Horse Racing Glossary

Across The Board
Three equal bets, to win, place and show, on one horse.

Allowance Race
A non-claiming race which has conditions to determine the horses that are eligible to enter. For example, an allowance race might be open to horses that have not won three races.

Also Eligible
An entered horse that will race only if a scratch occurs (at or prior to scratch time) in the body of the field.

Also-Ran
Finished out of the money.

Apprentice
Rookie jockey who receives weight allowances.

Backstretch
1) The straightaway on the far side of the race track.
2) Area where stables are located.

Bear Out
To drift or veer out toward the outside of the track.

Bit
Metal bar that fits in horse’s mouth and is attached to the reins; used for control.

Bleeder
Horse that bleeds during heavy exertion, usually from small vessels or capillaries in respiratory system.

Blinkers
A common piece of racing equipment that contains eye cups which limit a horse’s vision and prevent distraction.

Bloodline
Pedigree of a horse.

Blow Out
Workout before a race to limber up a horse.

Bolt
A sharp left- or right-hand movement by a horse.

Book
Jockey’s record of riding engagements.

Break
1) The start of a race.
2) To train a young horse to accept saddle, bridle and rider.

Break Maiden
When a horse gets his first win.

Breeze
1)To run easily, under a hold, without much encouragement.
2) A generic expression for a morning workout.

Broodmare
Female Thoroughbred used for breeding purposes.

Broodmare Sire
The sire of the dam of a Thoroughbred.

Call
1) To describe the running of a race.
2) A specific point in a race at which running positions are recorded.
3) A verbal contract between a jockey and a trainer.

Card
A day’s racing program.

Cast
1) A horse that had laid down or fallen and is unable to rise.
2) Lost or thrown, such as a horseshoe.

Chalk
The betting favorite.

Chart
Result chart that shows all horses and their positions at various points in a given race along with the time of the race.

Chute
Extension of the stretch allowing for long, straight runs from the gate to the first turn.

Circuit
Tracks whose meets are in sequence, allowing stables to follow a circuit.

Claiming Race
A type of race in which the horses are entered for a specific price and may be purchased (claimed) before the race. A claiming price helps to classify horses and keep the competition in a race fairly equal.

Clocker
One who times workouts.

Close
To gain ground on the leader.

Clubhouse Turn
Usually the turn found on the right-hand side of the track as seen when facing the track from the stands.

Colors
Jockey silks and cap done in horse owner’s colors and pattern.

Colt
A male horse that is four years old or younger.

Common
A reference to a horse which lacks class and/or one which fails to give a full effort.

Condition Book
Track publication for horsemen announcing conditions of upcoming races.

Coupled
Two or more horses that have the same owners or trainers are said to be coupled. These horses run as an “entry,” and a bet on one horse automatically includes the other.

Cuppy
A description of a dirt track surface which is loose and dry, therefore tending to break away from the horses as they run.

Cushion
The top level of the racing surface.

Daily Racing Form
Daily newspaper of racing which provides statistics, racing news and past performance records of horses competing in races that day.

Dam
The mother of a horse.

Dark Day
A day when a track does not conduct racing during their regular season.

Dead Heat
When two horses cross the finish line at the same time and are inseparable by the photo-finish camera, the race is declared a tie, or dead heat.

Dead Weight
Tack and lead slabs that bring rider up to the horse’s assigned weight.

Derby
Stakes races for three-year-olds.

Disqualify
To officially lower a horse’s actual finish position due to interfering with other horses, carrying too little weight, not conforming to conditions of eligibility of having systemic substances above allowed limits.

Dogs
Rubber cones placed away from the inner rail on the turf course during morning workouts in order to prevent wear and tear of the main portion of course; also sometimes used on dirt tracks when they are muddy or sloppy.

Dwelt
When a horse breaks very slow from the gate.

Ease Up
To slow a horse’s stride to prevent undue exertion.

Eighth Pole
Colored post inside the inner rail exactly one-eighth mile back from the finish line.

Equine
A horse.

Farrier
Blacksmith, one who makes and attaches horseshoes.

Fast Track
1) Dry racing surface.
2) Description of a dirt surface on which faster than normal times are being recorded.

