Horse Racing Terms

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Horse Racing Terms

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

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

Backstretch - 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

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

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

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

Board - Totalisator board on which betting odds and pools are displayed

Break maiden - The first win of a horse’s career

Breeze - 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

Broodmare - A female horse used for breeding

Bullet - The best workout for a given day at a specific distance

Bull ring - A small racetrack

Chart - 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

Checked - 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

Clocker - A person who times workouts and races

Closer - A horse who comes from behind in a race

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

Colt - 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

Coupled - 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

Dam - The mother of a horse

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

Dead-heat - Two or more horses finishing in a tie

Distaff - Female. Or a race for fillies and mares

Dwelt - Breaking very slowly from the starting gate

Eased - A horse that is pulled up in a race

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

Exacta - 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

Farrier - A blacksmith, primarily responsible for the shoeing of horses

Field - The horses in a race

Filly - A female horse under the age of 5

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

Foal - A newborn horse

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

Furlong - One -eighth of a mile

Gallop - A type of gait faster than a canter

Gate - The starting gate of a race

Gelding - A castrated male horse

Granddam - The grandmother of a horse

Grandsire - The grandfather of a horse

Groom - A person who cares for a horse in a stable

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

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

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

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

Homebred - A horse bred by his owner

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

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

Hung - 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

Infield - The inner portion of a track inside of the racing surfaces

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

Irons - Stirrups, where the jockey places their feet while riding

Jumper - A steeplechase horse

Juvenile - A two -year -old horse

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

Length - 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

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

Mare - 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

Mudder - Horses who perform well on muddy or wet racetracks

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

Nose - The smallest unit of measurement a horse can win by

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

Off-track - A wet racing surface

On the board - Finishing among the top three

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

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

Parimutuel - 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

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

Pole - 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

Pool - 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

Purse - The prize money of a race

Quinella - 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

Rabbit - 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

Ridgling - A horse with one or two undescended testicles

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

Route - Refers to races at one mile or longer

Router - 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

Scratch - 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

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

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

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

Sire - The father of a horse

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

Sophomore - A three -year -old horse

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

Stallion - 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

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

Stayer - A horse who excels at longer distances

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

Stewards - Racetrack officials responsible for enforcing the rules

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

Stick - A jockey’s whip

Stretch - The final straight portion of a racetrack to the finish

Stud - A male horse used for breeding

Swayback - A horse with a dipped backbone

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

Tout - 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

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

Trip - 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

Turf - Grass

Underlay - 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

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

Walkover - 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

Washy - A horse sweating nervously before a race

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

Work - A formal exercise for a horse leading up to a race

Yearling - A one -year -old horse

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

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