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A helpful index of terms commonly used in Horse Racing

Glossary A – B

ACEY-DEUCY – a riding style in which the jockey uses a longer stirrup on the left or inside leg

ACROSS THE BOARD – a bet on a horse to win, place and show

ACTION – describes a horse’s manner of movement

ADDED MONEY – money added to the purse of a race through nomination fees, starting or entry fees, by the racing association or by a breeding or other fund

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 – for higher caliber horses

ALLOWANCES – weight permitted to be reduced because of the conditions of the race, by age or by sex or because an apprentice is on a horse

ALSO-ELIGIBLE (AE) – a horse officially entered in a race, 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 just beginning his/her career 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 to compensate for their inexperience: usually 10 pounds until the fifth winner, seven pounds until the 35th winner and five pounds for one calendar year from the 35th winner

ASTERISK (*) – used beside a jockey’s name in the program to indicate an apprentice.  One asterisk = 5 lbs. allowance.  Two asterisks = 7 lbs.  Three asterisks = 10 lbs.

BABY RACE – a race exclusively for two-year-olds

BACKSIDE – stable area also called the backstretch

BACKSTRETCH – straightaway on the far side of track between the turns. Also entire stable area.

”BAD DOER” – a horse with a poor appetite.  May be due to anxiety or other digestive problems.

BALK – refusing to break from the starting gate.  If the horse does this more than once, the stewards can refuse the entry of the horse into a race until they are satisfied that the horse has been properly trained to come out of the gate.

BANDAGE – strips of cloth wound over padding around the lower part of a horse’s legs for support or protection against injury.  May be used in either a race or in a stall.

BAR SHOE – a horseshoe with a rear bar closing the two open ends to protect an injured foot

BAY (B) – a brown horse with a black mane, tail nose and lower legs.  Can range from light brown to dark.

BEARING IN (OR OUT) – deviating from a straight course

BIT – metal bar that fits in a horse’s mouth and is attached to the reins for control

BLACK (Bl.) – a very dark brown horse.  A true black horse has no brown hairs in muzzle area

BLACK TYPE – designation for a stakes winner or stakes-placed horse in a sales catalogue – tends to increase a horse’s value

BLANKET FINISH – three or more horses finishing a race so closely together they could be “covered by a blanket”

BLEEDER – a horse who bleeds from the nose during or after a workout or race due to ruptured blood vessel or tiny tear in the lungs.  Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhaging (EIPH)

BLINKERS – a cloth “mask” that goes over the horse’s head with lateral cups around the eyes to limit a horse’s peripheral vision.  Helps focus the horse and prevent distraction and must be declared as part of the equipment on the horse when it races.

BLOWOUT – a short, quick, timed workout, usually a day or two before a race

BOARD – totalisator board in the infield on which odds, betting pools and other information is displayed

BOBBLE – a bad step usually coming out of the starting gate evidenced by a horse ducking its head or nearly going to its knees

BOLT – sudden veering from a straight course

BOTTOM LINE – thoroughbred’s breeding on the female side or the bottom half of an extended pedigree diagram

BOUNCE – poor race run directly following a career-best or near-best performance

BOWED TENDON – rupture of the sheath enclosing the tendon from the knee to the fetlock joint, giving it a bowed appearance

BOXED IN – a horse that is racing on the rail/pylons and is surrounded by other horses in front, outside and behind it.  The horse is held up and unable to gain a clear passage.

BREAK – 1) the start of a race.  2) to train a young horse to accept saddle, bridle, harness, rider, driver etc.

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 province and in some cases, breeding or other funds, in varying proportions.

