Glossary of North American horse racing

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Glossary of North American horse racing:[1]

Additional glossaries at:


Advanced Deposit Wagering
Advanced Deposit Wagering (ADW) is a form of horse race gambling in which the bettor must fund his or her account before being allowed to place bets. ADW is often conducted online or by phone.[2]
Allowance race
A race for which entries are restricted to horses meeting certain earnings or other race criteria.[3] The track operator's designated official (usually the Racing Secretary) establishes specific conditions that determine what weights are to be carried by any competing horse based on factors from the horse's previous performances including races won and/or earnings.[4]
Reductions in weights to be carried, allowed because of the conditions of the race or because an apprentice jockey is on a horse. Also, a weight reduction female horses are entitled to when racing against males, or that three-year-olds receive against older horses.[4]
Allowance optional claiming
See Optional claiming
Also eligible
A horse officially entered in a race, but not allowed to start unless the field drops below a specified number due to other horses being scratched.[5]
A young jockey, sometimes called a "bug," who is still in training. An apprentice is required to ride a certain number of winners in a specified period of time before completing his or her apprenticeship.[6]


Also sometimes called the backstretch (see "backstretch", below), an area with restricted access, usually behind the track, where the stables and residential living areas for staff are located.[7]
The straightway on the farther side of an elliptical or oval racecourse. It typically runs parallel to the grandstand and the homestretch where the finish line is located.[8] Also refers to the stabling area adjacent to the racetrack (see "backside", above).[5]
Bearing In (or out)
Deviating from a straight course. May be due to weariness, infirmity, reaction to being whipped or the rider's inability to control the horse.[5]
Black type
In a sales catalogue, Black type is boldface print and indicates a stakes winner if the name is in all caps, or a stakes-placed runner if in upper and lower mixed case letters.[9]
Blanket finish
A finish "so close that a blanket would cover all the contestants involved."[10]
When a horse bleeds from the nostrils either during the running of a race, or when returning to be unsaddled. May explain a poor effort[4] See also Furosemide (Lasix).
A cup-shaped device to limit a horse's vision to prevent him from swerving from objects or other horses on either side of it. Blinker cups come in a variety of sizes and shapes to allow as little or as much vision as the trainer feels is necessary.[4]
Bloodstock agent
People who specialize in buying and selling horses on behalf of clients and offer advice on purchasing horses.[11]
Blue hen
A mare who produces many high quality offspring who also have a significant impact on the breed.[9]
1) The group of mares being bred to a stallion in a given year. If a stallion attracts the maximum number of mares allowed by the farm manager, he has a full book. 2) A term used to describe a jockey's riding commitments with his agent: An agent handles a jockey's book.[4]
A poor race run directly following a career-best or near-best performance.[4]
Break or broke
To leave the starting gate in the initial strides of a race.[12]
Break maiden
Horse winning for the first time in its career.[5]
Restraining or easing off on a horse for a short distance in a race to permit him to conserve or renew his strength.[5]
1. To win easily.[13] 2. A timed workout where the horse is not being asked for full speed; less effort than handily;[5] or can refer to a light training workout over a short distance that is used to gauge a horse's racing potential and performance.[14]
Broke down
A horse that has a serious leg problem during a race where he is limping or cannot put a limb on the ground, resulting in either being removed from the track in a horse ambulance or, in the worst cases, euthanized.[15]
Bullet or bullet work
The best workout time for a particular distance on a given day at a track, indicated by a printer's "bullet" that precedes the time of the workout in listings. Called a "black-letter" work in some parts of the country.[4]
Butazolidin or bute
See Phenylbutazone, below.


A statistical "picture" of a race (from which past performances are compiled), which shows the position and margin of each horse at designated points, age, weight carried, owner, trainer, purse, conditions, pay-off prices, odds, time and other data.[5]
An extension to a straightaway on either the homestretch or the backstretch used for establishing a distance to eliminate the need to begin the race on a turn.[4]
Circled field
Used when a horse is forced to go widest to reach contention, applicable when a horse must pass four or more rivals.[4]
Claiming race
Race in which any competing horse is subject to be purchased for a preset price. A claim is made before the race and can only be acted upon by a licensed owner or their agent.[4] The price is set by the conditions of the race. If the horse wins prize money during the race, the money goes to the previous owner.[16]
A horse that performs best during the latter part of the race, usually coming from behind against most of its race competitors.[4]
Clubhouse turn
The turn to the right of the grandstand, so called because the Clubhouse is usually to the right of the general stands[17]
Conditions are "the eligibility requirements of a horse running in a race, such as age, sex, number of wins, and amount of money won."[18]
The owner and trainer of a horse. The term can also be extended to other members of a racing team or partnership.[4]


