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Horseracing Dictionary

A

Age - Every horse shares a "birthday" of January first. A horse becomes one year old on the first of January after he or she is born, and turns two, one year later - regardless of the actual date of his or her birth.

Allowance Race - A race other than claiming for which the racing secretary drafts certain conditions to determine weights.

B

Blanket Finish - Or photo-finish in which two or more horses are very close at the finish line (one can "throw a blanket over them"). Very common in American Quarter Horse racing.

Break - When a horse gallops, instead of trotting or pacing, it's on a break. The driver must get the horse out of the way of the others, must not improve his position, and must attempt to get the horse back on its proper gait. A horse is not automatically disqualified by making a break.

Bullring - A racetrack with either a half-mile or 5/8ths mile oval.

C

Claiming Race - Race in which horses are entered subject to claim for a specified price.

Colt - A male horse, age three or under.

D

Daily Double - A type of wager calling for the selection of winners of two consecutive races, usually the first and second.

Dead Heat - A tie. Two or more horses finishing equal in a race.

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

Dividend - The amount that a winning or placed horse returns for every $1 that was bet.

Double Quinella - A wager type that requires the selection of the first two finishers, regardless of order, in each of the two specified contests. This wager type is also known as quinella double.

E

Entry - A horse entered in a race is called an entry. On rare occasions, two or more horses are said to be coupled and run as an entry, comprising a single wagering unit. A wager on one horse of an entry is a wager on both.

Exacta - A wager that picks the first two finishers in a race in the exact order of finish. Also referred to as Perfecta.

Exacta Box - A wager in which all possible combinations using a given number of horses are covered.

Exotic - Any wager other than win, place or show.

Exposure - The amount of money one actually stands to lose on a game or race.

Extended - Forced to run at top speed.

F

Filly - A female horse, age three or under.

First-Over - A horse racing on the outside without another horse directly in front of him or her. A foreshortening of the phrase first overland.

Foal - A newly-born horse. (Noun) The act of giving birth. (Verb)

Furlong - One-eighth of a mile or 220 yards. Races are measured in furlongs.

G

Gelding - A castrated animal.

Going - The condition of the racecourse (firm, heavy, soft, etc.). Official Jockey Club going reports progress as follows: Heavy - soft - good to soft - good - good to firm - firm.

Green Horse - A horse that has not raced, or has raced only a few times.

H

Handicap - A race for which a handicapper assigns weights to be carried. Also, to handicap a race, to make selections on the basis of the past performances.

Hand - Four inches. A horse's height is measured in hands and inches from the top of the shoulder (withers) to the ground, e.g., 15.2 hands is 15 hands, 2 inches. Thoroughbreds typically range from 15 to 17 hands.

Horse - A male horse, age four and up.

I

Inquiry - Reviewing the race to check into a possible infraction of the rules. Also, a sign flashed by officials on the tote board on such occasions. If lodged by a jockey, it is called an objection.

In the Money - Describes the horses in a race that finish 1st, 2nd and 3rd (and sometimes 4th) or the horses on which money will be paid to bettors, depending on the place terms.

J

Judge - The official who declares the placing for each race.

Juvenile - A two-year-old horse.

L

Length - A measurement approximating the length of a horse from nose to tail, about 8 feet, used to denote distance between horses in a race.

Long Odds - Odds which are greater than 10:1.

M

Maiden - A horse (male or female) who has never won a racing purse.

Mare - A female horse, age four and up.

Matinee - A program of racing conducted during the daylight hours.

Morning Line - Approximate odds printed in the program and posted before wagering begins. This is a forecast of how the morning line maker believes wagering will occur in a particular race.

N

Neck - Unit of measurement about the length of a horse's neck.

Nose - Smallest advantage a horse can win by.

O

Objection - Claim of foul lodged by rider, patrol judge, or other official after the running of a race. If lodged by an official, it is called an inquiry.

Odds - The sportsbook's or bookmaker's view of the chance of a competitor winning (adjusted to include a profit). The figure or fraction by which a bookmaker or totalisator offers to multiply a bettor's stake, which the bettor is entitled to receive (plus his or her own stake) if their selection wins.

Odds Against - A term to describe that the odds are greater than evens (e.g. 5 to 2), when the bookmaker's or totalisator's stake is greater than the bettor's stake. For example, a horse that is quoted at 4:1 would be odds against, because if it wins a race, the bookmaker or totalisator returns $4 for every dollar a bettor places on that horse, plus his or her original outlay.

Odds Compiler - See Oddsmaker.

Oddsmaker - A person who sets the betting odds. Note that sportsbooks or bookies don't set the odds. Most major sportsbooks use odds set by Las Vegas oddsmakers.

Odds-on - Odds of less than even money. This is a bet where you have to outlay more than you win. For example if a horse is two to one odds-on, you have to outlay two dollars to win one dollar and if the horse wins you collect a total of three dollars (the two dollars you bet and the one dollar you won).

