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Accidents: Par For The Course In Horse Racing
As with any sport involving animals, horse racing has a long history of accidents. However, unlike other man-animal sports (say, bull fighting), the sport of kings exacts both human and animal lives before and during the races.
Before the Races
Even before a race is seen by track spectators and television audiences, there are practice races that are as ferociously fought as the actual races. After all, the practice results can mirror actual results and gaining a psychological advantage over other jockeys can be useful.
When a horse is scratched from a race, accidents happening to the horse and/or jockey might be a factor. Even if your horse racing system is foolproof, it is impossible to account for future accidents, unless the results were rigged from the start.
Collusions between trainers, owners, jockeys, and bookmakers have been known to happen, and pre-race accidents might very well be well-planned. Monetary considerations are often involved in these cases.
During the Races
In your career as a horse racing punter, you will encounter many accidents on the race track. Both humans and animals are very susceptible to injuries, most of them deathly fatal.
To cite a very recent example of a sad accident, filly Eight Belle was euthanized on the track due to two broken front ankles. Even the euphoria that surrounded her second-place win was quickly erased when the decision to euthanize her was settled. And this is not an isolated event! Many more have preceded Eight Belle and many more will come after her.
As for jockeys, it is estimated that about 25% to 40% will suffer serious injuries during a year of horse racing. They are thrown off horses, trampled upon by hooves, slammed into barrier posts, and other fatal mishaps, many leading to a painful death.
Indeed, with their petite frames riding hulking horses, jockeys have one of the most dangerous jobs in the sports world! And the fact that average retirement age for jockeys is 33 tells a lot of stories.
Many changes have been recommended to make horse racing safer for both horse and jockey. One of these changes is the use of synthetic tracks in place of the traditional dirt tracks. Though the results are inconclusive, it seems that the former is safer than the latter.
Other racing pundits suggest that race horses be bred for durability rather than speed. The horses of today run lesser races than their earlier counterparts, which compared to the legendary Seabiscuits' 35 races is an understatement!
Others recommend that the use of drugs for horses during race day should be ceased immediately. This is the equivalent of using performance-enhancing drugs for human athletes, which is now banned, and it should be too for horse athletes!
Some also propose that race fields be not filled for the mere reason of having a filled track. Though this leads to more excitement and more wagers, this also leads to more accidents, especially among horses that are not ready for a race.
Whenever you see horse racing accidents, try not to be fascinated by the gory details. There are careers and lives involved. These are ultimately more important than the wager you lost or the amount of money you won.
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