Racing Terms

Across-the-boardThis 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 raceA 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 ranA horse that does not finish among the top three.
Also-eligibleA 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 riderNew 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.
BackstretchMost commonly used as a reference to a track's stable area.
BandagesBandages or cloth wrappings on a horse’s legs. They do not necessarily indicate lameness or infirmity.
Black typeHorses 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.
BlinkersBlinkers 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 outA 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.
BounceThis term describes a poor or sub-par performance by a horse following a top effort.
Break maidenThis term describes a horse or rider who has won the first race of his career.
BreakageThe 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.
BreezeA breeze is working a horse at a moderate speed and involves less effort than a workout that is denoted handily.
Bridge JumperBettor who specializes in large show bets on odds-on favorites.
BroodmareA female horse that has been bred and is used to produce foals.
BugOr “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.
BulletA bullet work is the best workout time for a particular distance on a given day at a racetrack or training track.
Buy-backWhen 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 refers to the horse favored by the betting public.

Chalk player

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

ChuteA straightaway extension of either the homestretch or the backstretch used for distances that would otherwise necessitate starting on a turn.
Claiming raceAny 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.
ClassThe level a horse competes at.
Clubhouse turnThe turn to the right of the grandstand, so called because the Clubhouse is usually to the right of the general stands.
ColorsThe 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.
ColtA male horse under the age of five.
Condition bookA 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.
ConformationThe shape or proportionate dimensions of a horse; the physical makeup.
CoupledTwo 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.
CushionThe loose, top surface of the racetrack.
Daily DoubleYou win if you select the winners in two consecutive races before the first race of the sequence.  $2 minimum bet.
DamThe female parent of a foal.
Dead HeatWhen the photo-finish camera shows two horses inseparable at the finish, the race is declared a “dead heat” or tie.
DisqualificationWhen officials order a change in the order of finish in a race for an infraction of the rules, there is a disqualification.
DrivingRefers to a horse's placing in the starting stalls/post position.  Stall numbers are drawn at random.
DrivingWhen a horse is running under extreme pressure, he is said to be “driving.”
DweltA horse that is slow in breaking from the starting gate is said to have “dwelt.”
EasedA horse that is gently pulled up by its jockey during a race.
Eclipse AwardThe 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 PoleThe pole one-eighth of a mile before the finish line.
EntryTwo 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.
ExactaYou win if you select, in order, the first and second place finishers in the same race. $1 minimum bet.
Exercise RiderA rider who is licensed to exercise a horse during morning training sessions.
Far turnThe turn off the backstretch.
FarrierA blacksmith specializing in the shoeing, or plating, of horses.
FastA racetrack at its best condition is said to be fast.
FieldThis 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.
FillyA female horse under the age of five.
Fractional timeThe running time at various points between the start and finish of a race.
FurlongOne-eighth of a mile, 220 yards, 660 feet. Eight furlongs equal one mile. Originally a “furrow long” or the length of a plowed field.
FuturityA race for 2-year-olds for which they are entered while still foals.
GeldingA male horse that has been neutered (gelded) by having both testicles removed.
HalterA 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.
HandA 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 RaceA 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.
HandicapperOne 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.
HandilyA horse working or racing with ease and without urging is said to be going “handily.”
HandleThe aggregate amount of money wagered on a race, a day or a season.
HomestretchThe straightaway leading to the finish.
Hot walkerA 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 moneyA horse finishing first, second or third is “in the money.”
InfieldThe area within the inner rail of a racetrack.
InquiryAn 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.
IronsThe stirrups are referred to as irons.
JuvenileA 2-year-old horse is called a “juvenile.”
Lead padA 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.
LengthA 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.
LongshotA 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.
MaidenA race for horses that have never won a race. Also used to describe a horse that has never won a race.
MareFemale horse five years old or older.
Minus poolOccurs 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 lineThe 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.
ObjectionClaim 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-onOdds of less than even money ($1 to $1).
