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Animal rights organizations have long criticized horse racing. Activists have sought to expose horse doping, institute a ban on horse whipping by jockeys, limit the number of races a horse (especially three years old and younger) can run in a season, and eliminate dirt tracks in favour of safer synthetic surfaces. Two notable tragedies in the early 21st century helped propel calls for reform: the shattering of bones in one of Kentucky Derby champion Barbaro’s legs just seconds after the start of the Preakness Stakes in 2006 (the horse was euthanized eight months later) and the death of three horses during production of the TV series Luck (2011–12), a drama about horse racing. (The deaths and subsequent outcry among many viewers helped lead to the abrupt cancellation of the show after just one season.) Such events—augmented by the changing interests of the global sporting public—contributed to the continuing decline in the popularity of horse racing through the first decades of the 21st century.
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The earliest American racecourses were typically straight quarter-mile sprints. For these short distances, American jockeys developed a style of riding involving a short stirrup and a crouching posture—this “American seat” eventually became standard worldwide for all distances. As longer, elliptical racetracks were built in New York and throughout the South, a greater onus was placed on jockeys to pace their horses. Because Thoroughbred horses are capable of running only about a quarter of a mile at top speed, determining what pace to set and when to unleash this burst of speed is crucial to winning. The American jockey Isaac Murphy was famous in the 1880s and ’90s for his “grandstand finishes.”
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The No. 20 Villanova Wildcats continue their final multi-game road swing of the season as they visit Capital One Arena to tip off against the Georgetown Hoyas. Villanova has been on a win-one, lose-one streak over its last four games, while Georgetown is looking to avoid a season-long three-game slide. The Wildcats topped the Hoyas 77-65 in early February and are a 6-point favorite in tonight’s game with the total opening at 149 points.
In 2010, Benter married Vivian Fung, whom he’d met at the Rotary Club in Hong Kong. The couple have a young son, and Benter seems in every sense a contented man. An active philanthropist, he donated $1 million to a Pittsburgh charter school program and $3 million to a polio immunization effort in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and parts of Africa. In 2007 he started the charitable Benter Foundation, which donates to health, education, and the arts. Many of the people he meets at fundraising galas and nights at the opera have no idea how he made his money.
Individual flat races are run over distances ranging from 440 yards (400 m) up to two and a half miles (4 km), with distances between five and twelve furlongs being most common. Short races are generally referred to as "sprints", while longer races are known as "routes" in the United States or "staying races" in Europe. Although fast acceleration ("a turn of foot") is usually required to win either type of race, in general sprints are seen as a test of speed, while long distance races are seen as a test of stamina. The most prestigious flat races in the world, such as the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, Melbourne Cup, Japan Cup, Epsom Derby, Kentucky Derby and Dubai World Cup, are run over distances in the middle of this range and are seen as tests of both speed and stamina to some extent.