Your Questions About Horse Racing

Jenny asks…

horse racing?

what is the purpose fo the pony that accompanies the racing horse to the starting gate?

Denny answers:

They use them to help keep the race horses calm. Some of the race horses are extremely difficult to hold back so when they are making their warm up approach to the starting gate they will actually run away with the jockey. If they are being led by another rider on another horse, the race horse doesnt get the chance to run away before the race begins. (If the horse ran away, the horse would do poorly in the race)

Steven asks…

HORSE racing?

HEYY! does anybody know where or how to find a horse race there everywhere but i dont know where or how to find them? CAN SOMEBODY PLEEEAAASSSEEE HEEEELPPPPPP!!!!!!!!!! help please!!

Denny answers:


That’s a link to an NTRA page… It has a map of the US and you can click on which state you live in and see what tracks are around. Not all tracks run all year long, but the ntra page should tell you if there’s races now and should give you a link to the track’s website.

George asks…

How many horses die per year in horse racing?

I hate horse racing, like the ones around the really long tracks, i think it is a cruel sport people put there horses through to just get some money and more horses to race. So, just wondering, how many horses die per year during a race? And i don’t care if the horse was trained, i still think it’s cruel. And I HATE it when they use their whips.

Denny answers:

This depends to a large extent on the track and on where it’s located, Jessica. There are other mitigating factors too, such as the weather conditions during races, the type of racing surface ( eg, dirt, Polytrack, turf, artificial turf, or a mixed surface of dirt and sand) the number of horses entered in a given race or card of races, the AGES of those horses ( younger horses are FAR MORE likely to break down and suffer catastrophic injuries than older horses are) and their genetic makeup. All of these things play their own roles in determing how many horses actually die from or during races each year. Some tracks have a lot of fatalities, others have almost none, so it’s really hard to give an accurate estimate of how many horses actually die in a given year.

As for the whip use- the whip is perhaps the LEAST offensive thing in the sport, if you ask me. I’ve been following racing since I was a little girl- I watched Ruffian’s ill fated match race when I was just 11 years old- and I can tell you that the whip is something which has never really bothered me. There are WAY TOO MANY other things about the sport which are much more abusive than the whips. I have long been an advocate for a TOTAL BAN on 2 year old racing, because I consider that to be inhumane and cruel to the horses involved. A 2 year old horse is equivalent in its bone development to a 6 year old HUMAN CHILD. We, as a society, would NEVER ASK a 6 year old kid to run distances of up to a mile, sometimes more, with a one hundred pound lead weight strapped to his or her back, because it would KILL THE KID, and the public outcry would be so great that anyone who did this would end up in jail in short order. But we have NO QUALMS whatsoever when it comes to demanding that a young horse do this- and horses CAN’T SAY NO, and they can’t talk back or argue with us. The average racehorse is started under saddle and in training at the age of 15 months, which is LONG BEFORE horses of other breeds and in other sports start their careers. Most of the performance or sport horse industry outside of racing actually HEARTILY CONDEMNS racing because of this practice, in fact, because they are aware that it is cruel and can lead to permanent, lifelong problems. I agree with their viewpoint, because I know they are right. I’ve worked with horses that have come off the track- and they inevitably have all kinds of health and behavior issues which have to be dealt with if the animals are to ever have any chance of starting a different career.

And there’s another issue which bugs me about racing, namely that FAR TOO MANY of today’s horses are being bred for speed and looks instead of soundness or long term health. The advent of Polytrack has only ADDED to this problem and made it worse, because breeders now have an INCENTIVE TO KEEP BREEDING for speed and looks. Polytrack isn’t God’s gift to racehorses, not by a long shot. It drains poorly when it’s wet, and it’s subject to freezing in cold weather. And when it’s frozen, it’s VERY unforgiving to a horse’s legs and joints- witness what happened in January of 2009 at Santa Anita when the main track’s surface froze during an unexpected cold snap. Over the course of a two week period, there were 7 horses that DIED in racing accidents because they ran on the frozen track and broke their legs. That was probably the worst record for a given racetrack during the entire year which followed. Santa Anita has already had massive drainage problems THIS winter- they’ve canceled racing at least 3 seperate times in the last month alone. The fact that this is an El Nino year with lots of rain hasn’t helped either, because it means there are likely to be more cancellations. Santa Anita is owned by Magnum Entertainment, a company which also owns Pimlico racetrack in Baltimore and Laurel in Laurel, Maryland- and which filed for Chapter 11 more than a year ago. Given all the problems, it’s no surprise why. They need to get rid of the Polytrack at SA, and rehab Pimlico and Laurel- but there’s no money for any of that right now with the economy in the sewer. An outright ban on 2 year old racing would solve a LOT of problems- and I think it would eventually bring an end to some of these horrendous tragedies we keep seeing in racing. These accidents are ALL totally preventable- but because the powers that be which run the sport still refuse to see the connection between the accidents and the ages of the horses which break down, we are going to keep seeing more of them in the future. Some lessons have to be repeated MANY, MANY times before they finally sink in, and this appears to be one of them. Like you, I too have wondered what it will take to finally get the racing world to wake up and smell the coffee where the issue of safety is concerned. Perhaps a 9/11 style accident in which not just horses, but PEOPLE DIE- that’s one thought I’ve had. The Kentucky Derby is already one of the most crowded races in existence, and I am just waiting for the inevitable day when there is an accident during that race which so severe that NO ONE can ignore it.

