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horse racing terms & glossary

Horse Racing Betting Terms & Glossary

A

ACROSS THE BOARD

A bet on a horse to win, place and show. You are wagering on a horse to Win, Place and Show. If your horse wins, you receive Win, Place and Show payouts. If your horse finishes second, you receive Place and Show payouts; and if your horse is third, you receive the Show payout. Because you are actually placing three wagers, the minimum wager is $2 for each bet or $6 in total.

ADDED MONEY

Money added to the purse of a race by the racing association or by a breeding or other fund.

AGENT

A person empowered to transact business for a stable owner, or empowered to buy and sell horses for an owner or breeder. 

ALL OUT

When a horse extends himself to the utmost.

ALLOWANCE RACE

A race other than claiming for which the racing secretary drafts certain conditions to determine weights.

ALLOWANCES

Weight permitted to be reduced because of the conditions of the race or because an apprentice is on a horse. Also, a weight females are entitled to when racing against males.

ALSO-ELIGIBLE

A horse officially entered, but not permitted to start unless the field is reduced by scratches below a specified number.

ALSO-RAN

A horse who finishes out of the money.

APPRENTICE

Rider who has not ridden a certain number of winners within a specified period of time. Also known as a bug boy.

APPRENTICE ALLOWANCE

Weight concession to an apprentice rider: usually 10 pounds until the fifth winner, seven pounds until the 35th winner and five pounds for one calendar year from the 35th winner.

B

BABY RACE

A race for 2-year-olds.

BACKSIDE

Stable area, dormitories and often times a track kitchen, and recreation area for stable employees. Also known as "backstretch" for its proximity to the stable area. 

BACKSTRETCH

1) Straight portion of the far side of the racing surface between the turns. 2) See backside. 3) Also stable area. 

BANDAGE

Strips of cloth wound around the lower part of a horse's legs for support or protection against injury.

BAR SHOE

A horse with a rear bar to protect an injured foot.  It is often worn by horses with quarter cracks or bruised feet. 

BAY

A horse color that varies from a yellow-tan to a bright auburn. The mane, tail and lower portion of the legs are always black, except where white markings are present.

BEARING IN (OR OUT)

deviating from a straight course.

BIT

A stainless steel, rubber or aluminum bar, attached to the bridle, which fits in the horse's mouth and is one of the means by which a driver exerts guidance and control. 

BLACK

A horse color which is black, including the muzzle, flanks, mane, tail and legs unless white markings are present. 

BLANKET FINISH

Horses finishing so closely together they could be covered by a blanket.

BLEEDER

A horse who bleeds during or after a workout or race due to ruptured blood vessel.

BLINKERS

Device to limit a horse's vision.

BLOWOUT

A short, final workout, usually a day or two before a race.

BLOWOUT

A short, final workout, usually a day or two before a race.

BOARD

Totalisator board on which odds, betting pools and other information is displayed.

BOBBLE

A bad step away from the starting gate, usually caused by the track surface breaking away from under a horse's hooves, causing it to duck its head or nearly go to his knees.

BOLT

Sudden veering from a straight course, usually to the outside rail.

BOUNCE

A poor race run directly following a career-best or near-best performance.

BOXED IN

A horse that is racing on the rail and is surrounded by other horses in front, outside and behind it. A horse that is boxed in is held up and unable to gain a clear passage.

BREAK

1) To train a young horse to wear a harness. Almost always done when the horse is a yearling. When a horse goes offstride. A harness horse competes at either a trot (diagonal gait) or pace (lateral gait). A break occurs when a horse goes offstride and into a gallop. 

BREAK MAIDEN

Horse or rider winning first race of a career.

BREAKAGE

in pari-mutuel payoffs which are rounded out to a nickel or dime, those pennies that are left over. Breakage is generally split between the track and state and in some cases, breeding or other funds, in varying proportions.

BREAKDOWN

When a horse suffers an injury; lameness.

BREATHER

Easing off on a horse for a short distance in a race to permit it to conserve it's energy.

BREEDER

owner of dam at time foal is dropped.

BREEDING FUND

a fund set up by many states to provide bonus prizes for state-breds.

BREEZE

working a horse at a moderate speed; less effort than handily.

BRIDLE

A piece of equipment usually made of leather or nylon, which fits on a horse's head.

