Horse races are a staple of horse racing, and a good one can lift an otherwise mediocre racehorse to the ranks of greatness. They are a spectacle of ruthless competition between nine impatient horses, with the winner taking the trophy, a mint julep, and perhaps some fame. But behind the glitz and glamour of the horse race is a dark world of drugs, injuries, and even death.
Some boards and current executives have resisted the horse race approach, which pits several candidates against each other in an overt battle to become the next CEO. But the strategy has been successful in producing a series of exceptional leaders at companies such as General Electric, Procter & Gamble, and GlaxoSmithKline. It also can be effective in encouraging internal leadership development by showing high-performing employees that there are a number of paths to senior management roles.
A horse race is a race of Thoroughbred horse breeds, typically over a distance of five furlongs (three and a half miles), on a dirt or artificial grass surface. Typically, horses are ranked according to their performance in elite races held during a specified period and by the quality of their opponents. The top-rated horses earn “weights,” which are fixed amounts of money given to the winners, runners up, and others that must be carried by each horse. The weights are determined by the quality of the opposition, the performance of the horse in previous races, and its pedigree.
When the starting gate opens and the jockeys step onto their horses, a minute-and-a-half of ruthless warfare begins. Each horse is urged by the jockey, who uses a whip to encourage them but may not use it to lash their rivals. The winners receive a large amount of prize money and the glory, while losers are disqualified or punished in other ways.
The most prestigious horse races are the Triple Crown series of American classics: the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. In addition, a number of other countries have established their own series of elite races.
The prestigious Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is the third most famous race in the world, but it doesn’t quite reach the heights of the Derby or Preakness. The list of famous races also includes the Dubai World Cup, the Caulfield and Sydney cups in Australia, and the Gran Premio Internacional Carlos Pellegrini in Argentina. These are primarily sprint races, but some long-distance races are also held. Most racehorses reach their peak at age three, and escalating breeding fees and sale prices have led to fewer races with older horses. Nevertheless, there are still some famous races that accept horses up to the age of four, including the aforementioned Prix de l’Arc de triomphe and the Hong Kong Cup.