Governance and the Horse Race

Gambling Jan 3, 2024

A horse race is a competition in which horses run around a course and the one that crosses the finish line first wins. It is considered one of the oldest sports in the world and has evolved over time into a spectacle involving large fields of runners, sophisticated electronic monitoring equipment, and immense sums of money. The basic concept, however, remains the same: a contest of speed or stamina between two horses.

Throughout history, the horse has been a symbol of power and prestige. A noble animal that can carry a heavy burden over long distances, the horse has been the chariot of choice for kings and queens and a vehicle for war and exploration. Horses have been bred to perform as athletic creatures, and the sport of horse racing has taken off worldwide. While many people are drawn to the sport for its glamour and the excitement of a close finish, others have a more cynical view of the industry. The race itself is a brutal contest that involves drugs, broken bones, and even death. Behind the glamorous facade of a horse race, a dark underworld lurks, where trainers force horses to sprint, often while being whipped and requiring them to run at speeds that can lead to injury, breakdown, or death. The use of drugs is commonplace, and although random drug testing is in place, the number of horses who test positive is staggering. The horses are then sold to slaughterhouses.

While some governance observers are uncomfortable with the “horse race” approach to selecting a chief executive officer (CEO), which pits several internal candidates against each other, others argue that it is a powerful way to identify and develop high-performing leaders. Having several strong candidates in the running for the top job suggests that the board and management have invested in rigorous leadership development programs and in helping individuals grow through a series of functional assignments, stretch opportunities, and higher-level positions.

The sport of horse racing has a long tradition in the United States, beginning with the British occupation of New Amsterdam (now New York City) in 1664, when Colonel Richard Nicolls established organized racing by marking a two-mile course on Long Island. In the early years, match races were popular, with rival horses competing in four-mile heats over the Union Course on Long Island. In 1823, American Eclipse, a northern horse, defeated Sir Henry, a southern horse, in three four-mile heats. This victory, along with North-South challenges that continued until the Civil War, promoted the breeding of thoroughbreds for speed.

Today, horse races take place all over the world, and they are contested by Thoroughbreds, Standardbreds, Quarter Horses, and other breeds. The sport is heavily regulated, with most races restricted to particular studs, and the breed of a race horse must be officially accepted before it can compete. Depending on its ability and stamina, a jumps horse will usually start out in National Hunt flat races as a juvenile, then progress to hurdling, and, if it is thought capable of steeplechasing, may eventually move to that sport.

By admin