Racing Terms
3/16/2014

Across-the-board This is a bet on a horse to win, place and show.  If the horse wins, the bettor collects all three wagers; if it finishes second, the second and third place wagers; and third, the third (show) wager.
Added-Money    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 top 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 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 or her 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 Most commonly used as a reference to a track's stable area.
Bandages Bandages or cloth wrappings on a horse’s legs. They do not necessarily indicate lameness or infirmity.
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 Blinkers are a common piece of racing equipment. The eye cups on the blinkers can 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.
Bounce This term describes a poor or sub-par performance by a horse following a top effort.
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.
Bridge Jumper Bettor who specializes in large show bets on odds-on favorites.
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.
Chalk

Chalk refers to the horse favored by the betting public.

Chalk player

A bettor who prefers to bet on short-priced animals.

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.
Class The level a horse competes at.
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.
Colt A male horse under the age of five.
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.  Horses are not coupled at EmD.
Cushion The loose, top surface of the racetrack.
Daily Double You win if you select the winners in two consecutive races before the first race of the sequence.  $2 minimum bet.
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 Refers to a horse's placing in the starting stalls/post position.  Stall numbers are drawn at random.
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 20 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.  Horses are not run as entries at EmD.
Exacta You win if you select, in order, the first and second place finishers in the same race. $1 minimum bet.
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.
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. This often occurs in the Kentucky Derby.
Filly A femaile horse under the age of five.
Fractional time The running time at various points between the start and finish of a race.
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.
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.
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 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.  Also refers to mechanical devices found in the EmD stable area that automatically "cool out" several horses simultaneously.
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 by the Stewards 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.
Mare Female horse five years old or older.
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 printed in the program and posted on the tote board prior to  betting. This is a forecast of how it is believed the betting will go in a particular race.
Objection Claim of foul lodged by rider, trainer, patrol judge or other official after the running of the race.  If lodged by official, it is called an inquiry.
Odds-on Odds of less than even money ($1 to $1).
OTB Abbreviation for off-track betting.
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 and on the EmD website that shows the entries for the next race day(s).
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 in advance.
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 and announced 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, cloodlines and various other data.
Photo Finish A photograph taken and consulted to determine the order of finish in a race that is too close to determine with the naked eye.
Pick 3 You win if you select the winners in three consecutive designated races before the first race in the sequence.
Pick 4 You win if you select the winners in four consecutive designated races before the first race in the sequence.
Pick 5 You win if you select the winners in five consecutive designated races before the first race in the sequence.
Pinhook Buying a young horse with the intention of reselling it at a profit.
Place To finish second.
Place bet You win if your horse finishes first or second.
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, which is decided by a drawing at the close of entries prior to the race.
Post time Designated start time for a race.
Post The starting point for a races.
Public trainer One who trains for more than one owner.
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.
Quarter pole On a one-mile track, the post at thet urn 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.
Rail Bird A race fan who watches from the rail along the track.
Ridgeling A colt with one of both testicle undescended.
ROI Short for 'Return On Investment' in percentage (%). The ROI is useful for identifying unique stats about a runner, trainer or jockey. This is a very useful stat to know as it shows in percentage terms how much profit or loss has been made. The stat can be used to show good and bad conditions. A positive ROI is good and a negative ROI is bad. The formula: ROI% = total profit / total staked * 100. Example: if a series of 55 bets (all at $1 stake each) returned a profit of $7.50, then ROI% = $7.50 (total profit) divided by $55 (total staked) multiplied by 100 = 13.6% ROI
Route A race of more than one mile (or two turns at EmD) 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.
Scratch To withdraw a horse from a race.
Set Down A jockey who has been suspended has been "set down."  Alternately, set down also could infer a horse being asked for maximum effort in a race, as in "the horse is 'set down' for the drive."
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 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.
Short price Low odds.
Show The third-place finisher in a race.
Show bet You win if your horse finishes first, second or third.
Shut out What happens to a bettor who gets on the betting line too late and is still waiting in line when the window closes.
Single A Straight bet on one selection to win one race or event.
Silks The jacket and capworn by a jockey.
Sire The male parent of a foal.
Sophomore A 3-year-old horse is referred to as a sophomore.
Sprint A race under one mile.
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.
Starter The person responsible for starting a race.  Alternately, a horse running in a race.
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.
Stickers Caulks on shoes which give a horse better traction in mud or on soft tracks.  Similar to cleats worn by human athletes.
Stretch (home-stretch) Final straight portion of the racetrack to the finish.
Stretch runner Horse that runs its fastest nearing the finish of a race.
Stud A stallion used for breeding. Also a breeding farm.
Superfecta You win if you select, in order, the first, second, third and fourth place finishers in the same race. $.50 minimum bet at Emerald Downs.
Sure thing A horse which a punter or tipster believes is unbeatable in a race.
Switch leads Horses naturally change their leading leg when they go into the turn and switch back in the stretch and finish the race.
Tack The saddle and other equipment worn by a horse during racing or exercise.
Taken up A horse pulled up sharply by its rider because of being in close quarters.
Tattoo An indelible mark on the inside of the upper lip of the horse used for identification purposes.
Totalisator An intricate piece of electronic equipment which records each wager in each betting pool as each pari-mutuel ticket is sold. This equipment calculates the odds on each horse, according to the amount wagered at given intervals.
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, inquiry and/or objection sign if a foul is claimed, running time and payoff prices after the race is declared official.
Tote return Returns from a tote/mutuel pool (also known as a Dividend), calculated by taking the total stake in each pool (after the take out) and dividing it by the number of winning tickets.
Tout Person who professes to have, and sells, advance information on a race.
Track conditions Dirt tracks are listed as fast, wet fast, good, muddy and sloppy. Turf courses are listed as hard, firm, soft, yielding and heavy.
Track conditions Dirt tracks are listed as fast, wet fast, good, muddy and sloppy. Turf courses are listed as hard, firm, soft, yielding and heavy.
Trifecta You win if you select, in order, the first, second and third place finishers in the same race. $1 minimum bet.
Triple Crown The Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.
Thoroughbred Developed in England in the 17th century, Thoroughbreds are noted for their tremendous speed and athleticism while racing long distances.  This is the main breed racing at Emerald Downs (although, Quarter Horse racing was introduced at EmD in 2010).
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/her 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.
Washy A horse that breaks out into a heavy sweat prior to the race is said to be “washy.”
Wheel Betting all possible combinations in an exotic wager using at least one horse as the key.
Work tab A list of morning workouts according to distance and time.

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