In Japan, draft-horse racing is peculiar to the island of Hokkaido. Draft horses were first imported to the area for farm work from Europe in the 19th century, but it was in 1946 that jockeys began driving them for sport and draft-horse racing was officially established. Unlike regular horse racing, draft-horse racing in Japan isn’t fast. Horses are required to pull massive weight across a racetrack measuring 219 yards. The first horse and jockey team to cross the finish line is the winner.
While the debates continue, racetracks have closed, jobs have been lost and horses have been sold off for their meat. (Horsemeat is a delicacy in Japan.) In the end, it comes down to money: Nowadays, for draft horses in Hokkaido, their meat may be more valuable than their ability to draw gamblers.