Dead heat
Term to denote a tie at the finish of the race between two or more horses.[4] A tie with three horses is very rare.[19]
A stakes race for three-year-olds.[4] As of 2016, there are over 20 Derbies in the United States, often named for the racetrack or the state in which the race is run.[20]
Did not finish (DNF)
A horse that did not finish the race, for any of a number of reasons


Horses going past the eighth pole at Santa Anita Park
When a jockey deliberately slows down a horse during a race, often to prevent injury or harm to the horse.[5]
Eighth pole
A pole to signal that the finish line is one-eighth of a mile away.[5] Eighth poles are green and white striped[9]


Far turn
The turn off the backstretch into the homestretch.[17] So called because it is farthest from the finish line.
Fast pace
When the leading horses in a race set fractional times that are substantially faster than normal for the distance.[4]
A horse that has a preferred running style to run at or near the head of the field.[4] A horse who usually leads or tries to lead the field.[5] Compare: stalker, closer. See also Pacemaker, "rabbit"
A distance equal to 220 yards (18 mile or 200 m)[21]
Generic term for a medication for the treatment of bleeders. Most common trade name is Lasix.[5] Shown on past performance tables as an L.[22]
A race for two-year-old horses for which they have been entered while still a foal; the owners make payments over time to keep their horses eligible. Purses are usually large[4]


Graded stakes race
A classification system begun in 1973 to rank stakes races in North America, similar to the Group races of Europe. Classification noted with Roman numerals I, II, or III.


Half-brother, half-sister
Horses out of the same dam but by different sires. Horses with the same sire and different dams are not considered half-siblings in Thoroughbred racing.[4]
1. A race designed to create equality by the horses being assigned different, specific weights determined by the track handicapper based on an assessment of each entrant's potential.[23] 2. The process of selecting winners based on past performances.[4] 3. The amount of weight, sometimes called an impost, carried by the horse.
Working or racing with moderate effort, more than a breeze.[5]
Hand ride
When the jockey urges a horse just with his/her hands and does not use the whip.[5]
The amount wagered in the various pari-mutuel pools for either a specified race, program (ie, all races at a given track on a given day), meeting or year.[5]
Head of the stretch, top of the stretch
The beginning of the homestretch.[4]
Hit the board
To finish in the top four placings, literally, to appear on the tote board.[24]
Homestretch or stretch
The final straight section of the track leading to the finish.[4]


In the money
1. For a horse to finish in the top three placings, where bettors win money. 2. Less often, for the horse to finish in the top four, where the horses win prize money.[24]
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.[4]


Two-year-old horses.[4]


See Furosemide, above.
Used to describe the distance between horses during a race and at the finish line. One length is approximately 8 feet or 2.4 m and represents the length of one horse.[25]


Maiden race
Specific race for runners that have never won a race, usually by age, but not always.[5]
Minus pool
A mutuel pool caused when a horse is so heavily played that, after deductions of state tax and commission, there is not enough money left to pay the legally prescribed minimum on each winning bet. The racing association usually makes up the difference.[4]
Morning line
The approximate odds before wagering begins and exact odds are established.[5]


New shooter
A horse which skipped the Kentucky Derby to run in the Preakness Stakes[26] or Belmont Stakes.[27]
Nom de course
A name, usually a pseudonym, used by a racehorse owner under which their horse is registered to compete.[5]
The shortest margin of victory in a race.[5]


Stakes race for three-year-old fillies.[4]
Odds of less than even money ($1 to $1). A winning bet returns the amount wagered plus the ratio specified by the odds. A winner at a payoff of under $4.00 for a $2 bet is "odds on."[17]
Optional claiming
A race where a horse can either meet the conditions of the race or be entered for a claiming price.[28]
Out of the money
For a horse to finish worse than third, meaning that bettors do not win money.[24] Opposite of "in the money".


