Glossary

Term Definition
Across the board This is a bet on a horse to win, place and show. If the horse wins, the bettor collects three ways; if it finishes second, two ways; and if third, one way, losing the win and place bets.
Added-money race Originally a “sweepstakes” in which the owner put up “stakes,” such as nominating fees, entry fees and starting fees, all of which went to the winner. Today the racetrack adds money to these fees, and this is called added money. In most stakes races, these fees as well as a major portion of the added money go to the winner of the race.
Allowance race A race for which the racing secretary writes certain conditions that determine the weights to be carried based on factors such as how many races and/or money each horse has won.
Also ran A horse that does not finish among the first three.
Also-eligible A horse officially entered to run in a race but who will not be permitted to start unless the field is reduced by scratches below a specified number.
Apprentice rider/allowance New riders start out as apprentices and are given weight allowances until they have ridden a certain number of winners within a specified period of time. Also known as a “bug,” from the asterisk used to indicate the weight allowance, it usually means 10 pounds until the jockey rides his fifth winner, seven pounds until the 35th winner and five pounds for one calendar year after the 35th winner. Apprentices do not receive any weight allowance when riding in a stakes race.
Backstretch The straightway on the far side of the racetrack. Also used as a reference to the stable area.
Bandages Bandages or cloth wrappings on a horse’s legs. They do not necessarily denote lameness or infirmity.
Barren A term that describes a broodmare that was bred in the last breeding season but did not conceive.
Black type Horses finishing first, second and third in a black-type stakes will qualify for bold (black) type in a pedigree. Many sales catalogs have eliminated the use of black type for stakes below a certain monetary value. If a horse’s name appears in boldface type and in all capital letters, the horse has won at least one black-type event. If it appears in boldface type and upper- and lowercase letters, it ran second or third in at least one black-type event.
Blinkers Once called the “Rogue’s Badge,” blinkers are a common piece of racing equipment today. The eye cups on the blinkers, depending on modifications, block side and rear vision in either or both eyes. The use or disuse of blinkers must be approved by the stewards and the change reported on the official program.
Blow out A brief last workout (usually three furlongs or a half mile) given a day or two prior to a race and designed to sharpen or maintain a horse’s condition.
Break maiden This term describes a horse or rider who has won the first race of his career.
Breakage The calculation of the return on a $2.00 wager is made to the nearest .10 in most states. For example, if the actual division of the pool comes out to $8.64, the official payoff is $8.60.
Breeze A breeze is working a horse at a moderate speed and involves less effort than a workout that is denoted handily.
Broodmare A female horse that has been bred and is used to produce foals.
Bug Or “bug boy;” an apprentice jockey so-called because of the “bug” or asterisk in the official program to denote that the weight carried includes the apprentice allowance.
Bullet A bullet work is the best workout time for a particular distance on a given day at a racetrack or training track.
Buy-back When a horse goes through a public auction and does not reach a minimum (reserve) price set by the consignor, it is a buy-back and is retained. The consignor must pay a fee to buy back the horse.
Chute A straightaway extension of either the homestretch or the backstretch used for distances that would otherwise necessitate starting on a turn.
Claiming race Any horse entered in a claiming race is subject to be purchased for a set price. Claims must be made before the race and only by licensed owners or their agents.
Clubhouse turn The turn to the right of the grandstand, so called because the Clubhouse is usually to the right of the general stands.
Colors The jockey’s silk or nylon jacket and cap provided by the owner. Distinctive colors are registered by the owner with The Jockey Club and with the state racing authority. The practice of using individually registered colors was introduced at Newmarket, England in 1762.
Condition book A series of booklets issued by a racing secretary that establish conditions for the races to be run at a particular racetrack. These books are published well in advance to help trainers plan training schedules.
Conformation The shape or proportionate dimensions of a horse; the physical makeup.
Coupled Two or more horses belonging to the same owner or trained by the same person are said to be “coupled” and they run as an “entry” comprising a single betting unit. Their program number regardless of post position would be “1” and “1A.” A second “entry” in the race would be listed in the program as “2” and “2B.” A bet on one horse of an entry is a bet on both.
Cushion The loose, top surface of the racetrack.
Daily Double This wager requires selecting the winners of two consecutive races, generally the first and second race of the day.
Dam The female parent of a foal.
Dead heat When the photo-finish camera shows two horses inseparable at the finish, the race is declared a “dead heat” or tie.
Disqualification When officials order a change in the order of finish in a race for an infraction of the rules, there is a disqualification.
Driving When a horse is running under extreme pressure, he is said to be “driving.”
Dwelt A horse that is slow in breaking from the starting gate is said to have “dwelt.”
Eased A horse that is gently pulled up by its jockey during a race.
Eclipse Award The year-end awards in Thoroughbred racing that honor the top horses in 11 categories; plus the leading owner, trainer, jockey, apprentice jockey, and breeder; plus members of the media who have demonstrated excellence in their coverage of the sport.
Eighth pole The pole one-eighth of a mile before the finish line.
