Glossary of Thoroughbred Racing Terms


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

ACTION- A horse’s manner of moving.

ADDED MONEY- Money added to the purse of a race by the racing association (or sometimes by a breeding or other fund) to the amount paid by owners in nomination, eligibility, entry and starting fees.

AGENT- A person empowered to transact business of a stable owner or jockey. Also, a person empowered to sell or buy horses for an owner or breeder.

ALL OUT- When a horse extends himself to the utmost.

ALLOWANCE RACE- A race other than claiming for which the racing secretary drafts certain conditions to determine weights.

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

ALSO ELIGIBLE- A horse officially entered, but not permitted to start unless the field is reduced by scratches below a specified number.

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. Also known as a bug boy.

APPRENTICE ALLOWANCE- Weight concession to an apprentice rider: usually 10 pounds until the fifth winner, seven pounds until the 35th winner and five pounds for one calendar year from the 35th winner.


BABY RACE- A race for 2-year-olds.

BACKSTRETCH- Straight of far side of track between the turns. Also, stable area.

BACKSIDE- Stable area

BAD ACTOR- Fractious horse.

BAD DOER- Horse with poor appetite.

BALD (or BALD FACE)- White face of horse, including eyes, nostrils or part of the latter.

BANDAGE- Strips of cloth wound around the lower part of a horse’s legs for support or protection against injury.

BAR SHOE- A horse shoe with a rear bar to protect an injured foot; bar shoes may be worn with aluminum pads to protect a bruised frog, or may be worn alone.

BAY- Color of horse varying from yellowish tan (light bay) to brown or dark, rich shade of mahogany (also dark bay/brown) with black points- mane, tail, & shadings low on legs.

BEARING IN (or OUT)- Deviating from a straight course. May be due to weariness, infirmity, punishment by rider or rider’s inability to control mount.

BELL- Signal sounded when starter opens the gates or, at some tracks, to mark the close of betting.

BIT- Bar in horse’s mouth by which he is guided and controlled. Different types of bits (E.g. D-Bit, Ring-Bit, Haughton Bit, etc.) are used for different purposes.

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

BRACE (or BRACER)- Rubdown liniment used on a horse after a race or a workout.

BLANKET FINISH- Horses finishing so closely together a blanket could cover them.

BLAZE- White patch on face of a horse.

BLEEDER- Horse who bleeds during or after a workout or race due to ruptured pulmonary blood vessels, which are very fragile, in the lungs. Also, EIPH, or Exercise Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage.

BLIND SWITCH- Being caught in a pocket or such a position behind or between horses that a free course cannot be pursued.

BLINKERS- Device to limit a horse’s vision to prevent him from swerving from objects or seeing other horses on either side of him. Different types of blinkers (e.g. French Cup, cheaters, full cup, etc.) are used for different purposes. Also referred to as a “hood”.

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

BLOOD WORMS- Parasites that get into the blood stream.

BLOWOUT- A short, final workout, usually a day or two before a race, designed to sharpen a horse’s speed.

BOARD- Totalisator board on which odds, betting pools and other information is displayed. Also: TOTE BOARD.

BOBBLE- A bad step away from the starting gate, usually caused by the track breaking away from under a horse’s hoof and causing him to duck his head or nearly go to his knees.

BOG SPAVIN- A cosmetic blemish of the hock area that is similar in appearance to windpuffs and thoroughpin. Specifically, fluid swelling of one of the joint capsules of the hock causes the hock joint to appear swollen. This swelling is not accompanied by heat or pain, and it does not usually cause lameness.

BOLT- Sudden veering from a straight course.

BOTTOM- Stamina in a horse. Also, sub-surface of racing strip.

BOTTOM LINE- Thoroughbred’s breeding on female side. The bottom half of an extended pedigree diagram.

BOWED TENDON (a BOW)- Rupture of the sheath enclosing the tendon from the knee to the fetlock joint.

BREAK (A horse)- To accustom a young horse to racing equipment and methods, and to carry a rider.

BREAKAGE- In pari-mutuel payoffs that are rounded out to a nickel or dime, those pennies that are left over. Breakage is generally split between the track and state and, in some cases, breeding or other funds, in varying proportions.

BREAKDOWN- When a horse suffered an injury; lameness.

BREAK MAIDEN- Horse or rider winning first race of career.

BREATHER- Restraining or easing off on a horse for a short distance in a race to permit him to conserve or renew his strength.

BRED- A horse is bred at the place of his birth. Also, the mating of horses.

BREEDER- Owner of dam at time foal is dropped.

BREEDING FUND- A fund set up by many states to provide bonus prizes for state-breds.

BREEZE- Working a horse at a moderate speed; less effort than handily.

BRIDGE-JUMPER- Someone who makes large show bets on short-priced favorites.

BRIDLE- The headgear used to control a horse, consisting of buckled straps to which a BIT and REINS are attached

BROODMARE- Female Thoroughbred used for breeding.

BUCKED SHINS- Inflammation of front of cannon bone to which young horses are particularly susceptible.

