Horse races are competitions in which two or more horses run on a fixed-length track and are weighed after the event, with the winner declared by an official weights committee and awarded a prize by them. Dating back to ancient Greece and Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey depicting such races; modern flat horse racing events follow international regulations while remaining locally organized; in the US for instance the most renowned Triple Crown races consisting of Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes are particularly prestigious; these races also gained great interest across borders due to lucrative betting markets that accompany these competitions; Homer wrote of such races in his Iliad and Odyssey respectively.

Race rules include an established set of regulations to ensure the health and welfare of horses during competitions. These include age, sex and birthplace requirements; eligibility of horses is assessed on these factors as well as past performances; furthermore they receive weight to carry during races which is determined by distance and gender considerations.

Early years of organized horse racing in the United States emphasized both stamina and speed equally. By 1870s however, stamina had taken precedence. With the growing popularity of American Triple Crown series races such as Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes demanding fast horses as qualifying entries to enter them demanded they be fast to qualify.

So that they may win races, horses must often push themselves beyond their limits in order to succeed, exposing them to serious injuries like those sustained by Eight Belles during her 2008 Derby campaign. Such injuries often result in exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH), which causes painful bleeding into the lungs; therefore, many horses are treated with legal and illegal medications designed to mask injuries and improve performance in order to mitigate this hazard.

But, due to racing, many horses who compete have very limited opportunities to live out their lives as the happy, beautiful beings that were meant for them. At present, there is no industry-sponsored aftercare system in place, and many horses who leave racetracks end up being sent into the slaughter pipeline–where they may be auctioned or shipped off to Mexico and Canada for food and pet meat consumption. Independent horse rescue groups play an invaluable role in saving these horses, network fundraising and tirelessly working to rescue them from suffering and death. Yet despite their pleas, some racing enthusiasts continue to support this cruel business model which places these horses in unnecessary peril.

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