BREAKDOWN – when a horse suffers an injury; lameness that prevents it from running

BREAK MAIDEN – horse or rider winning first race of a career

BREEDER – owner of dam at time foal is born

BREEDING FUND – a fund set up by many provinces to provide bonus prizes for locally-bred horses

BREEZE – working a horse at a moderate speed; less effort than “handily”

BRIDLE – the equipment that goes over a horse’s head for control, consisting of the bit, headstall and the reins

BROODMARE – female horse used for breeding

BUG BOY – apprentice rider

BULLET (WORK) – the best time for the distance for a work on a given day at a track indicated on paper with a solid dot

BULL RING – small racetrack; usually less than one mile in distance

Glossary C-E

CARD – a term for a program of racing.  For example, twelve races on the card simply means twelve races will be run on that particular day.

CHALK – the favourite or the most heavily bet horse in a race

CHART – statistical “picture” of a race from which past performances are compiled.  Shows the position and margin of each horse at designated points of call, age, weight carried, owner, trainer, purse, odds, payoffs, times and other data.

CHECKED – when, during a race, a jockey or driver has to slow or stop the motion of his horse due to close quarters or interference

CHESTNUT – the light reddish-brown to golden orange colour of a horse with no black points.  Mane and tail are usually of matching colour.

CHUTE – a straight extension of the racetrack at the head of either the back or home stretches so that races do not have to start on a turn

CLAIMING – buying a horse out of a race for the entered price

CLAIMING RACE – race in which all horses entered are subject to being claimed or purchased for a specified price regardless of where they finish.  The horse goes to the new owner but any purse money won goes to the former owner.

CLASSIC – race of traditional importance

CLERK OF SCALES – an official whose chief duty is to weigh the riders before and after a race to be sure proper weight is carried

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 first turn after the finish line, closest to the Clubhouse end of the grandstand

COLOURS – the colourful shirt and cap cover worn by a jockey which signifies the owner or stable of the horse they are riding – silks

COLT – male horse under five years of age (thoroughbreds) or under four years of age (standardbreds)

CONDITION BOOK – book issued by racing secretary which sets the conditions of races to be run

CONDITION RACE – a race with conditions limiting it to a certain class of horse based on age, sex, money won or races won. Example: Fillies, three-year-olds, non-winners of two races other than maiden or claiming etc.

CONTRACT RIDER – jockey riding under contract to a stable

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

COVER – when a horse runs behind another horse moving on the outside of the field, it faces less wind resistance (i.e. it is racing with cover)

CUPPY (TRACK) – a surface which breaks away under a horse’s hoof

CUSHION – surface of track or a layer of the track

DAILY DOUBLE – type of wager calling for the selection of the winners of the first and second races on the card

DAM – the mother of the horse

DEAD-HEAT – two or more horses finishing in an exact tie at the wire

DEAD TRACK – racing surface lacking resiliency

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 or driver

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 or driver to prevent injury or harm to the horse

EASILY – running or winning without being pressed by rider/driver 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 worn by a horse, jockey or driver in a race.

EQUIVALENT ODDS – mutuel price horses pay for each $1 bet

EVENLY – neither gaining nor losing position nor distance during a race

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 BET – a wager on a race that is something other than win, place or show

EXTENDED – forced to run at top speed

EXTRA WEIGHT (ADDED WEIGHT) – more weight than conditions of race require

Glossary F-H

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.

FALSE FAVOURITE – a horse who is bet down to favouritism when others would appear to outclass him on form

FAST TRACK – footing at its best; dry, fast and even

FAVOURITE – the horse that has the most money bet on it to win

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 (thoroughbred) and up to and including the age of 3 (standardbreds)

FIRM – a turf course condition corresponding to fast on a dirt track

FIRST OVER – in harness racing, the first horse to challenge the leader in a race, moving up on the outside

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

FOAL – newly born horse until it is weaned. Male or female

FOUR FURLONGS – half a mile; 880 yards; 2,640 feet

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

FREE-LEGGED – a pacer which races without hopples

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, pace, canter, gallop, run, etc.

GALLOP – a four-beat gait, faster than a canter. Also, to ride a horse at that gait, as in to “gallop a horse”

GATE – the starting mechanism which thoroughbreds break out of at the start of a race or which standardbreds race behind to line them up for the beginning of a race

GELDING – a castrated male horse of any age

GET – progeny of sire

GOING – term used to describe the condition of the track – fast, muddy, firm, yielding, etc.