BUCKET OF STEAM- A fictional item that plays a part in an ongoing inside joke on the backside of racetracks and training centers. More experienced stable employees will send a new, or GREEN employee in search of this item that doesn’t exist. See, SADDLE STRETCHER and KEY TO THE QUARTER POLE.

BUG- Apprentice allowance. Apprentice rider. Also, BUG BOY.

BULLET (WORK)- The best time for the distance on the work tab for a given day at a track.

BULL RING- Small racetrack; usually less than one mile.

BUTE (or BUTAZOLIDIN)- Trade name for phenylbutazone, a commonly used analgesic for horses.


CALK- Projection, or cleat, on the bottom (heel) of a shoe to give a horse greater traction, especially on a wet track. These shoes have restrictions and are not permitted at some racetracks due to the damage they can cause to horses and the surfaces on which they are running. Calks are not to be confused with “toe grabs”, which are also used to aid in traction but are located at the front (toe) of the horseshoe. Other types of shoes used to enhance traction include “bends”, “jar calks”, or “stickers”. Calks are not permitted on any turf course in North America.

CALL (the)- Running position of horses in a race at various points.

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

CAPPED HOCK- Injury to hock caused by kicking or rubbing.

CAST- A horse is a cast when he lies down in the stall in such a way that he is too close to the wall, and there is a danger that he may not be able to get up by himself without injury.

CAT-HOPPED- When a horse wins by many lengths.

CAVESSON- A type of BRIDLE that lacks a BIT.

CHART- A statistical “picture” of a race (from which past performances are compiled), which shows the position and margin of each horse at designated points of call (depending on distance of the race), age, weight carried, owner, trainer, purse, conditions, pay-off prices, odds, time and other data.

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

CHESTNUT- Varies from light, washy yellow to dark liver color, between which comes red, gold and liver shades. A chestnut never has black points, mane or tail. Also, a callosity on the body of a horse or other equine found on the inner side of the leg above the knee on the foreleg and, if present, below the hock on the hind leg. Also referred to as a NIGHT EYE.

CHUTE- Extension of backstretch or homestretch to permit straightaway run from start.

CLAIMING- Buying a horse out of race for entered price.

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.

CLASSIC- Race of traditional importance. In the U.S. specifically the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

CLERK OF SCALES- An official whose chief duty is to weigh the riders before and after a race to be sure proper weight is carried.

CLIMBING- A fault in a horse’s stride in which, instead of reaching out, his action is abnormally high.

CLOCKER- One who times workouts and races.

CLOSER- A horse who runs best in the latter part of the race, coming from off the pace.

CLUBHOUSE TURN- Generally, the turn closest to the clubhouse. The first turn on the racetrack (going counter-clockwise).

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

COLT- Male horse under 5 years of age.

COMPANY- Class of horses in a race. Members of the field.

CONDITION BOOK- Book issued by racing secretary that sets forth conditions of races to be run.

CONDITION RACE- An event with conditions limiting it to a certain class of horse. Such as: Fillies, 3-year-olds, non-winners of two races other than maiden or claiming, etc.

CONFORMATION- A horse’s build and general physical structure; the way he is put together.

CONTRACT RIDER- Jockey under contract to a stable.

COOLING OUT- Restoring a horse, usually by walking, to normal temperature after becoming overheated in a race or workout.

COUGH- Broadly, a cold. More prevalent in spring among young Thoroughbreds.

COUPLED- Two or more horses running as an entry in a single betting unit. Also know as a “coupled entry”. E.g. #1 and #1A

CRIBBER (WIND SUCKER)- A horse that clings to objects with his teeth and sucks air into his stomach.

CUP- Trophy awarded to owners of winners. Also distance race of a mile and a half or more.

CUP HORSE- One qualified to engage in distance races.

CUPPY (TRACK)- A surface that breaks away under a horse’s hoof.

CURRY COMB- A handheld metal device with serrated ridges, used for removing dirt out of a horse’s coat. Can also be made of flexible rubber.

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


DAILY DOUBLE- Type of wager calling for the selection of winners of two consecutive races, usually the first and second.

DAM- Mother of a Thoroughbred.

DAMSIRE or BROODMARE SIRE- The sire of a broodmare.

DEAD-HEAT- Two or more horses finishing in an exact tie at the wire.

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 a…)- Breaking a maiden, 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- Well beaten, finishing a great distance behind the winner.

DOGS- Wooden barrier (or rubber traffic cones) placed a certain distance out from the inner rail, to prevent horses during workout period, when track is wet, muddy, soft yielding, or heavy, from churning 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 speed or stamina.

DQ- Disqualified.

DRIVING- Strong urging by rider.

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

DWELT- Tardy in breaking from the gate.

DYED IN THE WOOL- Authentic, legitimate. E.g., “Silky Sullivan was a dyed in the wool closer.”


EASED- Chart caller’s assessment of a horse that is being deliberately slowed by the jockey to prevent injury or harm to the horse.

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

EGG BAR SHOE- An egg bar is simply an oval-shaped horseshoe. Where the heels would normally end, they keep going—but in a circular direction—creating an oval back to the shoe.

EIGHTH- A furlong; 220 yards; 660 feet.

