Horse Racing Terms A to Z Definition Glossary

HORSE RACING TERMSIf you are reading this you are either brand new to horse racing or trying to better familiarize yourself with everything going on including horse racing terms. Either way, welcome and here at LHR we try to give you the information you need in order to navigate the mind field that is handicapping. The LHR Academy was created to help people that are new to horse racing or just want to learn more about how to wager, calculate winners, or just better understand what is going on at the track. In this addition we are going to talk the common terms in horse racing. Either you are new to horse racing or just heard a term that you just do not understand. Longshot Horse Racing is here to explain horse racing terms for you and your friends.


ACROSS THE BOARD- A bet on a horse to win, place and show. If the horse wins, the player collects three bets; if the horse finishes second, collects on two bets; and if the horse finishes third, collects on one bet.

ACTION- A horse’s manner of moving.

ADDED MONEY- Money added to the purse of a race above and beyond the amount paid by owners in nomination, eligibility, entry and starting fees.

AGENT- A person authorized to transact business of a stable owner or jockey. Can also be a person authorized to sell or buy horses for an owner or breeder.

ALL OUT- When a horse gives their all and extends himself to the utmost.

ALLOWANCE RACE- A race other than claiming for which the racing secretary drafts certain circumstances to determine weights (I.E. types of wins, state bred etc.).

ALLOWANCES- Weight permitted to be reduced because of the situations of the race or because an apprentice is on a horse. Also, a weight females are allowed to when racing against males.

ALSO-ELIGIBLE- A horse officially entered, but not allowed to start unless the field is reduced by scratches. Commonly listed as AE.

ALSO-RAN- A horse who finishes out of the money.

APPRENTICE- Rider who has not ridden a certain number of winners within a specified period of time. In certain races an apprentice will receive a weight allowance.

APPRENTICE ALLOWANCE- Weight concession to an apprentice rider: usually 10 pounds until the fifth winner, seven pounds up to the 35th, and five pounds per year from that point forward.

BABY RACE- A race for two-year-olds especially early in the season.

BACKSTRETCH- Straight part of the race track opposite the finishing line between the turns in the oval.

BACKSIDE- Stable area

BAD ACTOR- Irritable horse

BAD DOER- Horse with poor appetite.

BALD FACE- White face of horse, including eyes, nostrils or part of the latter also referred to as the Bald for short.

BANDAGE- Injury protection and support for the horse in the form of strips of cloth wound around the lower part of a horse’s legs

BAR SHOE- A horse shoe with a rear bar to protect an injured foot

BEARING (IN OR OUT)- Failing to maintain a straight course while the horse is running

BELL- Signal sounded when starter opens the gates

BIT- Bar in horse’s mouth used to guide and control the horse

BLACK TYPE- Label for a stakes-placed horse or stakes winner in sales catalogues

BRACE – Rubdown ointment used on a horse after a race or a workout.

BLANKET FINISH- When horses finish so close to each other you could hypothetically cover them with a blanket

BLAZE- White patch on face of a horse

BLEEDER- Horse who bleeds during or after a workout or race due to ruptured blood vessel

BLIND SWITCH- Being caught in a position behind or between horses that a free course cannot be tracked

BLINKERS- Worn on the bridle to limit a horse’s vision on the sides to help maintain attention and avoid distractions from surrounding horses or objects

BLISTER- Counter-irritant to ease pain or to treat an ailment.

BLOOD WORMS- Parasites that get into the blood stream.

BLOWOUT- A short and fast final workout, usually a couple of days before a race, designed to sharpen a horse’s speed

BOARD- Board where odds, betting pools, and other information are displayed. Also a Tote Board and normally in the infield of a track

BOBBLE- A bad step away from the starting gate causing the head to duck or a knee to touch

BOLT- Sudden deviation from a straight course

BOTTOM LINE- Breeding on female side, the bottom half of an extended pedigree diagram

BREAK (A HORSE)- Getting a young horse used to the rider and equipment

BREAKAGE- In pari-mutuel payoffs which are rounded out to a nickel or dime, those pennies that are left over

BREAKDOWN- When a horse suffered an injury

BREAK MAIDEN- Horse or rider winning for the first time

BREATHER- Easing off or restraining a horse for a period in a race in order to conserve strength

BREEDER- Owner of dam at time foal is dropped

BREEZE- Working a horse at a moderate speed under a hold without rider encouragement

BRIDGE-JUMPER- Someone who makes large show bets on short-priced favorites. The term is coined from what a person might do if they lose that bet

BROODMARE- Female Thoroughbred used for breeding

BROODMARE DAM- A mare that produces female progeny that are used for breeding

BROODMARE SIRE- A male horse that produces female progeny that are used for breeding

BUG- Name of apprentice allowance or Apprentice rider because the * in the form looks a lot like a bug