Field
1) Used to describe all the horses in a race.
2) Also when there are more starters in a race than the tote board is able to show odds for, the remaining horses run as a single betting option, or “field.”

Filly
A female horse that is fours years old or younger.

Foal
1) Newborn equine.
2) To give birth.

Footing
Condition of racing surface.

Form
1) A horse’s current condition.
2) Short for Daily Racing Form.

Fractions
Clocking of time at intervals in races or workouts.

Free-Running Type
A horse which tends to take a strong hold of the bit and pull its way to lead during the early stages of a race.

Freshening
Layoff or vacation from racing.

Furlong
One eighth of a mile; most races are measured in furlongs.

Game
Determined.

Gelding
A castrated horse.

Genuine
Refers to an honest horse; one which gives everything it has in races.

Going Away
To win while increasing lead.

Good Track
A drying track surface between sloppy and fast.

Graduate
1) To break maiden.
2) To describe a horse which has fulfilled one condition and moves on to a higher level.

Green
A description of a horse which is temperamentally immature.

Groom
Stable employee assigned to tend to a horse or horses, including bringing the horse to the paddock for a race.

Halter
Strap or rope by which horses are led.

Hand
A horse’s height is measured in “hands.” A hand equals four inches.

Handicap
1) To study the background of racehorses to determine educated wagering choices.
2) A type of race in which horses are assigned specific weights in order to bring about an equal contest.

Handle
The total amount of money wagered. This term could refer to a particular race, day or season.

Heavy Track
A running surface drier than muddy and quite slow.

Homestretch
The stretch of track from the final turn to the finish line.

Horse
The term applied to an un-castrated horse that is five years old or more.

Horse’s Birthday
All horses become one year older on January 1 of each year for purposes of competition.

Horsing
A filly or mare in heat.

Infield
The area within the inner racing surface.

In Hand
Running under restraint to conserve energy.

Inquiry
Investigation by officials to determine if a race was won fairly and without interference.

In The Money
1) For fans; a win, place or show finish resulting in a mutual payoff.
2) For owners; a finish resulting in receiving a portion of the purse.

Irons Another name for stirrups, where jockeys place their feet when riding.

Jail
Refers to the first month a claimed horse is in a new barn (new owner and trainer) whereby racing rules require it to be entered at a claiming price above that which it was claimed, should the new owner wish to race it.

Jockey Agent
One who secures riding assignments for a jockey in return for a percent of the jockey’s earnings.

Journeyman
A licensed jockey who has completed his apprenticeship.

Juvenile A two-year-old equine.

Lead Pad
Saddle pad with pockets to hold lead weights; inserted to bring jockey up to assigned weight.

Lead Pony
1) Horse on which outrider or pony person escorts Thoroughbreds onto track and to starting gate.
2) Any horse on the track that will not be racing.

Leg Up
1) To build a horse’s stamina and speed through exercise.
2) To help a rider up on a horse.

Length
1)Refers to the length of the average horse.
2) Used to describe the distance between horses when a race is being run.

Live Weight
A jockey’s weight.

Lock
An apparent “sure thing,” used to describe a horse’s chance of winning.

Lugging In
Used to describe a horse which is pulling strongly to the inside while running.

Maiden
A horse of either sex that has never won a race.

Mare
A female horse that is five years old or more.

Morning Glory
A horse which works fast in the morning, but fails to perform to expectations when racing in the afternoon.

Morning Line
The track handicapper’s estimate of the probable odds in a race. These odds are printed in the program and posted on the tote board.

Mudder
A horse that prefers muddy or sloppy tracks.

Muddy Track
A surface with a good deal of moisture in it, but little or no standing water on it.

Objection Interference complaint made by a jockey or trainer.

Off The Board
1) Finished out of the money.
2) Describes the betting action on a horse which is being very heavily bet.

Off Track
1) A running surface other than fast.
2) Wagering conducted away from the track.

One-Paced
A description of a horse with acceleration.

One-Run Type
A horse which tends to lag toward the back of the pack during the early stages of a race before mounting a late run.

On The Nose
A bet to win.