BROODMARE

Female Thoroughbred used for breeding.

BUG

Apprentice rider.

BULL RING

Small racetrack; usually less than one mile.

BULLET (WORK)

The best time for the distance on a given day at a track.

BUTE

Short for phenylbutazone. a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication that is legal in many racing jurisdictions. Often known by the trade names Butazolidin and Butazone.

C

CALK

A projection on the heels of a horseshoe, similar to a cleat

CARD

Another term for a program of horse racing. For example, a person may refer to there being twelve races on the card, which simply means twelve horse races will be staged on that particular day.

CHUTE

an extension of the backstretch or homestretch.

CHUTE

an extension of the backstretch or homestretch.

CLAIMING

buying a horse out of a race for the entered price.

CLAIMING RACE

race in which horses are entered subject to claim for a specified price.

CLASSIC

race of traditional importance.

CLOCKER

one who times workouts and races.

CLOSER

a horse who runs best in the latter part of the race, coming from off the pace.

CLUBHOUSE TURN

generally, the turn closest to the clubhouse.

COLT

male horse under 5 years of age.

COMBINATION WAGER

wager that involve two or more horses and minimums vary by track and wager type

CONDITION BOOK

book issued by racing secretary which sets the conditions of races to be run.

CONDITION RACE

an event with conditions limiting it to a certain class of horse. Such as Fillies, 3-year-olds, non-winners of two races other than maiden or claiming etc.

CONTRACT RIDER

jockey under a contract to a stable.

COUPLED

two or more horses running as an entry in a single betting unit.

CUPPY (TRACK)

a surface which breaks away under a horse's hoof.

CUSHION

surface of track or a layer of the track.

D

DAILY DOUBLE

type of wager calling for the selection of winners of two consecutive races, usually the first and second. To collect, you must select the winner of two consecutive races. For example, you must select the winner of the first race and the second race. Wagers must be placed before the first of your two races.

DEAD TRACK

racing surface lacking resiliency.

DEAD-HEAT

two or more horses finishing in an exact tie at the wire.

DISQUALIFICATION

change of order of finish by officials for an infraction of the rules.

DISTAFF (DISTAFF RACE)

female. A race for fillies, mares, or both.

DISTANCED

well beaten, finishing a great distance behind the winner.

DQ

disqualified.

DRIVING

strong urging by rider.

DROPDOWN

a horse facing a lower class of rivals than he had been running against.EASED - chart caller's assessment of a horse that is being deliberately slowed by the jockey to prevent injury or harm to the horse.

E

EASILY

running or winning without being pressed by rider or opposition.

EIGHTH

a furlong; 220 yards; 660 feet, 1/8 of a mile.

ELIGIBLE

qualified to start in a race, according to conditions.

ENTRY

two or more horses owned by the same stable or (in some cases) trained by the same trainer and thus running as a single betting unit.

EQUIPMENT

whip, blinkers, etc. Gear carried by a horse in a race.

EQUIVALENT ODDS

mutual price horses pay for each $1 bet.

EVENLY

neither gaining nor losing position or distance during a race.

EXACTA

To collect, you must pick the horses that finish first and second in exact order. For example, if you play a 4-7 exacta, the #4 horse must Win and the #7 horse must Place (come in second) for you to win the exacta payoff.

EXACTA BOX

Is made to guarantee the outcome of the first two finishers regardless of which horse wins. For example, if you box the #4 and #7 horses and either the #4 or the #7 horse wins and finishes second, you win.

EXACTOR

a wager in which the first two finishers in a race, in exact order of finish, must be picked.

EXERCISE RIDER

male or female rider who is aboard a horse for morning workouts.

EXOTIC WAGER

wager that involve two or more horses and minimums vary by track and wager type

EXTENDED

forced to run at top speed.

EXTRA WEIGHT (ADDED WEIGHT)

more weight than conditions of race require.

F

FALSE FAVOURITE

a horse who is bet down to favoritism when others would appear to outclass him on form.

FALTERED

a term used for a horse that was in contention early and drops back in the late stages. It is more drastic than weakened but less drastic than stopped.

FAST TRACK

footing at its best; Dry, fast and even.

FIELD

the horses in a race.