BULLET WORK- The best time for the distance on a given day at a given track

BULL RING- Small racetrack that is usually less than one mile and has tight turns

BUTE – Trade name for phenylbutazone, a commonly used analgesic for horses

BUY THE RACE- Using every single horse running in a specific race in an exotic wager

CALK- Cleat on the shoe of a horse to prevent slipping

CALL – Running position of horses in a race at various points

CALLER- One who calls the running positions of horses in a race

CARRYOVER- Usually refers to money in the pari-mutuel pool for a Pick 6 wager that is left over after a sequence fails to have a single player select all of the winners

CENTER OF DISTRIBUTION- Balance point of speed and stamina influences in a horse’s pedigree

CHART- A statistical picture of a race used to compile past performance data

CHECKED- A horse pulled up by his jockey for an instant because he is cut off or in tight quarters.

CHUTE- Extension of backstretch or homestretch to permit straightaway run from start in a horse race. Overall race distance can influence the use of the chute

CLAIMING- Buying a horse out of race for entered price. The claim must be made before the start of the race

CLAIMING BOX- Box in which claims are deposited before the race

CLAIMING RACE- Race in which horses are entered subject to claim for a specified price determined by the horses original connections

CLASSIC- Race of traditional importance

CLERK OF SCALES- A person with the job to weigh the riders before and after a race to be sure proper weight is carried

CLIMBING- A fault in a horse’s stride where his action is unusually high

CLOCKER- A person who times workouts and races

CLOSER- A horse who runs best in the latter part of the race coming from the back of the pack

CLUBHOUSE TURN- Generally the turn immediately after the finish line and closest to the clubhouse

COLORS- Racing silks-jacket and cap-worn by riders to denote the owner of horse

COLT- Male horse under 5 years old

COMPANY- Class of horses in a race or members of the field in that race

CONDITION- Training a horse

CONDITIONS- The situations under which a race will be run like purse or distance

CONDITION BOOK- Book issued by racing secretary which sets circumstances of the races to be run

CONDITION RACE- An event with conditions limiting it to a certain class of horse

CONFORMATION- A horse’s build and general physical structure

CONSOLATION- A payout for players without a full winning ticket (I.E. 5-of-6 races right in a Pick 6 wager)

CONTRACT RIDER- Jockey under contract to a specific stable

COOLING OUT- Restoring a horse to normal temperature after becoming overheated in a race or workout. This is usually done through walking the horse

COUPLED- Two or more horses running as an entry in a single betting unit (I.E. 1 and 1A)

CUP- Distance race of a mile and a half or more. Also reference to the trophy for winning the race

CUPPY- A surface which breaks away under a horse’s hoof.

CUSHION- Surface of track or a layer of the track.

DAILY DOUBLE- A wager in where the player attempts to pick the winner of two consecutive races with a single ticket

DAM- Mother of a Thoroughbred

DAMSIRE (BROODMARE SIRE)- The sire of a broodmare

DARK- A day when a track features no live racing. Simulcast racing might still be available

DEAD-HEAT- Two or more horses finishing in a tie crossing the finishing line

DEAD TRACK- Racing surface lacking resiliency

DECLARED- In U.S., a horse withdrawn from a stake in advance of scratch time. In Europe, a horse confirmed to start in a race

DIPLOMA (EARNING)- Winning for the first time

DISQUALIFICATION- Change of order of finish by officials for an infraction of the rules

DISTAFF (DISTAFF RACE)- Female. A race for fillies, mares, or both

DISTANCED- Finishing a distance far behind the winner

DOGS- Rubber traffic cones or other barriers placed a certain distance out from the inner rail, to prevent horses during workout period from agitating the footing along the rail.

DOSAGE DIAGRAM- A diagram showing the number and placement of chefs-de-race in a horse’s pedigree

DOSAGE INDEX- Mathematical reduction of the Dosage Diagram to a number reflecting a horse’s potential for stamina or speed

DQ- Disqualified.

DRIVING- Strong urging of the horse by the rider or jockey

DROPDOWN- A horse meeting a lower class of rival than he had been running against

EASED- A horse that is being intentionally slowed by the jockey to prevent injury or harm to the horse

EASILY- Running or winning without being pressed by rider or opposition

EIGHTH- A furlong also listed as 220 yards or 660 feet

ELIGIBLE- Qualified to start in a race, according to conditions

ENTRY- Two or more horses owned by the same stable or (in some cases) trained by the same trainer and thus running as a single betting unit

EVENLY- Neither gaining nor losing position or distance during a race

EXACTA (OR PERFECTA)- A bet where the first two finishers in a race, in exact order of finish, must be picked

EXCUSED- Withdrawal from a race (sometimes on a veterinarian’s recommendation) with consent of stewards

EXERCISE RIDER- Male or female rider who is aboard a horse in the mornings

EXTENDED- Forcing a horse to run at top speed

EXTRA WEIGHT (ADDED WEIGHT)- More weight than conditions of race require

FALTERED- Used for a horse that was in contention early and drops back in the late stages. It is more severe than weakened but less severe than stopped

FALSE FAVORITE- Horse who is bet down to favoritism when others would appear to outclass him on paper

FARRIER- Blacksmith

FAST TRACK- The optimum condition for a dirt track, dry, fast and even.

