The Daily Racing Blog understands that for the casual thoroughbred racing fan the weeks leading up to the Kentucky Derby can seem a bit slow. But beginning in March the KD prep-races are a good opportunity to preview some possible Derby contenders. It is also a time to get reacquainted with the terminology, so as not to be confused when the time comes to “Talk Derby” with the thoroughbred faithful.
Like many sports, horse racing has its own language. Whether it’s how to place a bet, or words on a race form, it can be a bit perplexing. But DRB is here to help. Below you’ll find a glossary of terms to know.
Across the board: A bet on one horse to win, place, and show.
Allowance or Allowance Race: A non-claiming event in which the racing secretary conditions weight allowances based on previous purse earnings and/or types of victories.
Also Eligible or “AE”: Horses entered into the field that will not run unless other horses are scratched.
Apprentice Jockey: A student jockey that will receive a weight allowance of varying degrees depending on his or her experience.
Backstretch: The straight part of the track opposite the finish line or the stable area.
Baby Race: A race for two year old horses, especially early in the season.
Blinkers: Eye equipment that limits a horse’s vision; generally used to help the horse concentrate on running and to reduce distraction.
Break Maiden: When a horse or rider wins for the first time.
Breeze: A term generally used to describe a workout in which a horse is easily running under a hold without encouragement from the rider.
Bridge jumper: A bettor that places large bets in the Place or Show pools on odds-on favorites.
Bug Boy: An apprentice jockey
Claiming Race: A race where each horse in the field has a price and can be purchased by any person that makes a valid claim prior to the running of the race.
Clocker: A person that times and/or rates workouts.
Clubhouse Turn: The first turn of races that begin on the front-stretch/homestretch.
Colt: A male horse.
Condition: To train a horse
Conditions: The circumstances under which a race will be run, such as: surface, distance, purse, and eligibility.
Daily Double: A wager in which the player attempts to pick the winner of two sequential races with a single ticket.
Dam: The mother of a horse.
Dark: A day in which a track is not featuring live racing.
Derby: A stakes race for three year old horses.
Eased: A horse that is pulled up or stopped prior to finishing the race
Exacta: A bet in which the player attempts to pick the 1st and 2nd place horse on one ticket.
Fast Track: Rating of a dirt track that is dry and hard.
Filly: A female horse
Fire Sale: A drastic reduction in the claiming price of a horse.
Foal: A newborn horse.
Form: The current condition of a horse.
Fractions: Clocking at quarter-mile increments in either a race or a workout.
Front Runner: A horse that wants to run on or near the lead.
Furlong: One eighth of a mile.
Gelding: A castrated male horse.
Going: The condition of the racing surface. Dirt courses are generally rated Fast, Good, Muddy, or Sloppy. Turf courses are generally rated Firm, Good, Yielding, Soft, or Heavy.
Graded Race: A stakes race that is assigned a grade (I, II, or III) by the American Graded Stakes Committee based on the relative strength of the race as compared to all other races. This is the highest form of racing.
Handicap: A race in which the racing secretary assigns weights designed to equalize the winning chances of the entrants; or to study horses’ records in order to determine the chances of each to win the race.
Handily: A fairly strenuous workout where the jockey urges the horse on but does not use the whip.
Handle: Total sum bet on a race or during an entire day.
Hand ride: A jockey that is urging a horse on by “scrubbing” his hand up and down its neck. A horse under only a hand ride was not whipped by the jockey.
Heavy Track: A grass racing surface that has received an extremely large amount of water and is an almost bog-like condition.
Horse: Technically, a male horse five years old or greater is a “horse”. A male horse under five years of age is technically a “colt”.
In hand: A horse running under restraint.
Inquiry: An official investigation by the stewards of the running of the race to determine whether a foul was committed by a horse or jockey.
In the money: To finish in the top four; this generally entitles the owner to a share of the purse. In betting terms “in the money” means to finish in the top three.
Jockey agent: An individual that obtains rides for a jockey.
Juvenile: A two year old horse.
Maiden: A horse that has never won a race; or a race for horses that have never won a race.
Marathon: A race longer than 1 ¼ miles long.
Mare: A female horse aged five or older.
Middle distance: A race longer than seven furlongs but shorter than 1 1/8 miles.
Miler: A horse that prefers to race at or near a mile in distance.
Morning line odds: The odds set by the track prior to the opening of the pools.
Muddy Track: A dirt track that is soft, wet and holding.
Oaks: A stakes race for three year old fillies.
Objections: A claim of foul by a jockey following the race.
Odds: The chances of a horse to win a particular race based on the pari-mutuel wagering of the general public.
Off the pace: A horse that is lagging back in the early stages of the race.
Off the board: A horse that fails to finish in the money.
Off-track: A racing surface that is anything other than Fast (Dirt) or Firm (Turf/Grass).
Pace: The speed of the leaders at each stage of the race.
Parimutuels: French system of wagering where winning bettors get all the money wagered by the losers, after a deduction of a percentage by the track (Take Out).
Post: Starting gate.
Quarter crack: An injury to the hoof of a horse.
Quarter pole: Post on the infield rail that indicates two furlongs to the finish line.
Rank: A horse that refuses to be rated early on in the race.
Rate: To restrain a horse early on in the race in order to conserve energy for the later stages.
Route: Generally a race that is run around two turns.
Scratch: To withdraw a horse from a race.
Shadow roll: A roll of cloth placed across a horse’s nose in order to block its vision of the ground and prevent it from jumping shadows.
Shipper: A horse that has traveled from one track to another to run in a race.
Shut out: When a player fails to make his bet at the window prior to the gate opening.
Sloppy track: A track that is wet, covered with puddles, but not yet “muddy”.
Spit the bit: When a tired horse stops running hard.
Sprint: A short race, seven furlongs or less.
Stewards: Three person panel that determines whether or not any rules violations occurred during the race.
Superfecta: A wager in which the player attempts to select the order of the first four finishers in a race. Due to the difficulty of this wager, a winning Superfecta wager generally pays out at high odds.
Tag: Claiming price. A horse entered for a “tag” is entered in a claiming race.
Track Take: Money deducted from each pool for track revenue and taxes.
Trifecta: A wager in which the player selects the first three horses in a race in order.
Trip: The course followed by a horse and rider during the running of a race and describes the “trouble” encountered. A horse that had a “good trip” did not encounter any unusual difficulty. A “bad trip” might involve racing wide, or being boxed in by other horses.
Turf course: A grass covered course.
Under wraps: A horse in which the rider is holding it back and intentionally keeping it from running at top speed.
Be sure to check back with us on Friday for more Equine Education.