Horse racing is one of the oldest and most traditional sports. Its basic concept has remained virtually unchanged since it was first established: two horses compete in a contest of speed or stamina, and the one that finishes first is declared the winner. While the sport has evolved into a complex spectacle with massive fields of runners, sophisticated electronic monitoring equipment, and enormous sums of money at stake, its core is still the same.
In the early years of the 21st century, however, horse racing experienced a dramatic decline in popularity. The sport lost a significant portion of its fans and revenue to other gambling activities, and was dogged by scandals involving cruelty and drug use. As a result, the sport struggled to survive and was forced to implement major improvements in race safety and animal welfare.
Many fans and would-be fans are turned off by the cruel training practices that take place for young racehorses, the cocktails of legal and illegal drugs used to mask injuries, and the fact that countless American horses are ultimately sent abroad to be slaughtered. These factors have contributed to a decline in overall attendance, and the number of races has been steadily decreasing for decades.
Nonetheless, some fans have stayed loyal to the sport and continue to gamble on horses. For them, betting on horse races is not just a fun way to watch the action; it can be very profitable, too. A variety of different bets are available, including bets to win the race, bets to place in the top three, and accumulator bets that combine several individual bets into a single wager.
Before a horse race begins, bettors often walk around the walking ring and examine a horse’s coat to see if it is bright and rippling with energy. If a horse’s coat is dull, it is believed to be insufficiently prepared for the race. Moreover, if a horse balks at the starting gate, it is likely to be frightened or angry, and bettors will avoid it.
When a horse is given a handicap in a horse race, it is assigned a number of points or weights that are meant to give all the runners an equal chance of winning. This is an obvious contradiction to the classic notion that the best horse should win.
Some executives and governance observers are uncomfortable with the classic succession “horse race” approach, in which a company pits multiple recognized candidates against each other in an open competition to become its next leader. But it has been an undeniably successful strategy for a number of admired companies, including General Electric and Procter & Gamble. The key to this success is a culture that embraces the competition and the idea that the best leader will emerge from the process. It’s a cultural mindset that is increasingly important in an era when the public holds corporate leaders to a high standard of accountability. This collection of research on horse race coverage explores some of the latest developments in the field, including probabilistic forecasting and TV news reporting.