FEES- Amount paid to rider or the cost of nominating, entering or starting a horse in a stakes race

FENCE- The barrier between the front of the stands and the racing strip

FIELD- The horses in a race

FIELD HORSE (or MUTUEL FIELD)- Two or more starters running as a single betting unit, when there are more entrants than positions on the tote board can accommodate.

FILLY- Female horse up to and including the age of 4

FIRE SALE- A drastic reduction in the claiming price of a horse

FIRING- Applying a searing instrument, hot iron or electric needle to an injured portion of the leg to promote healing of injury or infirmity.

FIRM- A condition of a turf course corresponding to fast on a dirt track

FIRST TURN- Bend in the track beyond the starting point

FLAT RACE- Contested on level ground as opposed to hurdle race or steeplechase.

FLATTEN OUT- When a horse drops his head almost on straight line with body, generally from exhaustion.

FLOAT- Piece of track equipment dragged over racing strip to squeeze off surface water

FOAL- Newly born Thoroughbred, or until weaned. Applies to make and female horses

FORM- Current condition of a horse

FOUR FURLONGS- Half a mile also listed as 880 yards or 2,640 feet

FRACTIONAL TIME- Intermediate time recorded in a race. Examples can be at the quarter, half, three-quarters, and more

FRESH (FRESHENED)- A rested horse

FREE HANDICAP- A race in which no nomination fees

FRONT-RUNNER- A horse who wants to run on the lead as far as he/she can

FURLONG- One-eighth of a mile also listed as 220 yards or 660 feet

FUROSEMIDE- Lasix, generic term for a medication for the treatment of bleeders

GATE- Starting mechanism

GELDING- Castrated male horse

GET- Progeny of sire

GOOD BOTTOM- Track that is firm under the surface, which may be sloppy or wet on top

GOOD TRACK- Track condition between fast and slow

GRADUATE- Winning first time, horse or rider, it can also be graduating a certain level fo racing such as allowance or claiming

GRANDDAM (SECOND DAM)- Grandmother of a horse

GRANDSIRE- Grandfather of a horse, sire of the horse’s dam

GRAY- A mixture of white and black hairs.

GRADED RACE- A stakes race that is assigned a grade (I, II, or III) by the American Graded Stakes Committee based on the relative strength of the race

GROOM- A person who cares for a horse in a stable

GROUP RACE- European equivalent to North American graded races

HALF- Half a mile, four furlongs also listed as 880 yards or 2,640 feet

HALF-BROTHER, HALF-SISTER- Horses out of the same dam but by different sires

HALTER- Like a bridle used in handling horses around the stable and when not being ridden

HALTER (TO)- To claim a horse.

HAND- Four inches, or the unit used in measuring height of horses from withers to ground

HANDICAP- Race for which a handicapper assigns weights to be carried. Also, to handicap a race, to make selections on the basis of the past performances

HANDICAPPER- A person who assigns weights for handicap race. Also one who makes selections based on past performances

HANDICAPPING- A person who assigns weights for a handicap race. Also one who makes selections based on past performances

HANDILY- A fairly strenuous workout where the jockey urges the horse on but does not use the whip. Think of this as a moderate effort

HANDLE- Amount of money wagered in the pari-mutuel on a race, a program, a meeting or a year

HAND RIDE- Urging a horse with the hands and not using the whip

HARDBOOT- Kentucky horsemen

HEAD- A margin between horses equivalent to the length of a horse’s head

HEAD OF THE STRETCH- Beginning of the straight run to the finish line

HEAVY- Condition of track similar to, but even slower than, muddy

HIGHWEIGHT HANDICAP- Race in which the top weight is assigned no less than 140 pounds

HOMEBRED- A horse bred by his owner

HORSE- A male 5 years old or older

HORSING- Mare in heat

HOTWALKER- Person who walks horses to cool them out after workout or races

HUNG- Horse tiring, but holding position and cannot make up position on the leaders

HURDLE RACE- A jumping race over lower fences than steeplechase races

ICING- Standing a horse in a bucket of ice or applying ice packs to the legs to encourage circulation

IN FOAL- Pregnant mare

IN THE MONEY- Finishing first, second or third in a specific race

INFIELD- Area within the inner rail of the racetrack

IN HAND- Running under moderate control, at less than best pace that the animal is capable of

IMPOST- Weight carried or assigned

INTER-STATE- Wagering on a simulcast of a race from another state

INTER-TRACK – Wagering on a simulcast of a race from another track within the state

