Horse Racing Glossary

A list of terms you should know before blowing your social security check on the ponies


Across The Board - Three individual bets on one horse to Win, Place, and Show. If your horse wins, you collect on all three bets. If your horse runs second, you collect on Place and Show bets. If your horse runs third, you collect the Show bet. If your horse runs fourth, you run around screaming "Oh God, why me? Why me??!!"

Advance wagering - Wagering in advance? Yes, but ALL wagers are done in advance, at least the legal ones. Advance wagers are placed on races later than the current race or in a future performance.

Allowance Race - A race for which the racing secretary sets certain conditions to determine weights to be carried based on the horse's age, sex and past performance.

Also Eligible - A horse who is an alternate starter, who will get in the race if a starter is scratched.

Also-Ran - A horse that finishes out of the money.

Apprentice - Rookie jockey.

Average-Earnings Index (AEI) - A breeding statistic that compares the racing earnings of a stallion or mare's foals to those of all other foals racing at that time.

Backstretch - The part of the racetrack opposite the finish line.

Battery - An illegal electrical device used by a jockey to stimulate a horse. Hey, IYNCYNT

Bear Out - To drift toward the outside of the track.

Bleeder - A horse that bleeds from the lungs when small capillaries that surround the lungs' air sacs rupture.

Blinkers - Equipment that limits a horse's vision so that it isn't distracted.

Bloodline - A horse's pedigree.

Blow-out - A short, timed workout, usually a day or two before a race, designed to sharpen a horse's speed.

Bolt - A sudden veering from a straight course, usually to the outside rail.

Break - To leave from the starting gate.

Break One's Maiden - When a horse records its first career win.

Breeder - Owner of the dam at the time of foaling.

Breeders' Cup - Thoroughbred racing's year-end championships.

Breeze - To work a horse at a moderate speed.

Bridge Jumper - A person who wagers large amounts of money, usually on short-priced horses to show, hoping to realize a small, but certain profit. If they lose, they may seek a bridge to jump from.

Broodmare - A filly or mare that has been bred and is used to produce foals.

Bug Boy - A apprentice rider. The term comes from the "bug," the asterisk used to denote the weight allowance such riders receive.

Calk - A projection on the heels of a horseshoe that helps prevent the horse from slipping, especially on a wet track. Also known as a sticker.

Chalk - The wagering favorite in a race.

Chalk Eater - A derogatory term for a person who frequently bets on the favorite in a race.

Chart - A record of each race that shows the odds, calls, finish and chartwriter's comments describing each horse's performance. It's a great tool for handicappers to study a horse's past performance.

Claiming Race - A race in which any of the entrants can be claimed and bought for a predetermined price.

Clocker - The dude, or dudette, who times workouts and races.

Colt - An ungelded male horse four-years-old or younger.

Daily Double - You select the winners of the first and second races. You must place your bet before the start of the first race. (No kidding, Einstein)

Dam - A horse's mother.

Dead Heat - An exact tie at the finish line between two or more horses. A potential nightmare for the mutuel department.

Derby - A stakes race for three-year-olds.

Distaff Race - A race for female horses.

Exacta - A wager on the first two horses to cross the finish line in exact order. (same as perfecta)

Far Turn - The racetrack's third turn.

Fast Track - A track that has dry and even footing.

Favorite - The horse with the most money bet on it in the win pool.

Field - The number of entries in a race.

Filly - A female horse four-years-old or younger.

Foal - A horse of either sex in its first year of life.

Front Stretch - The portion of the racetrack closest to the stands. Also called home stretch

Furlong - A distance equal to 220 yards. There are eight furlongs in one mile.

Gait - The characteristic pattern of a horse's running or walking. A thoroughbred has four natural gaits: walk, trot, canter and gallop.

Gelding - A male horse of any age that has been neutered by having both testicles removed. Ouch!

Groom - A person who cares for a horse in a stable. Or it could be a guy about to get married.

Hand - A unit of measuring a horse's height. One hand equals four inches.

Handicap Race - A race for which the track handicapper assigns the weights to be carried.

Handicapping - The art of making selections on the basis of past performances.

Home Stretch - The portion of the racetrack closest to the stands. Also called front stretch.

Hot Walker - A person who walks horses to cool them out after a workout or race.

Infield - Area inside the oval track.

In the Money - A first, second or third place finish.

Jockey - The little guy, or gal, riding the horse.