OTBAbbreviation 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 raceA 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.
OverweightDepending 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.
PaddockThe area at the racetrack where the horses are saddled and viewed prior to a race.  Also a fenced-off field on a farm.
Pari-mutuelA 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 performancesA horse's race record, earnings, bloodlines and various other data.
Photo FinishA photograph taken and consulted to determine the order of finish in a race that is too close to determine with the naked eye.
Pick 3You win if you select the winners in three consecutive designated races before the first race in the sequence.
Pick 4You win if you select the winners in four consecutive designated races before the first race in the sequence.
Pick 5You win if you select the winners in five consecutive designated races before the first race in the sequence.
PinhookBuying a young horse with the intention of reselling it at a profit.
Place To finish second.
Place betYou win if your horse finishes first or second.
Post paradeOccurs before a race when horses leave the paddock and pass the stands on their way to the starting gate.
Post positionA 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 timeDesignated start time for a race.
PostThe starting point for a races.
Public trainerOne who trains for more than one owner.
PurseTechnically, 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 HorseA versatile breed of horse so-named because of its speed at short distances.
Quarter poleOn a one-mile track, the post at thet urn into the stretch a quarter of a mile before the finish.
Racing secretaryThe racetrack official who makes up the conditions for the races and assigns the weights for handicap races.
Rail BirdA race fan who watches from the rail along the track.
RidgelingA colt with one of both testicle undescended.
ROIShort 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
RouteA race of more than one mile (or two turns at EmD) is considered a route.
Saddle ClothA 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.
ScratchTo withdraw a horse from a race.
Set DownA 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 allowanceIn 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 rollA 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 priceLow odds.
Show The third-place finisher in a race.
Show betYou win if your horse finishes first, second or third.
Shut outWhat happens to a bettor who gets on the betting line too late and is still waiting in line when the window closes.
SingleA Straight bet on one selection to win one race or event.
SilksThe jacket and cap worn by a jockey.
SireThe male parent of a foal.
SophomoreA 3-year-old horse is referred to as a sophomore.
SprintA race under one mile.
Stakes horseA horse whose level of competition includes mostly stakes races.
Stakes raceA 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-placedA horse who has finished second or third in a stakes race.
Stallion seasonThe right to breed one mare to a particular stallion during one breeding season.
Stallion shareA lifetime breeding right to a stallion, one mare each season per share.
StarterThe person responsible for starting a race.  Alternately, a horse running in a race.
Starting gateA 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.
StayerA horse that can run well at longer distances.
StewardsOfficials at a racetrack who are responsible for enforcing the rules of racing.
StickA jockey's whip.
StickersCaulks 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 runnerHorse that runs its fastest nearing the finish of a race.
StudA stallion used for breeding. Also a breeding farm.
SuperfectaYou 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 thingA horse which a punter or tipster believes is unbeatable in a race.
Switch leadsHorses naturally change their leading leg when they go into the turn and switch back in the stretch and finish the race.
TackThe saddle and other equipment worn by a horse during racing or exercise.
Taken upA horse pulled up sharply by its rider because of being in close quarters.
TattooAn indelible mark on the inside of the upper lip of the horse used for identification purposes.
TotalisatorAn 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 boardDisplay 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 returnReturns 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.
ToutPerson who professes to have, and sells, advance information on a race.
Track conditionsDirt tracks are listed as fast, wet fast, good, muddy and sloppy. Turf courses are listed as hard, firm, soft, yielding and heavy.
Track conditionsDirt tracks are listed as fast, wet fast, good, muddy and sloppy. Turf courses are listed as hard, firm, soft, yielding and heavy.
TrifectaYou win if you select, in order, the first, second and third place finishers in the same race. $1 minimum bet.
Triple CrownThe Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.
ThoroughbredDeveloped 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 wrapsA horse running under restraint is “under wraps.”
ValetAn 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.
WashyA horse that breaks out into a heavy sweat prior to the race is said to be “washy.”
WheelBetting all possible combinations in an exotic wager using at least one horse as the key.
Work tabA list of morning workouts according to distance and time.

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