INQUIRY- Reviewing the race to check into a possible foul by the rider or horse in a race. Denoted by a flashing light on the tote board of the animal under review

IRONS- Stirrups

JOCKEY AGENT- An individual that obtains rides for a jockey

JOCKEY FEE- Sum paid to a rider

JUMPER- Steeplechase or hurdle horse

JUVENILE- Two-year-old horse

LAMINITIS- Inflammation under horny wall of foot

LASIX- Covered under furosemide (see that definition)

LEAD- Strap attached to halter to lead a horse

LEAD- Weights carried to make up the difference when a rider weighs less than the poundage a horse is assigned to carry

LEAD PONY- Horse or pony who heads parade of field from paddock to starting gate

LEAKY ROOF CIRCUIT- Lower level or minor tracks

LEG UP- To help a jockey mount his horse

LENGTH- Length of a horse from nose to tail, about 8 feet but also used as distance between horses in a race

LISTED RACE- A European race just below a group race in quality

LOCK- Slang for a horse that is a “sure thing” to win the race

LUG (IN OR OUT)- Action of a tiring horse, bearing in or out

LUNGE- Horse rearing or plunging

MAIDEN- A horse that has never won a race

MAIDEN RACE- A race where the entire field are non-winners

MARE- Female horse 5 years old or older

MASH- Moist mixture of food, usually grain or feed, for a horse

MEDICATION LIST- A list kept by the track veterinarian) showing which horses have been treated with medication such as furosemide

MIDDLE DISTANCE- Race distances generally between one mile to less than a mile and an eighth

MILER- A horse that race in races at or near a mile in length

MINUS POOL- A mutuel pool caused when one horse is so heavily bet that, after deductions there is not enough money left to pay the legal minimum on each winning bet. The track or racing association usually makes up the difference

MONEY RIDER- A rider who appears to dominate the big money races

MORNING GLORY- Horse who performs well in morning workouts but fails to replicate that form in actual races

MORNING LINE- Race odds that are set before wagering begins

MUDDY TRACK- Condition of racetrack after being soaked with water

MUDDER- Horse who excel on races ran on muddy tracks

MUZZLE- A guard placed over a horse’s mouth to prevent him from biting or eating.

NEAR SIDE- The side on which it is mounted

NECK- Unit of measurement, about the length of a horse’s neck; a quarter of a length

NOD- Lowering of the horses head

NOM DE COURSE- Assumed name of owner or racing partnership

NOSE- Smallest advantage a horse can win by

OAKS- A stakes event for 3-year-old fillies

OBJECTION- Claim of foul lodged by rider

ODDS- Chances of a horse to win based on the pari-mutuel betting of the general public

ODDS-ON- Odds of less than even money

OFFICIAL- Sign displayed when result is confirmed

OFF SIDE- Right side of horse

OFF TRACK- A wet racing surface.

OFF-TRACK BETTING- Wagering on horses at legalized betting offices run usually by the state or the tracks. Those wagers are included in total betting pools

ON THE BIT- When a horse is eager to run

ON THE NOSE- Betting a horse to win only

OPTIONAL CLAIMER- A race where the horse may or may not be offered for sale at claiming price

OVER-REACHING- Toe of hind shoe striking forelegs on heel

OVERLAND- Racing wide throughout, outside of other horses

OVERLAY- A horse going off at a higher price than he appears to warrant based on his past performances

OVERNIGHT LINE- Prices quoted night before the race

OVERNIGHT RACE- A race in which entries close a specific number of hours before running

OVERWEIGHT- Extra weight carried by a horse when the rider cannot make the required weight

PACE- Speed of the horses leading at specific points of the race

PADDOCK- Area where horses are saddled and kept before post time

PADDOCK JUDGE- Official in charge of paddock and saddling routine

PARI-MUTUEL- A form of wagering where all money bet is divided up among those who have winning tickets after deductions

PARLAY- Taking winnings from one race and using them to make your next bet

PAST PERFORMANCES- A compilation of data relating to a horse’s record used as a basis for handicapping

PATROL JUDGES- Officials who observe progress of race from various vantage points around the track

PENALTIES- Extra weight a horse must carry

PHOTO FINISH- A result so close it is necessary to use a finish-line camera to determine order of finish

PICK 3,4,5,6 OR MORE- A type of wager in which the winners of all the included races must be selected correctly

PILL- Small numbered ball drawn to decide post positions

PINCHED BACK- Horse in close quarters and forced back during the course of a race

PINHOOK- To buy a horse at auction for the purpose of reselling it later

PLACE- Second position at finish

PLACE BET- Wager on a horse to finish first or second

POCKET- Running in a position with horses in front and alongside also called stuck in a box

POLE- Markers at measured distances around the track, marking the distance from the finish

