A horse race is an event in which horses are ridden and run over a course for the purposes of betting. The first horse to cross the finish line wins the race and the corresponding prize money. Some races are confined to specific distances, while others may be based on a certain type of horse, or sex. Some races also have restrictions as to when the entries close, or how many days in advance the nominations must be submitted.

The earliest recorded horse races were chariot races, held in Asia Minor as early as the 9th century bc, and bareback or mounted (steeplechase) events at the Olympic Games in 740 to 700 bc. The modern sport of horse racing developed in England and is based on thoroughbred breeds. In the United States, horse racing is regulated by the state governments.

Despite the glamour of horse racing, the industry is plagued with scandals involving drug use, injury, breakdowns and death. The public is increasingly aware of these issues, and horse racing is losing fans, race days and entry fees.

In a horse race, horses are matched according to their speed and stamina. Short races are called sprints, and longer races are known as routes in the US or as staying races in Europe. Many of the races are contested at speeds too fast for the horses to maintain without risking their health. As a result, horses frequently suffer from injuries and are subjected to cocktail of drugs intended to mask these injuries and enhance performance. Some horses will bleed from the lungs during the race, a condition known as exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage. The horses are then injected with a cocktail of medications, including steroids and a diuretic, to decrease the bleeding.

Those who bet on the races are required to sign a waiver that acknowledges that they are aware of the risks involved in gambling and that they will not hold the race track, its employees or the horse owners responsible for their losses. In addition, the race day wagering rules require that bettors be of legal age to place a bet. A wager that exceeds the maximum amount allowed by law is considered illegal and could lead to prosecution.

The race results are not final until the jockeys weigh in and are inspected for any rule violations or medication use. Saliva and urine samples are taken from the horses, and winning horses are disqualified if they have been injected with prohibited drugs.

In order to keep the sport viable, the industry is investing in new technology and improving training methods. These improvements have helped to decrease the number of fatalities, but the horse racing industry is still plagued with a high incidence of injuries and accidents. In addition, a growing number of animal rights activists are campaigning for reforms to the industry.

Although the practice of horse racing is an illegal form of gambling in most states, some newspapers still report on election results as if they were a horse race. The most effective way to do this is to use probability forecasting, which combines polling data with other factors to predict the likelihood of a particular candidate winning over another. This type of reporting is most likely to occur in close races and in the weeks leading up to an election.