Entry Two or more horses in a race, owned by the same stable, or trained by the same trainer are termed an “entry” and coupled as a single betting unit, a bet on one being a bet on both.
Exacta A wager in which the bettor must pick the first two finishers in a race in exact order of finish. In Canada, it is called an “exactor.”
Exercise rider A rider who is licensed to exercise a horse during morning training sessions.
Far turn The turn off the backstretch.
Farrier A blacksmith specializing in the shoeing, or plating, of horses. In early days he was also a horse doctor.
Fast A racetrack at its best condition is said to be fast.
Field This word has two meanings in racing. The entire group of starters in a race is known collectively as the “field.” However, a “field horse” is one of a group designated by the track handicapper in a case where there are more starters than there are betting units provided by the pari-mutuel equipment. Rightly called the “pari-mutuel field,” this group runs as a single betting unit. For example in the 1951 Kentucky Derby, there were only 12 betting units but 20 horses started. Seven started as individual betting units; four stables had entries of two horses each; the remaining five ran as the “field” and one of these, Count Turf, was the winner.
Fractional time The running time at various points between the start and finish of a race.
Full brother/sister Horses that have the same sire and dam.
Furlong One-eighth of a mile, 220 yards, 660 feet. Eight furlongs equal one mile. Originally a “furrow long” or the length of a plowed field.
Futurity A race for 2-year-olds for which they are entered while still foals.
Gelding A male horse that has been neutered (gelded) by having both testicles removed.
Half brother/sister Horses out of the same dam but by different sires. Horses with the same sire and different dams are not half siblings.
Halter A piece of equipment placed on a horse’s head similar to a bridle but lacking a bit and reins. A long leather shank is attached to the halter for walking the horse. Also an expression used for claiming a horse deriving from the fact that when the representative of the new owner takes the horse he must have with him his own halter. A trainer who frequently claims horses is called a halter man.
Hand A unit of four inches by which a horse’s height is measured, placing one hand above the other from the ground to the withers or the point where the saddle sits. A horse that measures 16 hands is 5 feet 4 inches tall at the withers.
Handicap race A race in which the racing secretary assigns weights based on his evaluation of each horse’s potential. In theory, these weights put all contestants on an equal basis. Some of the major stakes races are run under handicap conditions.
Handicapper One who assigns the weights to be carried in a handicap race. Also one who makes selections in a race based on a thorough study of the past performance of each horse.
Handily A horse working or racing with ease and without urging is said to be going “handily.”
Handle The aggregate amount of money wagered on a race, a day, a meeting or a season.
Homestretch The straightaway leading to the finish.
Hot walker A stable hand who leads a horse around the shedrow or walking ring in the “cooling out” process following a race or a workout. Walking hots is usually the first job given to a novice stable employee.
In the money A horse finishing first, second or third is “in the money.”
Infield The area within the inner rail of a racetrack.
Inquiry An inquiry is a review of a race to determine if there has been an infraction of the rules. Officials will flash the inquiry light on the tote board on such occasions. If a jockey claims a rules infraction, it is called an objection.
Irons The stirrups are referred to as irons.
Juvenile A 2-year-old horse is called a “juvenile.”
Lead pad A piece of equipment under the saddle containing thin slabs of lead used to bring a rider’s weight up to that assigned to the horse.
Length A measurement approximating the length of a horse is one length. It is used to describe the distances between horses during a race and at the finish line.
Longshot A horse that wins a race but was not considered a favorite. Odds are high on a longshot, resulting in high-money payoffs to winning bettors.
Maiden A race for horses that have never won a race. Also used to describe a horse that has never won a race.
Minus pool Occurs when an outstanding horse is so heavily played that after the deduction of the state tax and commission, not enough money remains in the pool to pay off the legally prescribed minimum. The racetrack will make up the difference.
Morning line The approximate odds usually printed in the program and posted on the tote board prior to the betting. This is a forecast of how it is believed the betting will go in a particular race.
Odds-on Odds of less than even money ($1 to $1). A winner at a payoff of under $4.00 is “odds-on.”
OTB Abbreviation for off-track betting.
Overnight race A race in which entries close a relatively short time before the running, perhaps only 48 hours, as opposed to a stakes race for which nominations close weeks and sometimes months in advance.
Overnight A race for which entries close 72 hours (exclusive of Sundays) or less before the post time for the first race on the day the race is to be run. Also, the sheet available to horsemen in the racing secretary’s office that shows the entries for the following day.
Overweight Depending on conditions each horse carries an assigned weight. When the jockey cannot make the weight, overweight is allowed but not more than 5 pounds. The overweight is either posted on an information board or announced on the public address system prior to the race.
Paddock The area at the racetrack where the horses are saddled and viewed prior to a race. Also a fenced-off field on a farm.
Pari-mutuel A form of wagering originated in 1865 by Frenchman Pierre Oller. All the money bet is pooled and divided up among those who have winning tickets, minus taxes, takeout and other deductions.
Past performances A horse’s race record, earnings, bloodlines and various other data, presented in composite form.
Pinhook Buying a young horse with the intention of reselling it at a profit. A pinhooker is one who engages in this practice.