POST- Starting point or what position the horse enters in starting gate

POST PARADE- Horses going from paddock to starting gate past the stands

POST POSITION- Position of stall in starting gate from which a horse starts

POST TIME- Designated time from race to start

PREP- A workout or a race to prepare a horse for a future engagement

PUBLIC TRAINER- A trainer whose services are not exclusively engaged by a single stable and who accepts horses from a number of owners

PURSE- A prize of money to which owners do not contribute

QUARTER- One-quarter of a mile also listed as 440 yards or 1,320 feet

QUARTER CRACK- Injury to the hoof of a horse

QUARTER HORSE- Breed of horse especially fast for a quarter of a mile

QUARTER POLE- Marker one-quarter mile from the finish line

QUINELLA- Wager in which first two finishers must be picked regardless of which horses wins or finishes second

RABBIT- A horse that is considered to have little chance of winning a race but is entered purely to ensure a fat pace and set the race of for a stablemate to close on the field

RACING SECRETARY- Official who drafts conditions of races and assigns weights for handicap events

RAIL RUNNER- Horse who prefers to run next to inside rail

RANK- A horse that’s temperament does not allow the jockey to rate early in the race

RATE- Restraining a horse early in a race to conserve energy

RIDDEN OUT- Refers to a horse that wins under a strong hand ride

ROMP- Running (or winning) with utmost ease

ROUTE- Race distance of a mile or longer

ROUTER- Horse who performs well at distance races

SADDLE CLOTH- Cloth under the saddle on which number displayed

SCALE OF WEIGHTS- Fixed imposts to be carried by horses in a race according to age, distance, sex, and time of year.

SCHOOLING- Training a horse to starting from the gate and to teach him racing practices.

SCRATCH- Taking a horse out of a race

SECOND CALL- A second engagement of jockey who already is listed for a mount in a race

SECOND DAM- Grandmother; granddam

SEVEN FURLONGS- Seven-eighths of a mile also listed as 1,540 yards or 4,620 feet

SEX ALLOWANCE- Fillies and mares, according to their age and time of year, are allowed to carry three to five pounds less when meeting males.

SHADOW ROLL- Wool roll half way up the horse’s face to keep him from seeing his own shadow

SHED ROW- A row of barns

SHIPPER- A horse that travels from one track to another track for a specific race

SHOW- Third position at the finish in a race

SHOW BET- Wager on a horse to finish in the money; third or better in a given race

SHUT OFF- Pocketed. Unable to improve position

SHUT OUT- When a member of the betting public fails to get their bet in prior to the race starting

SILKS- Jacket and cap worn by riders which designate owner of the horse

SIMULCAST- Televising a race to other tracks

SIRE- Father of a horse

SIX FURLONGS- Three-quarter of a mile also listed as 1,320 yards or 3,960 feet

SIXTEENTH- One-sixteenth of a mile also listed as 110 yards or 330 feet

SLOPPY- Condition of footing. Wet on surface with firm bottom

SOLID HORSE- Contender for win honors in a given race

SOPHOMORE- Three-year-old horse

SPIT THE BIT- When a horse quits running against the bit, usually because the horse got tired

SPRINT- A short race, usually seven furlongs or less

STAKES-PLACED- Finishing first, second or third in a stakes race

STAKE- A race (usually a feature race) for which owner must pay up a fee to run a horse. Some stakes races are by invitation and require no payment or fee

STAKES HORSE- One capable of competing in such events

STALLION- Entire male horse

STARTER RACE- An allowance or handicap race restricted to horses who have started for a specific claiming price or less

STARTING GATE- Device with partitions for horses in which they are confined until the starter releases the doors in front to begin the race

STATE-BRED- A horse bred in a particular state and thus eligible to compete in special races restricted to horses from that state

STEADIED- A horse being taken in hand by his rider, usually because of being in close quarters

STEWARDS- Top officials of the meeting responsible for enforcing the rules

STEEPLECHASE- A jumping race over high obstacles

STICK- A jockey’s whip

STRETCH- Final straight portion of the racetrack to the finish line

STRETCH CALL- Position of horses at the eighth pole, usually about halfway down the stretch

STRETCH RUNNER- Horse who finishes fast down the stretch run of a race

STRETCH TURN- Bend of track into homestretch

STRIDE- Distance covered after each foot has touched the ground once

STUD- Male horse used for breeding

SUBSCRIPTION- Fee paid by owner to nominate horse for a stakes race or to maintain eligibility for a stakes race

SUCKLING- Thoroughbred still nursing

SUPERFECTA- A wager when the bettor is attempting to pick the runners that will finish in first, second, third, and fourth positions in a given race

SUSPEND (OR SUSPENSION)- Punishment for infraction of rules

TACK- Riders’ racing equipment

TAKE (OR TAKEOUT)- Commission deducted from mutuel pools that is paid to the track or state

TAKEN UP- A horse pulled up sharply by his rider because of being in close quarters

TATTOO- A letter and a group of numerals applied to the underside of the upper lip of each registered Thoroughbred

TOPWEIGHT- Highest weight assigned or carried in a race by a given horse

TOUT- One who gives tips on racehorses, usually with expectation of some personal reward in return; to give tips

TRACK BIAS- A racing surface that favors a particular running style or position; horses that run on the lead or on the rail

TRACK RECORD- Fastest time at various distances recorded at a particular track

TRIAL- Workout

TRIFECTA (or TRIPLE)- A wager picking the first three finishers in exact order

TRIP- A horse’s race

TRIPLE CROWN- In the United States, the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. In England, the 2,000 Guineas, Epsom Derby and St. Leger.

