Horse Racing Terms

A collection of popular horse racing and betting terms in an easy-to-use A-Z format:

Across the board

A bet on a horse to win, place, and show (it is actually three separate bets)

Allowance race

A race other than claiming for which the racing secretary establishes certain conditions to determine weights. It is the level of race between claiming and stakes

Also -eligible

A horse entered for a race but not allowed to run, usually due to the size of a starting gate or maximum capacity of a course, unless there is a defection from the main body of the field


A new jockey that has not ridden a certain number of winners in a specified time period


The straight on the far side of the track, between the turns. It can also refer to the stable area of a track

Bar shoe

A horse shoe with a rear bar to protect an injured foot


The bar in a horse’s mouth that allows the rider to guide them


Designation for a stakes winner or stakes -placed runner in sales catalogues. It refers to the bold, black font that distinguishes such races


A hood worn by a horse that limits their field of vision. Usually used to help the horse focus


Totalisator board on which betting odds and pools are displayed

Break maiden

The first win of a horse’s career


A horse’s workout that is done without maximum effort

Bridge jumper

A person who bets large amounts on a horse with very low odds. The name implies that the sum of money bet is so large the person will jump off a bridge if they lose


A female horse used for breeding


The best workout for a given day at a specific distance

Bull ring

A small racetrack


A numerical composite of a race that provides winning times and positions of each horse throughout the race. It also includes a written description of each horse’s journey


When a jockey must pull up a horse suddenly because he is shut off or in tight quarters

Claiming race

A race in which all horses can be purchased for a predetermined price. Buying a horse this way is known as making a claim


A person who times workouts and races


A horse who comes from behind in a race

Clubhouse turn

The first turn on a racetrack. Generally the one closer to the clubhouse


Male horse under 5 years of age

Condition book

A list of races written by the racing secretary to be run during a set period of time


Two or more horses comprising the same betting entity

Daily double

A wager in which the bettor must select the winner of two consecutive races


The mother of a horse


The sire of the broodmare (or the horse’s maternal grandfather)


Two or more horses finishing in a tie


Female. Or a race for fillies and mares


reaking very slowly from the starting gate


A horse that is pulled up in a race


Two or more horses forming the same betting entity in a race, usually because they share the same owner


A wager in which the bettor must select the first and second -place finishers in a race

Exercise rider

A jockey that rides a horse during workouts


A blacksmith, primarily responsible for the shoeing of horses


The horses in a race


A female horse under the age of 5


The designation of a turf course when there is a minimal amount of moisture in it


A newborn horse


The internal times of a race, usually the first quarter -mile, half -mile, and three -quarters, depending on the length of the race


One -eighth of a mile


A type of gait faster than a canter


The starting gate of a race


A castrated male horse


The grandmother of a horse


The grandfather of a horse


A person who cares for a horse in a stable


Similar to a bridle. Used in the handling of horses around the stable


The unit of measurement used to determine a horse’s height (from their withers to the ground). A hand equals four inches


The process of determining a winner based on past performances. It is also a race in which horses are assigned varying weights to carry


The amount of money wagered on a race, a card, a meet or a year


A horse bred by his owner


Can broadly refer to any thoroughbred but is more specifically a male 5 years or older


A person that cools off a horse by walking them after a workout or a race


A horse that appears as if they might win but ostensibly doesn’t have the desire to pass another horse

In foal

A pregnant mare

In the money

A horse that finishes first, second, or third


The inner portion of a track inside of the racing surfaces


A review of a race conducted by the track stewards to determine if an infraction occurred


Stirrups, where the jockey places their feet while riding


A steeplechase horse


A two -year -old horse


A common raceday medication that is given, typically to prevent a horse from bleeding


Measures the distance between horses in a race. A length is the distance from a horse’s nose to their tail, or about eight feet


A horse who has not yet won a race. Also the type of race for non -winners


A female horse 5 years or older

Morning line

Odds established ahead of time by a morning-line oddsmaker that are meant to approximate the final odds of a race


