Fast  – Ideal track conditions with dry even footing.

Good  – A track slightly slower than fast with some moisture in it.

Muddy – A racetrack that has been soaked due to heavy rain. Footing can be deep and slow.

Sloppy  – A wet track with standing water on it, but the base of the track is still firm.

Heavy Track – A running surface drier than muddy, although often slower.

Off Track – A track that is less than fast, usually due to the elements.


Firm  – Equivalent to a fast track, ideal grass course conditions.

Good  – Grass course with a slight give.

Yielding –  A soft turf condition due to considerable moisture in the course.

Soft  – A rain-soaked grass course containing moisture resulting in slow footing.

Types of races

Graded races – The most prestigious races. They are classified as Grade I, Grade II or Grade III. One being the most important.

Handicap race  – (thoroughbred) A race in which the racing secretary assigns various weights to horses in an attempt to equalize their chances in the race. The best horse in the race carries the most weight.

Handicap race  – (harness) A race in which the racing secretary assigns post position in an attempt to equalize their chances in the race.  The best horse in the race carries the higher post position.

Allowance Race – Conditions of eligibility similar to claiming races but horses are not eligible to be claimed.  There are different classes of allowance races.

Claiming race  – A type of race where a horse is assigned at a class level that is roughly equal to its value. These races are divided into price categories for which horses can be claimed (purchased) out of a race.

Maiden race – A race exclusively for horses that have never won a race.

Maiden Special Weight – Maiden races for horses not eligible to be claimed.

Maiden claiming  – A claiming race for maidens who have never won a race.

Racing Glossary

Across the Board – To bet a horse to win, place and show.

Also Eligible – Horses that are eligible to run only if there are scratches in the race.

Apprentice – Also referred to as a bug boy. An apprentice is a jockey who is just getting started in the sport. The apprentice is allowed to carry less weight that a veteran rider. An apprentice is called a bug because the program will have an asterisk next to the weight that the jockey carries.

Backstretch -Straight portion of far side of the track between the turns.

Bandage – Cloth wrapped around a horse’s front or rear legs for support and to protect the horse’s legs against injury.

Bearing in/ out – A horse that is not running a straight course for any reason, possibly interfering with other horses.

Bit -Metal mouth piece to which the reins are attached.

Bleeder – A horse that bleeds internally or through the nostrils after exertion.

Blinkers – Device that hinders a horse from seeing things on either side to limit peripheral vision.

Breezing – Working a horse at a moderate speed, less effort than handily.

Break – A harness racing term for a horse that has gone off-stride.

Breakage – The odd pennies that the track keeps from the pay-out.

Bug – A weight allowance for an apprentice jockey in his/her first year riding races. Bug riders are entitled to carry less weight than more experienced jockeys.

Bug Boy – An apprentice who gets a weight allowance for his inexperience.

Bullet work – The best time for each distance on the workout line for a given day, designated by a black dot in the program.

Bute – (Butazolidin) – Trade name for phenylbutazone, an analgesic permitted for use on horses.

Chalk – Betting favorite of a race.

Change Leads – Changing from leading with the right leg to the left leg going around a turn.

Claiming horse – A horse that is eligible to be bought out of a race.

Class – A means of categorizing horses to denote one horse is superior to another.

Closer A horse that rallies from off the pace and comes from behind in a race.

Colt – Unaltered male horse under five-years old.

Coupled entry Two or more horses in a race running as a single betting entry (usually due to common ownership or trainer).

Dam – Mother of a horse.

Dead Heat – Two or more horses finishing a race in an exact tie.

Derby – Stakes races for 3-year olds.

Disqualification – A horse is removed from the place he finished and placed lower due to an infraction of the rules.

Driver – The equivalent of a jockey for harness horses.

Driving – Strong urging by rider in stretch.

Drop Down – A horse is running for a lower classification than in his previous races.

Eased – A horse that stops running before the finish of the race, due to less urging by the jockey.

Entry – Two or more horses that have the same owner or trainer and coupled for a single betting interest.

Even money – Odds of 1-1 where the profit from a winning bet is equal to the amount of the bet.

Exacta – A wager in which the first two finishers in a race must finish first and second in exact order.

