Glossary of Racing Terms

Term

Definition

Allowance Race
Similar to a claiming race, except the horses are not for sale
Across the board
A win, place and show bet on a horse
Apprentice
A jockey who has ridden for less than a year and who receives weight allowances
 
Backside
The racetrack's barn area
Bay
A color ranging from tan to dark chestnut with black mane, tail and points
Beyer speed rating
A measure of performance popularized by Andy Beyer of The Washington Post
Blinkers
Devise to limit horse's vision to prevent it from shying from objects or other horses
Bolt
Suddenly veering from a straight course
Bounce
An exceptionally poor performance on the heels of an exceptionally good one
Break
Harness horse changing to a different gate than the one specified in the race in which they are competing
Breed
An equine group whose members have been selectively bred for consistent characteristics over a period of time and with pedigrees recorded in a stud book
Broodmare
Female horse used for breeding
Broodmare sire
A sire whose female offspring become producers of exceptional performers
Bullet
Fastest workout of the day at a particular distance
Bug
Apprentice Jockey who is allowed a reduced weight as they gain experience
 
Call to the post
A special call played on a Bugle used to signal the horses to the starting gate
Chalk
Horse favored in a race
Chestnut
Yellow-red, red-yellow to golden yellow horse with red main and tail
Claiming Race
A race in which any horse may be purchased at a predetermined price
Colt
Ungelded male horse under five years of age
Conformation
The shape of a horse
 
Dam
The mother of a horse
Dead Heat
To or more horses finishing in a tie at the wire
Derby
Stakes race for three year olds
Distaff
A race for female horses
Driver
A person driving a harness horse in a race
Driving
Strong urging by the rider
 
Early foot
Good speed at the start of a race
Entry
Two or more horses representing the same owner or trained by the same person and running together as a single betting entity
 
Fast Track
Track condition with footing at its best. Dry and even
Favorite
Horse having the most money wagered on it to win
Filly
Female horse under five years old
Foal
A horse under one year old
Furlong
A distance equal to 1/8th of a mile
 
Gait
Used to describe the manner in which a horse moves
Gallop
A fast gate in which all four feet are off the ground at once
Gelding
Castrated male horse
Groom
A person who cares for a horse in the stables
 
Hand
Unit of measurement to describe a horse's height, which is approximately 4 inches
Handicap
Race A race in which weights have been assigned by the racing secretary after evaluating entrant's past races
Handicapping
The art of evaluating a horse's past performance to determine the outcome of a race
Handily
The art of evaluating a horse's past performance to determine the outcome of a race
Handle
Money wagered
Hopples
A part of harness racing tack used to help the horse keep on it's proper gait
Horse
Ungelded male horse five years old or older
Hot Walk
Cooling out a horse by walking after a race or workout
 
Jockey
Rider of a horse in a thoroughbred race
Juvenile
A two year old horse
 
Lasix
Diuretic medication given to horses which bleed
Length
About eight feet, the length of a horse from nose to tail
Longshot
Entry not well regarded by bettors, resulting in the possibility of longer odds and higher payoffs
 
Maiden
A horse that hasn't won a flat racein any country
Maiden Race
A race for horses which have never won a race
Mare
Female horse five years old or older
Match Race
A race between just two horses
Morning Line
An estimate of the final race odds, as determined by the track's handicapper
Mudder
A horse which races well on an off track
Muddy Track
Track condition where there is substantial water in the track making footing less than ideal
 
Nose
Smallest winning margin at the finish
 
Off track
A track that is not fast
Official
Final results of a race have been confirmed by the stewards
OTB
Off Track Betting location where horses can be wagered via Simulcast (Satellite Wagering Facility / SWF)
Overlay
A horse whose odds are greater than itspotential to win
 
Pace
Relative speed of the leaders of a race at various stages during the race
Pacer
A harness racing gait in which the legs on one side of the horse move together
Paddock
Area where the horses are saddled and paraded before post time
Pari-mutuel
The form of wagering used at Colonial Downs whereby players wager against each other, not against the "house"
Parked Out
Term for a harness horse which is not able to race near the inside rail due to the position of other horses
Pedigree
The details of a horse's ancestry
Photo Finish
A finish between two or more horses which is so close a still photograph must be used to determine the order of finish
Pole Distance
Marks placed around the track, usually every 1/16th of a mile
Post Parade
When the horses leave the paddock and go toward the starting gate
Post Time
The designated time for a race to begin
Purse
The total prize money awarded in a race
 
Recall
When the first attempt at starting in a harness race is nullified by the official in charge of the start
Roan Horse
With a red and white hair mixture, Horse with white hairs mingledthroughout its coat
 
Scratch
 
Sealed Track
A sealed track is a dirt track that has been packed down. Dry tracks are sealed so that water runs off the track, reducing the amount of precipitation absorbed into the surface. Wet tracks are sealed to provide a safe and even racing surface
Silks
Jacket representing the owner of a horse which is worn by the jockey
Simulcast
Simultaneous broadcast of a race to betting facilities away from the live track
Sire
The male parent of a horse
Stakes
Race Highest class of race, reserved for the best horses
Stallion
Ungelded male horse used specifically for breeding
Standardbred
A breed of horse which participates in harness racing
Starting Gate
A mechanical device which allows each horse to begin a race at the same time
Steeplechase
A race over a course with artificial obstacles
Stewards
The highest level officials overseeing the races who work to maintain the integrity of the sport
Stick
A jockey's whip
Stretch
The straightaway portion of a race track
Stud
Stallion
Stud Book
A book kept to record the pedigrees of purebred horses.
Sulky
A two wheeled conveyance carrying the driver and pulled by a horse in harness racing
 
Tack
Equipment used for riding and driving a horse
Thoroughbred
A horse specifically bred for racing that can trace their lineage back to three original horses
Trainer
Person in charge of conditioning horses in preparation for races
Trotter
In harness racing, horses which move with a diagonal gait
Turf course
Grass covered race course
 
Underlay
Horse whose odds are more promising than his potential to win
 
Valet
A person who helps jockeys keep their wardrobe and equipment in order
 
Weight
The assigned weight for a horse, including the jockey, equipment and lead weights if needed
Workout
Exercise session at a predetermined distance
 
Yearling
A horse which is one year old