Horse racing has evolved from a primitive contest of speed and stamina between two animals into a spectacle involving large fields, high-tech electronic monitoring equipment, and huge sums of money. But one thing that has never changed is the basic premise of the game: whoever crosses the finish line first wins.
In the early days of the sport, races were standardized and governed by rules that dictated the weight of the horses in the competition. By the 1700s, six-year-olds carrying 168 pounds in four-mile heats had become commonplace.
But even though horse racing remained relatively unchanged for centuries, there are many ways it could have evolved to better serve the modern world. For example, today there are many technological advances in horse racing that could help to make the sport safer and more competitive for its participants.
For example, thermal imaging cameras can spot overheating post-race; MRI scanners and X-rays can screen for preexisting conditions; 3D printing technology can produce casts, splints, and prosthetics for injured horses; and veterinary teams are armed with new tools to quickly and accurately diagnose issues such as lameness, colic, or severe injuries. These innovations, along with the advent of the Information Age, have transformed the way that horses and jockeys are trained and raced.
However, it is difficult to reconcile these advances with the brutal reality of the industry. Behind the romanticized facade of Thoroughbred racing, there is a world of gruesome injuries and breakdowns, drug abuse, and slaughter. The public is growing increasingly aware of the dark side of the industry. This awareness has driven a number of improvements to animal welfare at the track, but more needs to be done.
Many current and prospective racing fans are being turned off by scandals involving doping, unsafe conditions, and cruelty. The sport is losing its share of the gambling market and its popularity among younger Americans. In the end, that could have a significant impact on the future of horse racing in America.
Boards that employ the horse race method of choosing a CEO must understand the ramifications of this strategy before they start to implement it. They should also take into account the company’s culture and structure to ensure that it is a good fit for an overt leadership contest. Companies that successfully use the horse race approach are those that cultivate a culture where executives embrace competing for the top job. They also have a robust system for developing leaders, by offering them opportunities to grow in functional and developmental assignments, stretching them through critical roles, and testing them in ever more demanding positions. In other words, they have built a pipeline of potential future CEOs that can compete for the top role. This helps ensure that the company is well positioned for future success. It also sends a strong signal to all the employees that the organization is committed to leadership development and will support them in their quest for career advancement.