Outrider
An official on a lead pony who leads the Thoroughbreds onto the track and to the gate; the outrider enforces the rules regarding conduct on the track.

Overlay
Odds higher than they should be, based on horse’s chances of winning. See keep’s Handicapping tips for more information.

Overnight
A listing of the next day’s entries.

Overweight
Weight over the amount officially assigned to a horse because the jockey is too heavy.

Pace
The tempo set by the leaders in the early and middle stages of a race.

Paddock
The area where horses are saddled prior to a race.

Pari-mutuel
A system of wagering in which the total money wagered is distributed to winning ticket holders, less a fixed percentage returned for race track management, state tax and the racing industry. So, fans are wagering against each other and not the track.

Photo Finish
Practice in which a photo is used to determine order of finish in a race.

Plater
1) Claiming horse.
2) A farrier.

Plodder
A slow horse; one which lacks acceleration.

Pool
The total amount of money wagered on type of bet.

Post
1) The starting gate.
2) The time a race will begin.

Post Position
The horse’s position in the starting gate, numbered from the inside rail.

Quarter
1) Quarter mile, or two furlongs.
2) The side of the hoof.

Rabbit
A horse which is entered in a race to insure a fast pace.

Racing Secretary
The race track official who writes the conditions for races, and also assigns weights in handicap races.

Racing Times
A daily racing publication providing statistics, feature stories and analysis.

Rank
A description of a horse which fights the rider’s attempt to relax it during the early or middle stages of a race.

Ridgling
A male equine with one testicle.

Route
A long race, usually a mile or more.

Salute
The wave of the whip by jockeys to the stewards after a race in customary request to dismount.

Scale of Weights
Official listing of weights carried in a race by horses according to sex, age, distance of the race and the season.

School
To train a horse, especially in the paddock and starting gate.

Scratch
Withdraw a horse from a race.

Set Down
1) To suspend a jockey, trainer, etc., from racing for a specific period of time.
2) To ask a horse for speed.

Sex Allowance
Weight allowance given to females in races against males.

Shadow Roll
Roll of sheepskin strapped across a horse’s nose to keep it from looking down and shying from shadows.

Shed Row
Track barn area.

Shoe Board
A sign listing the kind of shoes to be worn by each entrant.

Shut Out
Failing to get a bet in before the race begins.

Silks
Jockey’s jacket and cap, also called colors.

Sire
The father of a horse.

Sloppy Track
A running surface in which water stands on the surface prior to sinking in and running off.

Slow Track
A running surface wetter than good but not as thick as muddy or heavy.

Sophomore
Three-year-old equine; termed a sophomore because horses don’t start racing until they are two years old.

Sound
Free of physical problems.

Sprint
A short race, usually 7 furlongs or less.

Stewards
Three racing officials, who apply racing law to human and equine conduct at a race meet.

Stud
A breeding stallion.

Sucker
Refers to a horse which has the ability to win races but fails to go through with its run when faced with the prospect of taking the lead.

Tack
The equipment that goes on a horse along with the jockey.

Take Out
The money deducted from each wagering pool and apportioned to the state and the track.

Take Back
To restrain a horse back off the pace.

Take up
To pull a horse up sharply during the running of a race in order to avoid making contact with another horse.

Teletimer
Electronic timer that flashes on the tote board; it is activated by breaking a light beam.

Tongue Strap or Tie
A cloth or leather band used to tie down a horse’s tongue to prevent the tongue from interfering with breathing during a race or workout.

Tote Board
Located in the infield, it provides odds to win on each entrant in a given race, plus individual and total amounts wagered to win, place and show; also provides fractional times of race, minutes to next race and other information.

Turn of Foot
Acceleration.

Unerlay
An underlay is a over bet horse. See Keep’s handicapping tips for more information.

Ungenuine
Refers to a horse which fails to put forth a full effort, especially during the critical stages of a race.

Unsound
Suffering from physical ailments.

Valet
One who takes care of a jockey’s clothing and equipment and delivers his tack to the paddock.

Weanling
A newly weaned horse.

Weight
Refers to the weight assigned to each horse. Includes the jockey, his saddle, and other equipment. Lead weights are carried in saddle bags if needed.