Place bet A wager on a horse to finish second or better.
Place To finish second in a race is to place.
Post parade Occurs before a race when horses leave the paddock and pass the stands on their way to the starting gate.
Post position A horse’s position in the starting gate from the inner rail outward. Is decided by a drawing at the close of entries prior to the race.
Post time Designated time for a race to start.
Post The starting point for a race.
Public trainer One who trains for more than one owner, usually on a per-diem basis.
Purse Technically, a race to which the owners do not contribute to the prize. There was a time when the prize money was contained in a purse and hung on a wire which crossed the finish line. The terms “taking down a purse” and “going under the wire” thus once had literal meanings.
Quarter Horse A versatile breed of horse so-named because of its speed at short distances. Sprint racing, which has its roots in Colonial America, today is most popular west of the Mississippi River.
Quarter pole On a one-mile track, the pole at the turn into the stretch a quarter of a mile before the finish.
Racing secretary The racetrack official who makes up the conditions for the races and assigns the weights for handicap races.
Ridgeling A colt with one or both testicles undescended.
Route A race of more than one and one-eighth miles is considered a route.
Saddle cloth A cloth that goes under the saddle to absorb sweat and usually has the horse’s program number on it and sometimes, in major races, its name.
Scale of weights An arbitrary set of weights to be carried by horses of a certain age at a certain time of year at a certain distance.
Scratch To scratch a horse is to withdraw him from a race. There is a deadline for scratches after which permission must be obtained from the stewards.
Set down A jockey who has been suspended has been “set down.”
Sex allowance In all races other than handicaps or where conditions state otherwise, fillies and mares are allowed to carry weight below the scale, usually 3 pounds for 2-year-old fillies and 5 pounds for fillies and mares 3-year-olds and older, prior to September 1, and 3 pounds thereafter.
Shadow roll A thick noseband of sheep’s wool attached to a horse’s bridle and used to prevent the horse from seeing shadows directly in front of him that might cause him to jump or shy away.
Short A horse that drops out of contention in the stretch or close to the finish is said to have been “short,” the inference being that with more work or preparation he might have lasted to the finish and perhaps have been the winner.
Show bet A wager on a horse to finish third or better.
Show The third-place finisher in a race is said to show.
Silks See colors. The jacket and cap worn by a jockey.
Sire The male parent of a foal.
Sophomore A 3-year-old horse is referred to as a sophomore.
Stakes horse A horse whose level of competition includes mostly stakes races.
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. Some stakes races are by invitation and require no payment or fee.
Stakes-placed A horse who has finished second or third in a stakes race.
Stallion season The right to breed one mare to a particular stallion during one breeding season.
Stallion share A lifetime breeding right to a stallion, one mare each season per share.
Starting gate A partitioned mechanical device with stalls in which the horses are briefly confined until the starter releases the doors on the stalls to begin the race.
Stayer A horse that can run well at longer distances.
Stewards Officials at a racetrack who are responsible for enforcing the rules of racing.
Stick A jockey’s whip.
Stud A stallion used for breeding. Also a breeding farm.
Tack The saddle and other equipment worn by a horse during racing or exercise.
Tattoo An indelible mark on the inside of the upper lip of the horse used for identification purposes.
Tote board Display board in the infield of a racetrack that electronically posts data essential to the racing fan and bettor, including approximate odds, total amount bet in each pool (on some boards), track condition, post time, time of day, result of race, official sign or inquiry or objection sign if a foul is claimed, running time and payoff prices after the race is declared official.
Totalisator Board An intricate piece of electronic equipment which records each wager in each betting pool as the pari-mutuel ticket is sold by a manually operated vending machine. This equipment calculates the odds on each horse, according to the amount wagered at given intervals.
Track conditions Dirt tracks are listed as fast, good, muddy, sloppy and frozen. At Betfair Hollywood Park, the Cushion main track is always listed as fast. Turf courses are listed as hard, firm, soft, yielding and heavy.
Trifecta A wager that involves picking the first three finishers in a race in exact order. Called a “triactor” in Canada and a “triple” in some parts of the U.S.
Triple Crown Refers to the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.
Thoroughbred Breed of horse that races at Betfair Hollywood Park. Developed in England in the 17th century, Thoroughbreds are noted for their tremendous speed and athleticism while racing long distances.
Under wraps A horse running under restraint is “under wraps.”
Valet An employee who takes care of a jockey’s equipment, sees to it that the right silks are at his locker, that the rider has the proper weight in his lead pad, carries the saddle and equipment to the paddock and helps the trainer in saddling the horse, meets the rider after the race and carries saddle and equipment back to the jockey’s room.
Walkover A rare occurrence in which only one starter goes to the post and is required only to gallop the distance of the race to be declared the winner and collect the purse or a prescribed portion thereof depending on the rules in effect.
Washy A horse that breaks out into a heavy sweat prior to the race is said to be “washy.”
Weight for age A type of race in which horses carry scale weight or the weight assigned arbitrarily according to age, distance and month of year. (See Scale of weights.)
Work tab A list of morning workouts according to distance and time.