Such a wreck would definitely involve human as well as equine deaths, and because it would be shown on national TV and the internet, the public outcry against racing will be HUGE. It’s at that point that I think we would finally start to see some REAL REFORMS in the sport of racing, reforms which are LONG OVERDUE. The sport would become less of a Little Boys’ Club, I think. We’d probably also see the end of 2 year old racing, and possibly, the end of 3 year old racing as well. There’d be demands to raise the racing ages of the horses, and demands to reform the way these horses are bred and raised. Jockeys would start to be treated as the professionals they are, instead of being treated as cannon fodder, the way they often are now. Trainers would be REQUIRED to show that their horses were healthy and provide proof that the horses were mature enough to race- and this would mean that every horse would have to have his or her own set of X-rays taken at different times prior to being entered in ANY RACE, no matter how long or short it was. Breeders would need to prove that they understood genetics and the science of reproduction, and they would need to be licensed. The practice of match races would be stopped for good in a perfect world, so as to ensure that tragedies like the one we saw with Ruffian thirty years ago would never happen again. Match races are inherently unfair and cruel to the animals involved, no matter how much people pretend otherwise. Finally, there would be limits imposed on the number of races a given horse could be entered in per year, so as to prevent horses from becoming injured because of exhaustion. Tired horses are just like tired PEOPLE, Jessica. They make mistakes- and sometimes, the mistakes are potentially fatal. I think the day when all of this will happen isn’t far off. Time will tell..

Maria asks…

How did horse racing affect the 1920 and vice versa?

I’m doing a research paper on the Jazz age and i picked horse racing. I checked out books on it but it doesn’t seem to explain how horse racing affected the jazz age. Little help please?

Denny answers:

THe 20s were a time of grandeur and wealth. What is classier and more expensive than horse racing? Owning racehorses was a symbol of high status. Going to the track was a special outing. It was the age of amazing horses, such as Man O War, one of the most well known horses ever.


Joseph asks…

How does an owner make money racing their horse?

I was curious with all the talk about horse racing, how does a horse owner make money specifically related to racing? Is it through racing fees, -that is to allow the horse to race which in turns attracts bettors etc?

Denny answers:

Most owners actually don’t make money racing.

Only about 70% of all Thoroughbreds ever get to the races, and only about 55% of all Thoroughbreds ever win a race. It costs about $25,000, give or take a few thousand, to keep a horse in training for a year; more for the major racing centers like New York or Southern California, less for tracks away from the major population centers. Roughly 10-15% of all Thoroughbreds earn enough money during the course of a year to cover their training expenses.

Some owners can recover the residual value of their horse at the end of its racing career by selling, but most racehorses– particular male racehorses– have residual value that is low or even zero at the end of their racing careers.

Basically, most people who are in racing are in it for the excitement, the fun, the competition; and the hope that maybe they’ll be the one to strike it rich with a horse like Mine That Bird– or one of his relatives. It’s the hope of getting that one special horse, plus the love of racing in general, that keeps people going.

Donald asks…

What is a fun virtual horse racing game where you virtually ride the horse?

I used to play a virtual horse racing game where you could control how fast the horse goes and you are actually on the horses back to.
It looks like a nice game but you have to buy it, im looking for free online games

Denny answers:

Official Secretariat Horse Racing Game

John asks…

Why do people get upset about Horse Racing when they are just Horses?

I see people get upset about Horse Racing and it saddens my heart. The Horses are bread just for the amusement of the punter and to win people money. Other than that, they have little purpose in life so if they die, well they die. These Horses are well looked after and the smile on their faces while they race tells it all.

At the end of the day they are just Horses who do not have feelings.

Denny answers:

I am not a fan of animal rights and I love racing but what you said is the biggest load of shit I’ve ever heard. Have you ever worked with horses before? Obviously not. I’ve been working with horses for years and you can’t tell me they don’t have just as many (if not more) feelings then people. They are extremely sensitive and intelligent creatures and that has been scientifically proven time and time again. And why do you think Thoroughbreds make such good race horses? What do you think is the #1 most important thing to have in a race horse? Although conformation, breeding, and athletic ability are very important it’s heart that separates horses like Secretariat, Seabiscuit, or Exterminator from the horses that can’t break their madden. Not all horses have the drive it takes to push themselves both physically and mentally. A horse that has heart will beat a horse that doesn’t any day of the week. Is this not an example of the complex emotions horses have? But I guess you know way more about horses then….oh I don’t know…..every single rider, horse trainer, and/or groom that has ever worked with them. And they feel pain, sorrow, and many other emotions just like people. Therefore they deserve to be treated with respect and compassion.

It’s people like you that give horse racing such a bad name. But to anyone else reading this please know that this idiot is the exception and that people who actually work with these amazing animals do not agree with this moron at all and do care about the welfare of the horses very much.

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