The Sports of Horse Racing: Is it Dying?

Even if horse racing has been kept alive, it is not dying. Compared to previous years, the horse racing industry lost almost $5 billion in 2020 and experienced a fall in popularity. But despite the waning enthusiasm, many people continue to wager on and watch horse races.

In 2019, the media and animal rights campaigners vehemently attacked the horse racing industry before COVID-19 struck. Horse racing has new difficulties in the modern world and is unsure of its future viability. 

Many people are still determining if horse racing today will still be an entertainment option for future generations due to the various obstacles the modern world presents to the sport.

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The Sport of Horse Racing

One of the first horse racing sports dates to the 12th century. The sport was practiced in the new world around the middle of the sixteenth century when English knights returned from the Crusades with Arabian thoroughbreds.

Since then, the sport has developed a terrible reputation due to drug use and the horses’ performances over time. The winner of the Kentucky Derby in 2021, Medina Spirit, most recently tested positive for performance-enhancing substances. Churchhill Downs has currently suspended its trainer Bob Baffert.

In addition, it’s a common belief that animal mistreatment has occurred over the years, perhaps another factor contributing to the sport’s decline in popularity.

When horse racing first became popular in America, it was an uncommon sport that was popular with all social and economic classes and lower-class groups. However, they established the American Stud Book in 1868, turning it into a regulated enterprise and it made the country a horse racing nation.

The sport of horse racing, just like the famous Texas Hold em game, captivated everyone’s interest in all American regions. However, it started to decline as the economy suffered. Due to this, many people lost interest in the sport and their desire to continue playing the game.ย 

The Peak of Horse Racing

Over 300 tracks have been constructed and used in the United States since 1890. Following this, the American Jockey Club was formally established in 1894. However, the widespread anti-gambling sentiment in the 20th century caused nearly all states to outlaw bookmaking, which was how people would collect their bets and distribute the winnings.

In the 1930s, amid the Great Depression, horse racing was a sport that enthralled many people across the country. Parimutuel betting was introduced in 1908, which helped the sport to flourish once more until World War II.

During these times and into the 1900s, owning a horse, watching racehorses, and placing bets on the races all experienced significant growth in popularity. It was permitted to gamble on horses during this period, which was the primary factor in the sport’s popularity.

Since the economy was in such bad shape then, many people were attracted by the cash rewards offered to the winners. However, the well-known horse races between War Admiral and Seabiscuit made the sport peak. 

The crowd assembled to watch the successful races between the two monsters was familiar with and fond of these horses. While Seabiscuit was renowned for his plodding pace and ability to hold with the field and accelerate toward the finish line late, War Admiral was respected for its speed.

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People’s depression was lifted when they attended these races and placed wagers to win the financial reward, which also helped them forget about the environmental problems.

According to research by the American Horse Council (AHC), the horse industry has expanded in the US over time, sustaining 1.4 million jobs nationwide and having a direct economic impact of $39 billion.

Years When There was A Drop in Horse Racing

In 2020, the horse racing market was estimated to be worth $3 billion, a decline of more than $5 billion from the preceding years. Horse racing also saw a 3% fall in popularity from 1985 to 2015, and current research indicates that this sport has continued to lose popularity over the previous 20 years.

In the US, wagers on horse races totaled $15 billion in 2002, but by 2018, that figure had fallen to $11 billion. In addition, just 19,925 thoroughbreds were registered as racehorses in 2018. It is down significantly from the 33,000 or so that were in that category in 2002.

Horse racing has lost favor in recent years due to the emergence of many alternative forms of gambling like poker. Instead, it is made more accessible and more manageable by slot machines, casinos, and lotteries.

Various individual sports, including boxing, tennis, and baseball, have mainly replaced horse racing. However, this sport’s corruption in the races has turned off many people.

Many people have given up on finding a solution to stop it from happening. Because trainers have employed medications to improve their horses’ performance chemically, many have lost interest in the sport.

This idea dates back to the Oscar Barrera phenomena in the late 1970s and early 1980s. One New York trainer’s horse’s performance appeared to increase overnight without justification.

Whipping a thoroughbred horse while racing doesn’t improve one’s perception of why many people think this is an extreme sport. These horses have endured numerous severe wounds throughout the years, with little concern for their welfare or safety.

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Horse racing has always involved death, but we are more conscious now with access to information at our fingertips and 24-hour coverage. If you’re curious to learn more about this subject, you might be interested in reading my essay on racehorse fatalities over time.

Additionally, a 2019 investigation report found that over 113 deaths occurred in Florida alone. Slaughter is not only a cruel way to end a horse’s existence; it is also horrifying and hurtful for these poor animals to go through in their final moments.

Horses are frequently transported in confined, congested trucks for longer than 24 hours without food, water, or rest. It’s safe to assume that not everyone supports horse racing or the harm done to these helpless animals by the sport.

As the sport evolves and becomes more competitive, some trainers mistreat their horses by depriving them of rest and forcing them to work long, exhausting hours in the sun.

Final Thoughts

Although the sport has dropped recently, it is predicted that sports betting will increase by about $140 billion by 2024. This estimate might keep the horse racing industry on track and ensure that it remains a sport many people will watch and engage in to win money.

The total number of races was only down 1% despite the Covid-19 epidemic. The least in our modern age was the 27,200 races held in 2020.

Despite the many drawbacks of the races, the horse racing industry intends to continue to thrive and wants to attract more people as our world changes through the years.