Favorite – The horse in the race with the most amount of dollars in the win pool.  Prior to wagering the morning line indicates the horse with the best chance of winning.

Field – Two or more horses that are grouped together as one wagering interest, when there are more horses entered than positions on the tote board.

Filly – Female horse four years of age or younger.

Foal – A new born horse.

Fractional Time – Intermediate time recorded in a race at the quarter, half mile, etc.

Front-runner – A horse who takes the lead early in a race.

Furlong – One eighth of a mile, 220 yards; 660 feet.

Furosemide – Also known as Lasix.  A diuretic medication that is used to treat horses that bleed. Gelding – Castrated male horse.

Handle – The amount of money wagered into a betting pool.

Handily – An easy victory achieved without hard urging.

Harness race – A race for Standardbred horses where the horses are steered by a driver riding on a sulky behind the horse. Harness horses are restricted to trotting and pacing gaits

Horse – A male horse five years or older.

Impost – The weight carried by a horse.

In the Money – Finishing first, second or third.

Inquiry – A review of the race by the judges to check for a infraction of the rules that could lead to a horses disqualification.

Juvenile – A horse that is 2-years old.

Lasix – A medication know as furosemide legally administered to a horse, used to aid breathing, increase blood flow, and prevent respiratory bleeding

Length – Approximately eight to nine feet. The measurement used to gauge how much one horse is in front of another.

Longshot – A horse who is running in a race at high odds, and thought by many to have less chance to win.

Maiden – A horse who has not won a race.  

Mare – A female horse 5-years or older.

Morning line – A projection, before actual wagering takes place, on how the public will bet.

Mudder- A horse that likes an “off” track (a track that is wet).

Objection – A foul claim by a jockey that results in a review of the race by the judges.

Odds-on – A horse that is a strong favorite that offers less than even money odds, i.e. 4-5.

Outrider – Mounted rider who escorts horses to the post.

OverlayA horse going off at a higher price thatn he appears based on his past performances; a horse whose odds are greater than the morning line.

Pace – Relative rate of speed early in the race, especially by the leader.

Paddock – Area where the horses are prepared and equipped for entry onto the track

Post position – The numbered position a horse will start the race from.

Photo finish – A race result that is close enough to require the use of a finish line camera to determine the order of finish.

Place – A horse finishing second.

Post Parade – Horses heading to the starting gate.

Post time – Designated start time of the race.

Purse – Prize money is distributed to the owners of the successful finishers of a race.

Ridden out – Mild encouragement by rider in the stretch.

Route – A race run at a distance or a mile or more.

Scratch – A horse that has been withdrawn from a race.

Shadow Roll – A noseband that is placed on the horse so that he won’t see distractions on the ground.

Sire – Father of a horse.

Sixteenth – One sixteenth of a mile; 110 yards; ½ furlong

Splits – Fractional times of a race, usually posted every quarter mile.

Stewards – Racing officials who enforce the rules.

Taken Down – A horse that has been disqualified and placed lower in the order of finish due to an infraction.

Tote Board – A computerized display that indicates the money wagered and the resulting odds, payouts and other details.

Trifecta – A wager in which you must have the top three horses in the exact order of finish in order to win.

Show – A horse finishing third in a race.

Sprint  – A race run at a distance less than a mile.

Stalker – A horse who races slightly behind the front-runners, but not far from the lead.

Steeplechase  – A race where horses must negotiate jumps.

Sulky  – The buggy pulled by a harness horse where the driver sits.

Superfecta – A wager in which the first four runners in a race must finish first, second, third or fourth.

Take out – The percentage retained from betting pool at the track and distributed according to state law.

Underlay – A horse whose odds are less than you think they should be.   A horse whose odds are les than the morning line.

Valet – A person who takes care of the jockey’s equipment.

Wheel / part-wheel – Selecting or “keying” a specific horse to finish first, second or third (in trifectas), and then wheel it with all of the other horses in the race (wheel), or certain other horses in the race (part-wheel). The cost of the wager is determined by how many combinations are involved in the bet.

Workout  – Timed early morning training drills in preparation for a race.

Yearling – A horse’s age between New Year’s Day after being foaled and the following January 1.

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