FIELD HORSE (or MUTUEL FIELD)

 two or more starters running as a single betting unit, when there are more entrants than the totalisator board can accommodate.

FILLY

a female horse up to and including the age of 4.

FIRM

a turf course condition corresponding to fast on a dirt track.

FLATTEN OUT

when a horse drops his head almost on a straight line with its body. May indicate exhaustion.

FOAL

newly born Thoroughbred, or until weaned. Male or female.

FOUR FURLONGS

half a mile; 880 yards; 2,640 feet.

FRACTIONAL TIME

intermediate time recorded in a horse race, as at the quarter, half, three-quarters, etc.

FRESH (FRESHENED)

a rested horse.

FRONT RUNNER

a horse who usually leads (or tries to lead) the field.

FURLONG

one-eighth of a mile; 220 yards; 660 feet. GAIT - the ways in which a horse can move - walk, trot, canter, gallop, run, etc.

G

GALLOP

a type of gait, a fast canter. Also, to ride a horse at that gait.

GATE

the starting mechanism.

GELDING

an incomplete male horse.

GOOD BOTTOM

horse racing track that is firm under the surface, which may be sloppy or wet.

GOOD TRACK

condition between fast and slow.

GRADUATE

winning at a class and moving up.

H

HALF

half a mile, four furlongs; 880 yards; 2,640 feet.

HAND

four inches. Unit used in measuring height of a horse from withers to ground.

HAND RIDE

a jockey urging a horse with the hands and not using the whip.

HANDICAP

a race a handicapper assigns weights to be carried. Also, to handicap a race, to make selections on the basis of the past performances.

HANDICAPPER

one who assigns weights. Also one who makes selections on past performances.

HANDILY

working or racing with moderate effort, but more effort than breezing.

HANDLE

amount of money wagered in the pari-mutuel pool on a race, a program, a meeting or a year.

HEAD

a margin between the horses. One horse leading another by the length of his head.

HEAD OF THE STRETCH

beginning of the stretch run home.

HEAVY

the condition of a track similar to, but even slower than muddy.

HORSE

broadly, in any Thoroughbred regardless of sex. Specifically, an entire male 5 years old or older.

HUNG

a horse tiring, but holding position.

I

IMPOST

weight carried or assigned.

IN FOAL

a pregnant mare.

IN HAND

running under moderate control, at less than best pace.

IN THE MONEY

finishing first, second or third.

INQUIRY

stewards reviewing the race to check into a possible infraction of the rules.

IRONS

stirrups.

J

JOCKEY FEE

sum paid to a rider.

JOG

slow, easy gait.

JUVENILE

a two-year-old horse.

L

LASIX

a medication for the treatment of bleeding.

LATE DOUBLE

a second daily double offered on the latter part of the program. (See Daily Double).

LEAD PONY

horse or pony who heads parade of field from paddock to starting gate. Also a horse or pony who accompanies a starter to post.

LEG UP

to help a jockey mount his horse.

LENGTH

length of a horse from nose to tail, about 8 feet. Also distance between horses in a race.

LOCK

slang for a "sure thing" winner.

LUG (in or out)

action of a tiring horse, bearing in or out.

LUNGE

horse rearing or plunging.

M

MAIDEN

a horse who has not won a race. Also applied to a non-winning rider.

MAIDEN RACE

a race for non-winners.

MARE

female horse 5 years old or older. Also, female of any age who has been bred.

MEDICATION LIST

a list kept by the track veterinarian and published by the track and Daily Racing Form.

MIDDLE DISTANCE

broadly; From one mile to less than a mile and an eighth.

MINUS POOL

a mutual pool caused when one horse is so heavily wagered on, that after deductions of state tax and commission, there is not enough money left to pay the legally prescribed minimum on each winning bet.

MORNING GLORY

a horse who performs well in morning workouts but fails to reproduce that form in races.

MORNING LINE

approximate odds quoted before wagering determines exact odds.

MUDDER

horse who races well on muddy horse racing tracks.

MUDDY TRACK

deep condition of racetrack after being soaked with water.

N

NECK

a unit of measurement; a quarter of a length.

NOD

lowering of head. Winning in that manner.

NOSE

smallest advantage a horse can win by.

O

OBJECTION

claim of foul lodged by a rider.