The finish post at Belmont Park
The speed of a race. To run a horse "off the pace" means that the horse will not be in the lead for the early part of the race but will advance to the front shortly before the finish of the race.[29]
A horse who goes to the front of the field to ensure a suitable pace, usually to set up the race for a stablemate who runs off the pace. Also called a Rabbit. In contrast, a Frontrunner is trying to win the race.[30]
A frontrunner. Compare: closer, stalker
Saddling and parading area where horses can be seen prior to the race.[4] See also paddock for agricultural uses.
Past performances
A horse's racing record, earnings, bloodlines and other data, presented in composite form.[4]
Generic term for a widely used analgesic medication in horses. Most common trade name is Butazolidin; often called "bute".[5] Shown on past performance tables as a B.[22]
Photo finish
A race result so close that the judges cannot decide the order of finish until they consult photographs taken of the race finish.[5]
Pinhook, pinhooking
Buying young race horses, usually yearlings, with an intent to resell later at a profit.[31]
Second position at finish. A place bet is a wager on a horse to finish first or second.[4]
Markers placed at specific distances around the track marking the distance from the finish line, named after the distance remaining, not the distance run, i.e. the quarter pole, eighth pole, sixteenth pole each measure the distance left in the race.[5] One-sixteenth poles are black and white striped. Eighth poles are green and white. Quarter poles are red and white.[9]
1. The starting point of a race 2. Post position (see below) 3. (verb) To reference or record a win.[4]
Post parade
When the horses in a race travel from the paddock to the starting gate ("post"), past the grandstands.[9]
Post position
The number of the individual stalls in the starting gate where horses will begin a race.[5] The first stall (#1 or inside position) is next to the rail at most racetracks with higher numbers on the outside of the track. Post position can be a hindrance or tactical advantage for horses depending on their racing style.[32]
Pull up
To pull back on the reins to slowly stop a horse. Jockeys will typically ease a horse to a stop after passing the finish line or if there is a problem with the horse, such as injury, that necessitates a withdrawal from a race.[33]


Quarter pole
A pole to signal that the finish line is one-quarter of a mile away.[5] Quarter poles are red and white striped.[9]


Generic left-handed racetrack diagram: A = finish line, B = grandstand, C/black = chute, Yellow = homestretch, Red = Clubhouse turn, Blue = backstretch, Green = Far turn, gray inside line = rail and the white center is the infield. Black dots note standard locations of the poles that measure distance to the finish.
A horse with speed entered to set a fast early pace to help the chances of a stablemate.[4] Also known as a Pacemaker
Female horse (mare) who has competed in sanctioned Thoroughbred races.[5]
Racetrack or racecourse
A flat surface made of dirt, grass (turf) or synthetic material, usually arranged in an oval, where races are conducted. Races can either be run in a counterclockwise (left-handed) or clockwise (right-handed) direction around the track. Left-handed, dirt tracks are the predominant form in the United States, mostly due to tradition.[34] Tracks typically consist of two turns, a backstretch, a straight (or homestretch) arranged around a central infield and various surrounding structures such as the finish line and stands for spectators.[34]
Inside fence on a racetrack.[5]
A horse that is fractious and hard for the jockey to handle.[35]
Rank outsider
A horse that is not expected to win a race.[36]
A deliberate action by the jockey to keep a horse "off the pace".[29]
Ridden out
When a horse works out or wins under a vigorous hand ride but is not whipped.[5]


To remove a horse from a race before it is run.[4]
Sealed track
Packing down a track surface when it rains so that the water drains off the surface.[37]
Third position at the finish. A Show Bet is a wager on a horse to finish in the money; third or better.[4]
The silk or nylon jacket and cap worn by a jockey to indicate the owner of the horse.[4] Each owner's unique colors are registered with the national and/or regional racing authority. The first use of registered colors occurred in 1762 at Newmarket Racecourse in England.[38]
Stakes race
A race where a fee must be paid to enter, which may include nominating, maintaining eligibility, entering and starting. The track usually adds more money to make up the total purse.[4]see also Graded stakes race
A horse whose running style is to stay just behind the leaders. Compare: Closer, front-runner, pacesetter.[39]
Steward or track steward
One or more racetrack officials responsible for enforcement of racing regulations.[4]
see homestretch, above.[4]