TURF COURSE- Grass course

UNDER CONTRACT- A trainer or rider formally signed for a specified time and compensation

UNDERLAY- A horse racing at shorter odds than it should based on past performances

UNDER PUNISHMENT- Horse being whipped and driven

UNDER WRAPS- Horse being held by the rider under tight restraint keeping it from running at top speed

UNTRIED- Not raced or tested for speed

UNWIND- Gradually withdrawing a horse from intensive training

VALET- Person who attends riders and keeps their wardrobe and equipment in order

WALKOVER- Race which scratches down to only one starter who merely gallops required distance which is a required action by racing rules

WARMING UP- Galloping horse on way to post

WASHY (WASHED OUT)- Horse breaking out in nervous sweat before race

WEANLING- A foal that is less than 1-year-old that has been separated from its dam

WEAVING- Act of threading way through field in race

WEIGHT-FOR-AGE- Fixed scale of weights to be carried by horses according to age, sex, distance of race and season of year

WHIP- Instrument, usually of leather, with which rider strikes horse to increase his speed

WINDED- A horse that is breathing with difficulty after workout or race

WINNER-TAKES-ALL- Winner receiving all the purse or stakes

WORK- To exercise a horse

YEARLING- Thoroughbred between the first New Year’s Day after being foaled and the following January 1

YIELDING- Condition of turf course with a great deal of moisture

Hopefully this list of horse racing terms will help you better understand what is going on, what you are reading, and the horse racing terms that broadcasters may throw out on air. Stay tuned for more editions of the Longshot Horse Racing Academy. Good luck and happy handicapping.

Types of Horse Races Explained

TYPES OF HORSE RACESIf you are reading this you are either brand new to horse racing or trying to better familiarize yourself with everything going on including types of horse races. Either way, welcome and here at LHR we try to give you the information you need in order to navigate the mind field that is handicapping. The LHR Academy was created to help people that are new to horse racing or just want to learn more about the types of races and classes of horses. Longshot Horse Racing is here to explain types of horses races for you and your friends.

In this installment of the Horse Racing Academy, we are going to talk about the different types of horse races that you may see when looking at any card in North America on almost any day of the week.

At a high level races are broken up into four categories including maiden, claiming, allowance, and stakes. Within each of those categories are variants that can impact the type of race and the quality of field that presents itself for the running of that specific event. Horses will run in multiple variants and categories throughout their careers. Let’s get to it and dive right in.


Maiden Races

First it is important to understand what a “Maiden” is. The term applies to any running horse that is yet to win a race. A horse could finish in second numerous times but until it stands in the winner’s circle for the first time, it is a maiden.  When a horse finally wins that is referred to as a horse “breaking their maiden.”

Within maiden races are different variants. The top of the maiden pyramid is referred to as Maiden Special Weight, which is sometimes listed as MSW or even Md Sp Wt. Horses that are entered in Maiden Special Weight races are horses that are considered, by their connections, to be higher quality runners that will quickly advance to the ranks of winners.

However, there are also Maiden Claiming races within the maiden category. This group are horses that can still develop but the expectations are not nearly as high. In fact, a different trainer/owner can claim the horse and have the move to their stable. Basically, they can buy a horse. More on claiming later. The tiers within Maiden Claiming are price driven. A high quality field is in a Maiden Claiming race for 50,000 or 50k compared to a Maiden Claiming race for 20,000 or 20k.

While not a rule, maiden races are typically run when horses are two or three years old. That is the general times when horses will enter their racing careers. Within these races horses are learning how to break from the gate, if they are tactical style horses, as well as numerous other things. There is the greatest room for error or advancement in a horse’s performance during maiden starts typically at the beginning of a horse’s career. Lets look at claiming races when discussing types of horse races next.

Claiming Races

Claiming races are pretty much what you would expect them to be. These races include horses that can be purchased by connections other than those of the current owners.  Of course, with everything there is always some sort of wrinkle. But let’s get into the concept a little bit.

When you look at almost any program any day at tracks throughout North America, a large portion of the races are either Claiming or Optional Claiming. The purse in these types of race can vary from amounts like 5,000 to six figure claiming prices. The latter are traditionally reserved for larger tracks like Churchill Downs, Keeneland, or Del Mar. The former are more aligned with smaller tracks.