ODDS-ON

odds of less than even money.

OFF TRACK

an off track refers to a wet racing surface.

OFFICIAL

sign displayed when result is confirmed. Also racing official.

ON THE BOARD

finishing among the first four.

ON THE NOSE

betting a horse to win only.

OVERLAY

a horse going off at a higher price than he appears to warrant based on his past performances.

OVERNIGHT LINE

prices quoted the night before the race.

OVERNIGHT RACE

a race in which entries close a specific number of hours before running (such as 48 hours) as opposed to a stakes race for which nominations close weeks and sometimes months in advance.

OVERWEIGHT

extra weight carried by a horse when the rider cannot make the required weight.

P

PADDOCK

the area where horses are saddled.

PADDOCK JUDGE

official in charge of the paddock and saddling routine.

PARIMUTUEL

a form of wagering that originated in France in which all money bet is divided up among those who have winning tickets, after taxes, takeout and other deductions are made.

PAST PERFORMANCES

a compilation in the Daily Racing Form of a horse's record, including all pertinent data, used as a basis for handicapping.

PATROL JUDGES

officials who observe the progress of a race from various vantage points around the track.

PHOTO FINISH

a result so close it is necessary to use a finish-line camera to determine order of finish.

PICK 3

To collect, you must pick the winners of three consecutive races. You must make your selections before the first race of your Pick 3 wager.

PICK 4

To collect, you must pick the winners of four consecutive races. You must make your selections before the first race of your Pick 4 wager.

PICK 6

To collect, you must pick the winners of six consecutive races. You must make your selections before the first race of your Pick 6 wager. The Pick 6 wager can offer the largest payoffs in racing.

PLACE

second position at finish.

PLACE WAGER

you collect if your horse finishes first or second. However, if your horse wins, you only collect the Place payout. The minimum wager is $2.

PLACING JUDGES

officials who determine the order in which horses reach the finish line.

POCKET

boxed in, shut off. Running in a position with horses in front and alongside.

POLE

markers at measured distances around the track, marking the distance from the finish. The quarter pole, for instance, is a quarter of a mile from the finish, not from the start.

POOL (mutuel pool)

total sum wagered.

POST

starting point or position in the starting gate.

POST PARADE

horses going from paddock to starting gate past the stands.

POST POSITION

position of stall in starting gate from which a horse starts.

POST TIME

designated time for a race to begin.

PREP (or PREP RACE)

a workout or a race to prepare a horse for a future engagement.

PURSE

prize money.

Q

QUARTER

one-quarter of a mile; 440 yards; 1,320 feet.

QUARTER POLE

marker one-quarter mile from the finish.

QUINELLA

a wager in which the first two finishers must be picked in either order.

R

RABBIT

a horse that is considered to have little chance of winning a race but is entered purely to ensure a fast pace, softening up the competition for the benefit of the entry mate.

RACING SECRETARY

official who drafts conditions of races and assigns weights for handicap events.

RAIL RUNNER

horse who prefers to run next to inside rail.

RESERVED

held off the pace.

RIDDEN OUT

refers to a horse that wins under a vigorous hand ride but is not being whipped.

RIDGLING

a male horse with an undescended testicle.

ROMP

running (or winning) with utmost ease.

ROUTE

race distance of a mile or longer.

ROUTER

horse who perfoms well at distance races.

RUNDOWN BANDAGES - (or WRAPS)

bandages on the hind legs.

S

SADDLE CLOTH

a cloth under the saddle on which a horse's wagering number is displayed.

SCALE OF WEIGHTS

fixed imposts to be carried by horses in a race according to age, distance, sex, and time of year.

SCRATCH

to be taken out of a race.

SECOND CALL

a second engagement of a jockey who already is listed for a mount in a race.

SET DOWN

a suspension. Also, put to a drive, or asked to run by the jockey.

SEVEN FURLONGS

seven-eighths of a mile; 1,540 yards; 4,620 feet.

SEX ALLOWANCE

fillies and mares, according to their age and time of year, are allowed to carry less weight when meeting males.

SHOW

third position at the finish.

SHOW

third position at the finish.

SHOW WAGER

wager on a horse to finish in the money, third or better. You collect if your horse finishes first, second or third, but you collect only the Show payout.