Top of the stretch
See Head of the Stretch
Track record/course record
The fastest time on a specific racetrack it has taken any Thoroughbred to complete a set race distance on a specific surface.[5] Many tracks have more than one surface (typically dirt and turf), so there are separate track records maintained for each course, also known as a course record.[40]


The races on the same day that precede a major or important race.[41]


Race with only one horse going to the post.[4] As a result, the sole starter needs only to gallop the distance of the race to be the official winner, but covering the distance is required by racing rules.[5]
Weight for Age
Race with a fixed amount of weight carried by horses based on their age, sex or other parameters such as time of year or distance of race.[5]
Winner's circle
The area next to a racetrack, usually enclosed, where the winning horse and jockey are brought for photographs and awards.[42]
Wire to wire
When a horse leads the race from start to finish.[43]


  1. ^ Hollywood Park - Beginners Corner glossary
  2. ^ "Report of Impact of Account Wagering Providers" (PDF). Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  3. ^ Price, et al. Lyons Press Horseman's Dictionary p. 6
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak Staff. "Industry Glossary". Equibase company. Retrieved 2013-08-27. 
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  6. ^ Hersh, Marcus (September 25, 2013). "Growing pains: The journey of an apprentice jockey". Daily Racing Form. Retrieved 20 May 2016. 
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  8. ^ Price (2003). Backstretch. p. 14. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f Staff. "Thoroughbred Terminology". Washington Thoroughbred Breeders Association. Retrieved 2013-08-27. 
  10. ^ Staff. "Blanket finish". Retrieved 12 June 2013. 
  11. ^ Nusser, Susan (2012). Kentucky Derby Dreams: The Making of Thoroughbred Champions. New York: Macmillan. p. 250. ISBN 9780312569907. 
  12. ^ Price (2003). Broke. p. 24. 
  13. ^ Ammer, Christine (2013). The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, Second Edition. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 57. ISBN 0547676581. 
  14. ^ Price (2003). Breeze. p. 26. 
  15. ^ "Guide to Race Comments". Retrieved 2014-01-10. 
  16. ^ Price, et al. Lyons Press Horseman's Dictionary p. 44
  17. ^ a b c "Racing Terms". Retrieved 2 July 2016. 
  18. ^ Eng, Richard. "Examining Different Levels of Competition at the Racetrack". Betting on Horse Racing for Dummies. 
  19. ^ "Triple dead heat took place at Aqueduct Racetrack in 1944". NY Daily News. Retrieved 18 June 2016. 
  20. ^ "Graded Stakes in the United States". Retrieved 19 June 2016. 
  21. ^ Boardman, Samuel Lane (1910). Handbook of the turf. New York: Orange Judd Co. p. 100. 
  22. ^ a b "Daily Racing Form: How To Use DRF - Past Performances". Retrieved 2 July 2016. 
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  27. ^ Carp, Steve (June 7, 2014). "Coburn's reaction simply sour grapes". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved June 11, 2014. 
  28. ^ "Race Classifications". Retrieved 23 January 2015. 
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  30. ^ McGrath, J A. "Pacemakers under scrutiny". Retrieved 19 June 2016. 
  31. ^ "pinhooking - definition of pinhooking in English | Oxford Dictionaries". Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved 9 April 2017. 
  32. ^ Durso, Joseph (May 3, 1991). "Horse racing: Fly So Free Gets Post 1; It's Not the Favorite Spot". New York Times. Retrieved July 4, 2013. 
  33. ^ Hammond, Gerald (2000). The Language of Horse Racing. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn. p. 166. ISBN 1579582761. 
  34. ^ a b Ashforth, David. "Why are all American racetracks left-handed? David Ashforth reveals how a long forgotten racetrack set the tone for racing in the US. (25 April 2010)". The Racing Post. Retrieved 13 June 2013. 
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  36. ^ Staff. "RanK Outsider". Cambridge Dictionaries Online. Retrieved 15 September 2013. 
  37. ^ Mitchell, Ron (May 21, 2016). "Soggy Start to Preakness Day". The Blood-Horse. Retrieved May 21, 2016. 
  38. ^ "Silks". Retrieved 2 July 2016. 
  39. ^
  40. ^ "Belmont Track Records". Retrieved 2 July 2016. 
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  43. ^ "Wire to Wire". Your Dictionary. Retrieved July 14, 2014. 


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