An owner will enter a horse in either one with the intention of possible selling their horse. The big difference is an owner can choose to not sell their horse in the Optional Claiming event and just run for a purse. However, a horse in a straight Claiming race is offering their horse for the price. In either race, a claim must be made before the race begins. Lets look at allowance races when discussing types of horse races next.

Allowance Races

The next level up the ladder of horse racing is commonly referred to as the Allowance race. Unlike Claiming, these races have horses that are not for sale. The name Allowance refers to the fact that there are certain criteria that are required for that specific race.

For example, a NW3X race is one that can be seen on a given racing program. The NW3X refers to the fact that the horses that enter this type of race must not have won three or more races at that level. When you read it think of Non-Winner 3 Times. While this could be for any number of races, they typically exclude the maiden victory and tend to relegated to the allowance level.

Other conditions in these races can include weight allocations or allowances, horses that started at the top levels of claiming, and a multitude of variants within the race types. It is key to look at the type of race and use that to assist in the determination of which horses should or should not excel. Horses can run at higher levels and lack success then drop down to lower levels or purse values and suddenly demolish weaker competition. Lets look at stakes races when discussing types of horse races next.

Stakes Races

This is the rare air where the top notches of horses make their home. When you think of Stakes races do not always think Kentucky Derby, Travers Stakes, or World Championships. Those are graded stakes and we will get into those in a minute. There are also non-graded stakes which are usually named for a person, business, or champion horse. Depending on the race track that can mean different things.

For example, a local track might not qualify for Graded Stakes racing but might hold their local championship in a local stakes race. Some tracks will host restricted stakes that could be limited to horses that race at that track, in that state, were born in that state etc. That race would carry one of the largest purses that the track has to offer and would bring out some of the best horses at that track for that specific race type. Depending on location and specific restrictions, some horses from other tracks might ship in for these races but that is rarer at this level.

Graded Stakes come in at three different levels to include Grade 1, Grade 2, and Grade 3 with Grade 1 being the top if the pyramid. The determination of whether a stakes should be graded or what level the race should be within the grading is determined by the Graded Stakes Committee that reviews each races at the completion of each season and adjusted the level based on criteria to include performance after that race and other determining factors.

Graded Stakes bring out the best of the best due to the value of those purses, the prestige that comes with a win, and the ripple effects that these titles can have on the breeding value or any horse that wins or even runs in these races. The only restrictions that tend to follow these races are the sex of the horse (I.E. the Kentucky Oaks which is only for females) and the age of the horse (I.E. the Belmont Stakes can only be for three-year-olds while the Breeders’ Cup Classic is for three-year-olds and up).

Hopefully this breakdown of types of horse races will help you better understand what is going on, what you are reading, and the horse racing terms that broadcasters may throw out on air. Stay tuned for more editions of the Longshot Horse Racing Academy. Good luck and happy handicapping.


Calculating Horse Racing Odds, Payoffs, Tote Board

CALCULATING HORSE RACING ODDSIf you are reading this you are either brand new to horse racing or trying to better familiarize yourself with everything going on including calculating horse racing odds. Either way, welcome and here at LHR we try to give you the information you need in order to navigate the mind field that is handicapping. The LHR Academy was created to help people that are new to horse racing or just want to learn more about how to wager, calculate winners, or just better understand what is going on at the track. Longshot Horse Racing is here to explain calculating horses racing odds for you and your friends. In this addition we are going to talk about odds, the tote board, and payoffs. 

If you have ever been to live racing or just watched the races on television or the internet, you have noticed a large display usually in the infield of the racetrack. On that display are a bunch of numbers and information. That is the tote board and it is loaded with information. These boards do come in many different shapes and sizes but there is some information always readily available. Some of the information you can find on any tote board includes Race Number, MTP or Minutes to Post, Post Time, Track Condition (firm, muddy, sloppy, yielding etc.), Fractions, Final Time, Unofficial or Official, Pools, Odds, Will Pays, and Pay Outs.

As you absorb what is on the tote board most people find the odds section fairly easily but do not quite understand what those odds actually mean and how calculating horse racing odds works. There are all types of possible numbers up there from 30-1 to 9-5 or even 3-5 but what does that mean? Those numbers are not exactly what a bet on that horse will pay you but rather what profit you can gather and what it just might cost you in order to get that profit. Let’s use an example to explain what I mean. 30-1 implies that for every $1 you bet you will get a profit of $30 while 3-5 means that for every $5 you bet you will recoup a profit of $3. The lower the return on investment for a particular horse the higher the probability of winning determined by the betting public. This is horse is also referred to as the post-time favorite.