GOING AWAY – to win while increasing lead – drawing away

GOOD BOTTOM – track that is firm under the surface, which may be sloppy or wet

GOOD TRACK – condition between fast and slow

GRADED RACE – races designated as the most prestigious in Canada and the United States (Grade I, Grade II, Grade III)

GRADUATE – winning at a class and moving up

GREY – a horse whose colouring is a mixture of white and black hairs.  The mane and tail can be of darker or lighter colours.

GROOM – licensed handler responsible for the daily care of one or more race horses

GROUP RACE – European equivalent to graded races

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.

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.

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

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.

Glossary I-M

IN FOAL – a pregnant mare

IN THE MONEY – finishing first, second or third

IN HAND – running under moderate control, at less than best pace

IMPOST – weight carried or assigned

INQUIRY – stewards or judges reviewing the race to check into a possible infraction of the rules

IRONS – stirrups

JAIL – refers to the first month a claimed horse is in a new barn whereby racing rules require it to be entered at a claiming price above that which it was claimed

JOCKEY – the person who rides a horse in a race

JOCKEY AGENT – one who secures riding assignments for a jockey in return for a percentage of the jockey’s earnings

JOCKEY FEE – sum paid to a rider.

JOG – slow, easy gait.

JUVENILE – a two-year-old horse.

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.

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.

MUDDY TRACK – deep condition of racetrack after being soaked with water.

MUDDER – horse who races well on muddy tracks.

Glossary N-P

NEAR SIDE – left side of a horse; the side on which it is mounted

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.

OBJECTION – claim of foul lodged by a rider.

ODDS-ON – odds of less than even money.

OFFICIAL – sign displayed when result is confirmed. Also racing official.

OFF TRACK – an off track refers to a wet racing surface.

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.

PACER – a pacer moves its legs laterally, right front and right hind together, then left front and left hind.

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.

PLACE – second position at finish.

PLACE BET – wager on a horse to finish first or second.

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.

POST – starting point or position in the starting gate.

POOL (mutuel pool) – total sum wagered.

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.

Glossary Q-S

QUALIFIER – a race where a harness horse must contest a mile, below an established time standard, to prove itself capable of competing in pari-mutuel races

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.

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 horse with one nut.

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.

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 BET – wager on a horse to finish in the money, third or better.

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.

STAKES-PLACED – finishing first, second or third in a stakes race.

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.

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.

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 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.

SUSPEND (or SUSPENSION) – a punishment for infraction of rules.

Glossary T-Z

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.

TRIAL – workout.

TRIACTOR – a wager picking the first three finishers in exact order.

TRIP – a horse’s race.

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

TROTTER – a trotter moves its legs forward in diagonal pairs, right front and left hind, then left front and right hind striking the ground simultaneously.

TUCKEDRacing immediately behind another horse, thus using it as a windbreak trailing.. A driver may place his horse in a trailing position in order to save enough energy for a fast finish down the home straight.

TURF COURSE – grass course.

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

UNDER WRAPS – horse under stout restraint in a race or workout.

UNTRIED – not raced.

UDRS/UTRS (Universal Driver/Trainer Rating System) – A method of determining that status of a driver or trainer based on the amount of wins, seconds, and thirds he/she has in relationship to the number of starts. The formula, as set by the United States Trotting Association, is below:
UDRS/UTRS = (Wins x 9) + (Places x 5) + (Shows x 3)….divided by (Starts x 9).

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.

WINDED – breathing with difficulty after workout or race.

WINNER-TAKES-ALL – a winner receiving all the purse or stakes.

WORK – to exercise a horse.

YEARLING – a thoroughbred or standardbred between the first New Year’s Day after being foaled and the following January 1 in the Northern Hemisphere

YIELDING – a turf course condition corresponding to slow on a dirt track