What is a Horse Race?

A horse race is a contest in which participants bet on the outcome of a sporting event involving horses. The race may take place over a set distance or in a set number of laps, with the winning horse receiving prize money. A horse race has a long history, having been practiced in ancient Greece, Rome, Babylon, Syria and Arabia. It is also an important part of myth and legend, including the contest between the gods’ steeds Hrungnir and Odin in Norse mythology.

As the last of the sun dipped below the shadowy grandstand, jockeys on their steeds rode into view in the starting gate, their coats rippling with sweat and muscled excitement. A good start in a race was essential for winning, and many bettors made a habit of watching a horse’s face in the walking ring to see if it looked fresh and ready to run. If the eyes were bright and a horse looked fresh, it was considered ready to go.

At the front of the pack, War of Will and McKinzie pushed their rivals, with Mongolian Groom and Vino Rosso vying for the lead. On the backstretch, the pace quickened. Horses bounded past the grandstand in a rush of energy. They were thirsty, and their jockeys pumped them with Lasix, a diuretic marked on the racing form with a boldface “L.” Lasix prevents pulmonary bleeding, which hard running causes in a substantial minority of thoroughbreds.

After the first half of a race, the field thinned to the top two or three finishers. These horses were rewarded with the majority of the race’s prize money. The remainder was shared by the rest of the finishers. Those who did not finish in the top two or three received lesser amounts.

In recent decades, the classic succession “horse race” approach to choosing a new chief executive officer has come under increasing scrutiny from some governance observers and executives. The idea behind this strategy is to select the best candidate from among several skilled executives by pitting them against each other in a highly competitive and time-consuming horse race to become the company’s next leader.

But the horse race remains popular, and some companies are embracing it as an effective method for grooming future leaders and ensuring a steady stream of high-performing talent. The horse race can also help to create a culture of leadership development in which potential stars are spotted early and nurtured through a succession of critical roles, giving them the necessary experience and seasoning for the top job. However, some critics have raised concerns about the impact of a horse race on an organization’s culture and overall performance. This article discusses these concerns and provides guidance on how to improve the effectiveness of a horse race.