Most track have a minimum wager amount of $2 on a Win bet so let’s use that and look at 30-1 again. Since you cannot bet $1 then the profit on your $2 bet would be $60. But wait, that does not include your actually initial investment of $2 which makes the return $62.


Things are never that straight forward and if that was the case then the track would not survive.  The odds on the tote board are rounded numbers so 30-1 might have actually been 29.7-1 or 30.3-1. The rounding is called breakage and is explained in a different part of the LHR Academy. Basically it means that not every wagered dollar is put back into the payouts. This is referred to as the “take” and it is where the track makes its money. The general rule of thumb in North America is a “take” between 14-20 percent.


If you want to know where your odds actually come from you have to refer back to the good ole tote board again and be prepared to do a little math. From the tote board you need to look at the total money wagered in a specific pool, in this case it will be the Win pool. You will also need the amount of money wagered on a specific horse. The example below is used to break down the calculations using a “take” or 20 percent.

Calculating Odds Image


Hopefully this breakdown calculating horse racing odds will help you better understand what is going on, what you are reading, and the horse racing terms that broadcasters may throw out on air. Stay tuned for more editions of the Longshot Horse Racing Academy. Good luck and happy handicapping.

Types of Horse Racing Bets Basics To Advanced

TYPES OF HORSE RACING BETSIf you are reading this you are either brand new to horse racing or trying to better familiarize yourself with everything going on including types of horse racing bets. Either way, welcome and here at LHR we try to give you the information you need in order to navigate the minefield that is handicapping. The LHR Academy was created to help people that are new to horse racing or just want to learn more about how to wager, calculate winners, or just better understand what is going on at the track. In this addition we are going to talk about the types of bets you can make at the track.

When you get to the track you can feel overwhelmed especially at the beginning. There are so many people running around, overloads of information, and a multitude of other distracting factors. Placing a bet should not have to be one of them. Below are the types of bets that can be made on almost any horse race but they are broken down into three categories: the basics, intermediate, and advanced. Let’s take a look at the types of horse racing bets.



Let’s start out looking at the basic wagering options on the track. When you begin handicapping it is best to start simple and grow as your knowledge increases.

WIN — A bet on a horse to win the race. If the horse you bet on wins the race then you win money

PLACE— A bet on a horse to finish second in a race. If the horse you bet on finishes in first or second place you win money.

SHOW — A bet on a horse to finish third in a race. If the horse you bet on finishes in first, second, or third place you win money.

ACROSS THE BOARD – Three equal bets on the same horse to finish first, second, or third. If the horse wins you win all three bets. If the horse finishes in second place you win two of the three bets. If the horse finishes third you win one bet.



At this level things get a little harder but the rewards are also greater as well. Instead of focusing on one horse you are focusing on multiple horses in the same race.

EXACTA — Pick two horses in one race. If those horses finish in first and second, in exact order, you win.

QUINELLA — Pick two horses in one race. If those horses finish in first or second, in either order, you win.

TRIFECTA — Pick three horses in one race. If those horses finish in first, second, and third, in exact order, you win.

SUPERFECTA — Pick four horses in one race. If those horses finish first, second, third, and fourth, in exact order, you win.

SUPER HIGH FIVE – Pick five horses in one race. If those horses finish first, second, third, fourth, and fifth, in exact order, you win.

BOX WAGERS – Any of the wagers within this Intermediate section can be boxed. Boxing a wager allows the chosen horses to come in in any order. Boxing a wager calculates all of the bet options and drastically changes the price of an overall bet.



Here things step up yet again. Not only are you picking the winner of one race but you are picking the winners of multiple races in order. The payouts here can go through the roof if you are correct.

DAILY DOUBLE — Two races, typically in order, make up the Daily Double. Pick one horse in each race and if the horses win  both races, you win. This wager must be made before the first race begins.

PICK 3 — Three consecutive races make up the Pick 3. Pick one horse in each race and if the horses win  all three races, you win. This wager must be made before the first race begins.

PICK 4 — Four consecutive races make up the Pick 4. Pick one horse in each race and if the horses win  all four  races, you win. This wager must be made before the first race begins.

PICK 5 – Five consecutive races, normally at the start of a race day,  make up the Pick 5. Pick one horse in each race and if the horses win  all five  races, you win. This wager must be made before the first race begins.

PICK 6 —Six consecutive races make up the Pick 6. Pick one horse in each race and if the horses win  all six  races, you win. This wager must be made before the first race begins.

If there is not winning Pick 6 bet that day, those picking 5 out of 6 will split 30 percent of the Pick 6 pool. The remaining 70 percent will be rolled into the Pick 6 pool on the next racing day, and will continue to do so until there is a correct 6-for-6 winner of the bet.

Hopefully this breakdown of types of horse racing bets will help you better understand what is going on, what you are reading, and the horse racing terms that broadcasters may throw out on air. Stay tuned for more editions of the Longshot Horse Racing Academy. Good luck and happy handicapping.