Horse Racing Glossary – Horse Racing Terms and Definitions

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Written By DonaldMoon

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Across the board – a bet on a horse to win, place, and show. The minimum bet is $6 because three wagers ($2 to win, $2 to place, $2 to show) are being placed. If the horse wins, the bettor receives win, place, and show payouts. If the horse finishes second, the bettor receives place and show payouts, and if the horse finishes third, the bettor receives the show payout.

Allowance Race- an event other than claiming for which the racing secretary drafts certain conditions.

Allowances- weights and other conditions of a race.

Also-eligible – a horse officially entered but not permitted to start unless the field is reduced by scratches below a specified number.

Apprentice Allowance – weight concession to an apprentice rider. This varies among states from five to ten pounds. Slang term is “bug.” Indicated by an asterisk next to the jockey’s name in the program.

Baby race – a race for two-year-olds.

Backside – a racetrack’s barn or stable area.

Backstretch – the straight part of the track on the far side between turns; slang term to describe the barn or stable area.

Bandage – strips of cloth wound around the lower part of horses’ legs for support or protection against injury.

Bar shoe – a horseshoe closed at the back to help support the frog and heel of the hoof. Often worn by horses with quarter cracks or bruised feet.

Bay – a horse’s coat color ranging from tan to auburn. The mane and tail are always black as are the lower portion of the legs (black points), except for any white markings.

Beyer Speed Figure – a handicapping tool, developed by sports writer Andy Beyer of the Washington Post, assigning a numerical value to each race run by a horse based on final time and track condition.

Bleeder – a horse that bleeds from the lungs after or during a work-out or race.

Blinkers – device to limit a horse’s vision to prevent him from swerving from objects, others horses, etc.’ on either side of him.

Board – the “tote” or totalizator board, which displays odds, betting pools, and others race information.

Bottom Line – the lower half of a pedigree diagram, indicating the female side of a horse’s bloodlines.

Bounce – a poor performance followed by an exceptionally good one.

Box – a wagering term denoting a bet in which all possible numeric combinations are covered.

Breakage – at pari-mutuel betting tracks, the rounding off to a nickel or dime, as required by state laws, in paying off wining tickets. The breakage is usually split between the track and the state in varying proportions.

Bug Boy – an apprentice jockey.

Bullet – fastest workout of the day at a particular distance.A bullet (*) precedes the work time in listings.

Butazolidin (Bute) – the trade name for phenylbutazone, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.

Chalk – the wagering favorite in a race. The term dates from the days when on-track bookmakers would write odds on a chalkboard.

Chestnut – a horse’s coat color ranging from golden to red to chocolate (liver chestnut). Mane and tail are usually the same shade as the body; also, a small, horny growth on the inside of a horse’ legs, just above the knee on the forelegs and below the hocks on the hind legs.

Claiming Race – an event in which each horse entered is eligible to be purchased at a set price.

Clerk of Scales – a racing official whose chief duty is to weigh the riders before and after a race to ensue proper weight is being carried.

Clocker – a person on duty during morning training hours to identify the horses during the workouts, time them, and report to the public their training activities. Some clockers work for the racetrack; others are employed by Equibase.

Clubhouse Turn – the first turn past the finish line, where the clubhouse is usually located.

Colors – a horse owner’s racing silks, jacket, and cap, worn by jockeys to denote the horse’s ownership. All colors are different, and many are registered with The Jockey Club.

Colt – A male Thoroughbred horse (other than gelding or ridgeling) that has not reached his fifth birth date or has not been bred.

Commingle – combining mutuel pools from off-track sites with the host track.

Condition Book – a series of booklets issued by a racing secretary that lists the races to be run at a particular racetrack.

Conformation – the physical appearance or qualities of a horse.

Controlled Medication – a term widely used to mean that some drugs, primarily phenylbutazone and furosemide (see Lasix), are permissible under controlled circumstances that allow veterinary administration of predetermined dosages at predetermined intervals prior to race time.

Coupled – tow or more horses running as a single betting unit. Also known as an entry.

Daily Double – a type of wager calling for the selection of the winners of two consecutive races, usually the first and second on the race card but can be any two consecutive races.

Dam – the female parent of a horse.

Dark bay or brown – a horse’s coat color that ranges from brown with areas of tan on the shoulders, head, and flanks, to a dark brown, with tan areas only in the flanks and/or muzzle (nose). The mane, tail and lower legs are black.

Dead Heat – tow or more horses finishing on even terms.

Declared – a horse withdrawn from a stakes race in advance of the scratch time on the day of the race.

Derby – a stakes race for three-year-olds.

Distaff – a race for female horses.

Dogs – barriers placed on a track away from the inside rail to indicate that the inside strip of the track is not to be used during morning workouts to preserve the surface. Workouts around theses barriers are noted, and the times are correspondingly slower due to the longer distance added on the turns.

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