SILKS

jacket and cap worn by riders which designate owner of the horse.

SIX FURLONGS

three-quarters of a mile; 1,320 yards; 3,960 feet.

SIXTEENTH

one-sixteenth of a mile; 110 yards, 330 feet.

SLOPPY

condition of track. Wet on surface with firm bottom.

SLOW

footing that is not fast, between good and heavy.

SOLID HORSE

contender.

SOPHOMORE

three-year-old horse.

STAKE

a race for which the owner must pay a fee to run his horse. Some stakes races are by invitation and require no payment or fee.

STAKES HORSE

one capable of competing in such events.

STAKES-PLACED

finishing first, second or third in a stakes race.

STALLION

entire male horse.

STARTER RACE

an allowance or handicap race restricted to horses who have started for a specific claiming price or less.

STARTING GATE

a mechanical device having partitions (stalls) for horses in which they are confined until the starter releases the doors in front to begin the race.

STATE-BRED

a horse bred in a particular state and thus eligible to compete in special races restricted to state-breds.

STEADIED

a horse being taken in hand by his rider, usually because of being in close quarters.

STEPS UP

a horse moving up in class.

STEWARDS

officials of the meeting responsible for enforcing the rules.

STRAIGHT WAGER

Wagers only involve one horse (i.e. win, place, show)

STRETCH

final straight portion of the racetrack to the finish.

STRETCH CALL

position of horses at the eighth pole, usually about halfway down the stretch.

STRETCH RUNNER

horse who finishes fast.

STRETCH TURN

bend of horse racing track into homestretch.

STRIDE

manner of going. Also distance covered after each foot has touched the ground once.

STUD

male horse used for breeding.

STUD BOOK

registry and genealogical record of the breeding of Thoroughbreds maintained by the Jockey Club.

SUBSCRIPTION

fee paid by owner to nominate horse for a stakes race or to maintain eligibility for a stakes race.

SUPERFECTA

Is similar to an exacta and trifecta, except you must pick the horses that finish first, second, third and fourth in exact order.

SUSPEND (or SUSPENSION)

a punishment for infraction of rules.

T

TACK

riders' racing equipment.

TAKE (or TAKEOUT)

a commission deducted from pari-mutuel pools.

TAKEN UP

a horse pulled up sharply by his jockey.

TOPWEIGHT

highest weight assigned or carried in a race.

TOTALISATOR

a machine which sells and records wagering tickets and shows odds. Also figures out and displays payoffs.

TOUT

one who gives tips on racehorses.

TRACK BIAS

a racing surface that favors a particular running style or post position.

TRACK RECORD

fastest time at various distances recorded at a particular track.

TRIACTOR

a wager picking the first three finishers in exact order.

TRIAL

workout.

TRIFECTA

Is similar to an exacta, except you must pick the horses that finish first, second, and third in exact order. For example, if you play a 4-7-1 trifecta, the #4 horse must Win and the #7 horse must come in second and the #1 horse must come in third.

TRIFECTA BOX

Is made to guarantee the outcome of the first three finishers regardless of which horse wins. For example, if you box the #4, the #7 and #1 horses and either the #4 , #7 or the #1 horse wins, finishes second and third, you win.

TRIP

a horse's race.

TRIPLE CROWN

in the US: Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.

TURF COURSE

grass horse racing course.

U

UNDER WRAPS

horse under stout restraint in a race or workout.

UNDERLAY

a horse going of at a lower price than he appears to warrant based on his past performances.

UNTRIED

not raced.

W

WALKOVER

a race which scratches down to only one starter who merely gallops the required distance.

WARMING UP

galloping a horse.

WASHY

a horse breaking out in a nervous sweat.

WEANLING

a foal that is less than 1 year-old that has been separated from its dam.

WEIGHT-FOR-AGE

a fixed scale of weights to be carried by horses according to age, sex, distance of race and time of year.

WIN WAGER

You collect only if your horse finishes first. The minimum wager is $2

WINDED

breathing with difficulty after workout or race.

WINNER-TAKES-ALL

a winner receiving all the purse or stakes.

WORK

to exercise a horse.

Y

YEARLING

a thoroughbred between the first New Year's Day after being foaled and the following January 1.

YIELDING

a turf course condition corresponding to slow on a dirt horse racing track.