The Horse Race and the Board of Directors

Horse races are a popular spectator sport and generate significant profits from bets placed by gamblers. They can be run on flat or curved tracks, on dirt, turf, or sand, and may include a variety of obstacles or jumps. The racers are ridden or driven and are outfitted with a wide range of tack. The sport has a long and rich history and is an important part of U.S. and international culture.

A horse race can also refer to the process of selecting a new chief executive officer for a company. Some board members are uncomfortable with the “horse race” approach, which involves overt competition for the CEO role among several recognized candidates in a specified time frame, but the practice can be an effective and viable method of selecting the most qualified leader.

One problem with the horse race approach to selecting a CEO is that it can create an environment where executives are pressured to “compete for the job” by the very presence of other top-performing senior managers. Moreover, the horse race can cause a disruption of the company’s normal operations while it is underway. A good alternative to the horse race is for the board of directors to establish succession processes that groom high achievers through a series of critical roles in which they acquire the competencies and seasoning to lead the company in its next phase of growth.

Many observers of the horse racing industry are concerned that trainers push horses to run faster and longer than their bodies can comfortably handle. Consequently, horses often break down and are put down. This is especially true of older horses, which reach their peak ability at age five. The escalating costs of breeding, horse ownership, and racing purses have resulted in fewer races being held with horses beyond that point.

Moreover, trainers regularly use cocktails of legal and illegal drugs on horses to mask injuries and enhance their performance. This can result in horses bleeding from the lungs, a condition known as exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage. This condition is exacerbated by the long workouts and hard races that are typical of racing.

Another concern is that racehorses are routinely subjected to acupuncture and other forms of unorthodox medicine. The practice of acupuncture uses needles, electrical current, and moxibustion to stimulate and realign an animal’s energy fields. While random drug testing is conducted, the egregious abuse of drugs in racing has become commonplace.

Lastly, the ad hoc nature of rules governing horse racing in the dozens of states where it is played has led to a patchwork of standards and regulations. This can make it difficult to enforce penalties against horse owners and trainers who violate the rules. This is in stark contrast to the NBA, which has a uniform set of rules and penalties that apply to all players and teams.