great skill and judgment. A successful horse rider must know when to ‘push’ his horse to the front, and at what speed. He must also be able to judge when to back up or stay behind to prevent his horse from running away with the lead and losing the race.
The stewards are responsible for overseeing the running of the race, and they have the power to award or disqualify a winner. They can also decide to declare a dead heat in the event that two or more horses cross the line at the same time, making it impossible for the naked eye to determine which one crossed first.
Stewards are also responsible for checking that the horses and their owners comply with all the rules of the sport, which include wearing leather breeches, carrying a whip, and keeping a fence at a distance from the track. They are also responsible for ensuring that all equine equipment is clean and in good condition, and for reporting any accidents to the authorities immediately.
A steward can even take over the race for a short period of time to give the horses and their riders more rest, or to help them recover from injuries. They can also use their experience to give tips on how the riders should handle the horses before and after the race.
Races are generally held on Saturday afternoons at various racetracks around the world. Some are more famous than others, such as the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.
There are also minor and major stakes races, which are contested for smaller amounts of money and have less prestige than the big races. These races are typically held at lesser-known racetracks, and they are primarily for fillies and mares.
A horse’s performance in a race is determined by the ability to jump, and it must be able to maintain its balance when jumping. It must also be able to jump well over a variety of surfaces, including dirt and grass.