The History of the Horse Race

A horse race is a contest of speed among horses that are ridden by jockeys or pulled in sulkies by drivers. The game has been around for thousands of years and continues to be popular today. It is a fascinating sport to watch and one that has had many significant milestones in its history.

In the early days of the sport, races were often impromptu affairs. A matched pair of horses, owned by wealthy individuals, were pitted against each other for a wager. The winner of the match earned a stake of cash, while the loser forfeited his money or his mount. Agreements were recorded by disinterested third parties, known as keepers of the match book.

These early matches are now the foundation for organized racing, which arose during the reign of Louis XIV. At this time, the sport was largely based on gambling and became much more formalized. Louis’s son, the future King Louis XV, established rules for the sport that required certificates of origin for horses and imposed a weight penalty on foreign competitors.

More recently, the sport’s drug problem exploded. Powerful painkillers designed for humans bled over into race preparation, and racing officialdom was woefully inadequate in its testing capacity. As a result, drugs that were not only illegal but potentially dangerously harmful to horses were frequently used. Blood doping, antipsychotics, growth hormones, and other chemicals were routinely used. The number of deaths soared, and the sport has yet to find a way to stop them.

The Santa Anita disaster, which prompted a criminal investigation, was only the latest in a series of horse deaths. While everyone would like a sport with no deaths, those within the horse industry realize that goal is unattainable. Even so, the public is increasingly becoming swayed by the mounting evidence of abuses in training, drug use, and the transportation of American-bred horses to foreign slaughterhouses.

Amid all of this, the sport has tried to improve its image and attract more fans. However, a growing awareness of its dark side will continue to put pressure on the industry to change for the better.

In this environment, companies often use the classic succession “horse race” approach, which is characterized by overt competition for the CEO role among several recognized candidates within an established time frame. Proponents argue that the horse race provides a more effective alternative to traditional corporate structures such as appointing a CEO from outside the organization.

The downside is that the horse race approach can create a culture of excessively short-term thinking. It can also lead to the appointment of weak leaders and undermine organizational stability. Nevertheless, some experts believe that the horse race is an effective approach because it can help identify top talent and reward high performers who want to rise up the ranks. The practice of using the horse race as a leadership development tool has become commonplace in many admired organizations, including General Electric, Procter & Gamble and GlaxoSmithKline.

Categories: Gambling