Juvenile - A two-year-old horse.

Length - A margin equal to the length of one horse. It denotes how far ahead or behind a horse is during certain points of the race and at the finish.

Longshot - A horse will little money bet on it. His chances of winning are slim, but the potential payoff is high.

Maiden - A horse that has yet to win an official race.

Maiden Race - A race strictly for horses that have yet to win.

Match Race - A special race matching two horses. Rarely done these days.

Morning Line - Probable odds on each horse in a race, as determined by the track handicapper, who tries to gauge both the ability of the horse and the likely final odds as determined by the bettors.

Mudder - A horse who runs well on a muddy track.

Muddy Track - A track that's muddy. Really?

Mutuel Handle - The total amount of money wagered at one race, performance or full meeting.

NTRA - National Thoroughbred Racing Association.

Nose - The smallest margin of victory. Next smallest is head, followed by neck.

Paddock - The area where the horses are kept prior to the race.

Pari-mutuel Wagering - Wagering system in which the track and other organizations take their shares of the wagering pool, with the remaining money being distributed to the winning bettors.

Perfecta - A wager on the first two horses to cross the finish line in exact order. (same as exacta)

Photo Finish - A finish so close that judges must examine a photo to determine the correct placing of the horses.

Place - A wagering term describing the second horse to cross the finish line. A wager for place means you collect if your horse finishes either first or second.

Pole - A marker at a measured distance around the track designating the distance from the finish.

Post - A horse's post position.

Post Parade - The time when the jockeys walk the horses in front of the grandstand.

Post Time - The time a race is scheduled to be run. "It is now post time!"

Purse - The total prize money that is to awarded in a race.

Quiniela - A wager on the first two horses to cross the finish line in either order. Some people spell it "quinella" but they're wrong, wrong, wrong!

Rail - The fence that runs around the inside of the track.

Scratch - The withdrawing of a horse from a race's lineup. All wagers on the horse will be returned. Gee, that's swell of them to do that.

Show - The third horse across the finish line. A wager to show means you collect if your selected horse finishes either first, second or third. "Woo-hoo! I just won 40 cents!"

Silks - Jacket and cap worn by riders to designate owner of the horse, or at some smaller tracks, to designate post positions.

Simulcast - A broadcast of a race to betting facilities away from the live track.

Sire - A horse's daddy.

Stable - The business that cares for and races the horses.

Stakes Race - A race for which the owner usually must pay a fee to run a horse. The fees can be for nominating, maintaining eligibility, entering and starting, to which the track adds more money to make up the total purse.

Stallion - A male horse used for breeding.

Starting Gate - Partitioned mechanical device having stalls in which the horses are confined until the starter releases the stalls' confined front doors to begin the race.

Steeplechase - A race in which horses are required to jump over a series of obstacles on the course.

Stewards - Officials of the race meeting responsible for enforcing the rules of racing.

Stud Book - Registry and genealogical record of Thoroughbreds, maintained by the Jockey Club of the country in question.

Superfecta - A wager on the first four horses to finish in an exact order. Good luck doing that!

Takeout - The money taken from the betting pool by the track for the state, racing association, and any other groups that want to get their grubby hands on the money.

Totalisator Machine - A computer system that records wagers, prints tickets for bettors, calculates odds and displays them on screens.

Tote Board - A board, usually behind the racetrack's backstretch, that displays the odds, results, payoffs, etc. for each race.

Trainer - The person in charge of training the horse. Duh!

Trifecta - A wager on the first three horses to cross the finish line in exact chosen order.

Twin Trifecta - A multiple pool bet involving two trifecta selections in two races. You select the winning trifecta combination in one race and exchange that ticket for a second trifecta in the following race. One-half of the net Twin Trifecta pool will be paid equally to winners of the first half when those tickets are presented to be exchanged. The remaining half of the pool, along with any carry over will be to winners of the second half. If no one selects the second half correctly, the pool is carried over to the next racing performance. (And you thought the superfecta was hard!)

Wheel - A wager in which a horse is picked to win, place or show with every other horse in the race. "I wheeled the 3 in the perfecta in the 6th race. He got boxed in along the rail and never had a chance."

Win - A wagering term describing the first horse across the finish line.

Winner's Circle - Where the winning horse goes following the race. There will usually be a presentation of some sort involving the horse and its owner.

Wire - The race's finish line.

Yearling - A one-year-old horse.


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