Official - The sign displayed when result is confirmed. Also a racing official.

Off-Track Betting - Wagering at legalized betting outlets.

On the Board - Finishing among the first three.

On the Nose - Betting a horse to win only.

Outlay - The money a bettor wagers is called his or her outlay.

Out of the Money - A horse that finishes worse than third.

Outsider - A horse that is not expected to win. An outsider is usually quoted at the highest odds.

Overbroke - Where the book results in a loss for the bookmaker.

Overlay - A horse going off at higher odds than it appears to warrant, based on its past performances.

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.

Over the Top - When a horse is considered to have reached its peak for that season.

Overweight - Surplus weight carried by a horse when the rider cannot make the assigned weight.

P

Parked-out - A horse racing on the outside with at least one horse between him and the inside rail or barrier.

Post position - A horse's position in the starting gate, numbered from the inner rail outward.

Purse - The amount of prize money distributed to the owners of the first five or six finishers in a race (varies by state).

Q

Qualifying Race - A race without a purse or betting used to determine a horse's ability and manners. Horses that have made repeated breaks in stride or have been away from the races for a long period of time must race in a qualifying race before being allowed to race in a betting race.

Quinella Double - A wager type that requires the selection of the first two finishers, regardless of order, in each of the two specified contests. This wager type is also known as double quinella.

R

Register of Merit - A Register of Merit is designed to establish a record of outstanding performance. There are three Registers of Merit- one for racing, one for halter and one for performance events- but not a separate Register of Merit for each performance event. A horse has received at least one official speed index rating of 80 or higher in racing. Qualified horses registered with the Jockey Club of New York City will be listed and treated as racing Register of Merit qualifiers for all purposes, except that they shall not receive a certificate of Register of Merit or year-end awards. Until 1956, a Grade A was a 75 or better speed index. From 1957 to 1975 Grade AA was an 85 or better. From 1976 to 1985 a Register of Merit could be earned by an 80 or better speed index, or by earning 10 racing points. From 1986 to present a Register of Merit could only be earned by a speed index of 80 or better.

S

Schooling Race - A non-pari-mutuel preparatory race, which conforms to requirements adopted by the state racing commission.

Scratch - A horse who is withdrawn before the race starts.

Sire - The male parent of a horse.

Speed Index - An evaluation of a horse's time in a race versus the three fastest winning times for the same distance for the previous year at the same racetrack.

Sprint - A race that is run over five-sixteenths of a mile, or a shorter distance.

Stakes Race - A race for a championship or for a purse larger than those offered for ordinary feature races.

Standardbred - The breed of horse used in harness racing, consisting of trotters and pacers. The term originates from the standard set in 1879 by the National Association of Trotting Horse Breeders in America, whereby a horse had to trot a distance of one mile in not more than 2 minutes 30 seconds to qualify for registration in the new breed.

T

Tongue Strap - Strap or tape bandage used to tie down a horse's tongue to prevent choking in a race or workout.

Totalisator - The automated system of betting on races that dispenses and records betting tickets, calculates and displays odds and payoffs, and provides a mechanism for cashing winning tickets, in which the winning bettors share the total amount bet, minus a percentage for the operators of the system, taxes etc. Synonyms include Tote and Pari-mutuel.

Tote Board - The (usually) electronic totalizator display in the infield which reflects up-to-the-minute odds. It may also show the amounts wagered in each mutuel pool, as well as information such as jockey and equipment changes. Also referred to as the Board.

Tote Returns - Returns from a tote pool (also referred to 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. A dividend is declared to a fixed stake, for various win, place and forecast pools.

Trial - A race in which eligible contestants compete to determine the finalists in a nomination race.

Trainer - The person responsible for keeping a race contestant in top racing condition. In Harness racing the trainer is often the driver.

U

Unbackable - A horse which is quoted at short odds that punters decide is too short to return any reasonable amount for the money they outlay.

Underlay - A horse racing at shorter odds than seems warranted by its past performances.

Under Starters Orders - The starting of a race (also referred to as Under Orders).

Under Wraps - A horse under stout restraint in a race or workout.

V

Value - Getting the best odds on a wager.

W

Wager - Another term for a bet.

Walkover - A race in which only one horse competes.

Warming Up - Galloping a horse on the way to post.

Weigh In/Out - The certification, by the clerk of scales, of a rider's weight before/after a race. A jockey weighs in fully dressed with all equipment except for his/her helmet, whip and (in many jurisdictions) flak jacket.

Weight-For-Age - A practice that allows horses of different age and sex to compete on equal terms. The weight a horse carries is allocated on a set scale according to its sex and age.

Wire - The finish line for a race.

Y

Yearling - A horse in its second calendar year of life, beginning January 1st of the year following its birth.

Yielding - Condition of a turf course with a great deal of moisture. Horses sink into it noticeably.


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