Horses who perform well on muddy or wet racetracks


A unit of measurement, about the length of a horse’s neck or a quarter of a length


The smallest unit of measurement a horse can win by


Odds that are less than even -money (or 1 -1)


A wet racing surface

On the board

Finishing among the top three


A horse whose chance of winning is greater than his odds suggest. In other words, a good bet


The area where horses are saddled before a race. Can also refer to a field for horses


The system of betting used for horse racing. In parimutuel wagering every bet of a particular type is grouped together in a pool, of which the track takes a percentage

Past performances

A list of past races for a horse, including important pieces of information for each race. It is the main means by which a handicapper analyzes a race

Photo finish

A result so close that a finish -line camera must be used to determine the winner

Pick-3 (or more)

A wager in which the bettor must select the winner of three consecutive races


Second position at the finish, or a type of bet in which a horse must finish either first or second to win


Markers around the track denoting how far the horses are from the finish line. There is typically a pole for every sixteenth of a mile


The total amount wagered on a specific type of bet

Post parade

The procession of horses coming out on to the track and past the stands before a race

Post position

The starting position for a horse within the gate

Post time

The time a race is intended to begin


The prize money of a race


Like an exacta, it is a type of wager in which the bettor must pick the first and second -place finishers in a race. The main difference is that in a quinella except the order of the horses doesn’t matter


A horse that is entered in a race without the intent of winning but to ensure a fast pace, usually for a better regarded stablemate


A horse with one or two undescended testicles


The coloration of a horse with white and red (or brown) hairs


Refers to races at one mile or longer


A horse who performs best at route distances (a mile or longer)

Saddle cloth

The cloth under the saddle that displays the horse’s number for a race


To be removed from a race, whether it be by the trainer, stewards, or veterinarian

Shadow roll

A roll worn halfway up a horse’s face to prevent him from seeing his own shadow


A rope attached to a horse’s bridle or halter by which they are led


Third position at the finish, or a type of bet in which a horse must finish first, second, or third to win


The jacket and cap worn by a jockey to signify who owns the horse


The father of a horse


A condition of a dirt racetrack in which the surface is wet with a firm bottom


A three -year -old horse


The highest level of competition for racehorses. There are Grade 1, 2, 3 and ungraded stakes races


An intact male horse

Starter race

An allowance race restricted to horses who have run for a specific claiming price or less

Starting gate

The mechanical device in which horses are entered prior to the start of a race and that springs open once it commences


A horse that is bred in a particular state and thus eligible to compete in races restricted to horses bred in that state


A horse who excels at longer distances


A horse being taken in hand by his rider, usually due to being put in close quarters


Racetrack officials responsible for enforcing the rules


A race in which horses must jump over obstacles such as hedges


A jockey’s whip


The final straight portion of a racetrack to the finish


A male horse used for breeding


A horse with a dipped backbone


The portion of a betting pool that the host track takes as commission for conducting the race


A person who gives out picks, or the act of giving out a pick

Track bias

A racing surface that favors a particular running style or path


A wager in which the bettor must select the first, second, and third -place finishers of a race


A horse’s journey around the racetrack

Triple Crown

Name given to the series of three races for 3-year-olds beginning with the Kentucky Derby. The Preakness Stakes is the second leg and the Belmont Stakes is the last




A horse whose chances of winning are less than what the odds suggest. In other words, a bad bet

Under wraps

A horse that wins while under restraint from the jockey at the end


The person who attends a jockey to make sure their equipment is in order


A race in which, due to scratches, there is only one horse. By rule the horse must gallop around the track at the specified distance

Warm up

Galloping a horse before a race to get them ready to run


A horse sweating nervously before a race


A horse that is less than one -year -old that has been separated from its dam


A formal exercise for a horse leading up to a race


A one -year -old horse


A condition of a turf course with a lot of moisture in the ground

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