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

ENGAGEMENT- Stake nomination. Riding commitment.

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.

EQUIPMENT- Whip, blinkers, etc. Gear carried by a horse in a race.

EQUIVALENT ODDS- Mutuel price horses pay for each $1 bet.

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

EXACTA (or PERFECTA)- A wager in which the first two finishers in a race, in exact order of finish, must be picked. An EXACTA (or PERFECTA) BOX, is a wager in which the first two finishers of a race, in either 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- Forced 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 drastic than weakened but less drastic than stopped.

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

FARRIER- Blacksmith.

FAST TRACK- Footing at best—dry, fast, and even.

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

FENCE- Sometimes called “outside rail” or “inside rail”. More properly, the barrier between the front of the stands and the racing strip and the racetrack and the INFIELD.

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 totalisator board can accommodate.

FIGURE-8 (NOSEBAND)- Is a piece of equipment used in conjunction with the BRIDLE that fits over a horse’s nose and is secured under its jaw to prevent it from opening its mount and sucking air, thereby impeding its breathing, during a race or strenuous exercise. (BANDAGING TECHNIQUE)- A figure-8 technique is used to put on many bandages for racehorses—POLOS, RUNDOWN BANDAGES, etc. It is a procedure whereby a bandage is applied alternately in two parts, usually two segments of a limb above and below the joint, in such a way that the turns resemble the number 8.

FILLING- Swelling or edema, typically in a horse’s joints.

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

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.

FLAG- Signal held by man stationed a short distance in front of the gate at exact starting point of race. Official timing starts when flag is dropped to denote proper start.

FLAT TO THE BOARDS- When a horse is under pressure in the stretch drive of a race.

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. May indicate exhaustion.

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

FOAL- Newly born Thoroughbred, or until weaned. Male or female.

FORGING-Is a gait abnormality related to the timing of the movements of the front and rear legs of the horse. It occurs when the toe of the hind foot strikes the heel or bottom of the front foot on the same side, just as the front foot is leaving the ground.

FOUNDER- See Laminitis.

FOUR FURLONGS- Half a mile; 880 yards; 2,640 feet.

FOUR LIFETIME- A condition for a race for a horse that has not won four races in its career.

FRACTIONAL TIME- Intermediate time recorded in a race, as at the quarter, half, three-quarters, etc.

FRESH (FRESHENED)- A rested horse.

FREE HANDICAP- A race with no nomination fees.

FROG- A tough, rubbery, triangular part of the underside of a horse’s hoof that acts as a shock absorber for the horse’s foot and also assists in blood circulation of the lower leg.

FRONT-RUNNER- A horse who usually leads (or tries to lead) the field for as far as he can.

FURLONG- One-eighth of a mile; 220 yards; 660 feet.

FUROSEMIDE- Generic term for a medication for the treatment of bleeders. Most common trade name is Lasix.


GAIT- The ways in which a horse can move-walk, trot, canter, gallop, run, etc.

GALLOP- A type of gait, a fast canter. Also, to ride a horse at that gait.

GATE- Starting mechanism.

GEARED DOWN- When a clear winner isn’t asked for maximum exertion from the rider in the final stages of a race.

GELDING- Castrated male horse.

GET- Progeny of sire.

GET-OUT RACE- The last race on the program.

GLUE-ON SHOE- A horseshoe that is applied by a farrier with epoxy glue rather than the traditional nails. Can be very helpful for horses with hoof problems.

GOING- Is the condition of the track surface prior to a horse race or race meet. The going is determined by the amount of moisture in the ground and is assessed by an official steward on the day of the race.

GOOD BOTTOM- Track that is firm under the surface, which may be sloppy or wet. Also, a horse that is well conditioned or fit.

GOOD TRACK- Condition between fast and slow.

GRAB A QUARTER- To strike the side or bulb of a front foot with a hind foot. This is racetrack jargon that would be expressed more clearly by saying that the horse overstepped or overreached and cut himself.

GRADUATE- Winning for the first time, horse or rider. Also, graduate of the claiming ranks- a horse that has moved up to allowance, stakes, or handicap racing.

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.

GREEN- An inexperienced horse or stable employee.

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; 880 yards; 2,640 feet.

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

HALTER- Headgear used to lead, handle, or occasionally tie up horses around the barn and elsewhere. It fits behind the ears (behind the poll) and around the muzzle. To handle the animal, a lead shank (also known as a “shank”, or “lead rope”) is attached.

HALTER (TO)- To claim a horse.

HAND- Four inches. 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- One who assigns weights for handicap race. Also one who makes selections based on past performances.

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

HANDILY- Working or racing with moderate effort, but more effort than breezing.

HANDLE- Amount of pari-mutuel money wagered 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. One horse leading another by the length of his head.

HEAD OF THE STRETCH- Beginning of the straight run home.

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.

HOOD- Another term for BLINKERS.

HORSE- Broadly, any Thoroughbred regardless of sex. Specifically, an entire, intact (non-gelded) male 5-years-old or older.

HORSING- Mare in heat.

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

HUNG- Horse tiring, but holding position.

HURDLE RACE- Contested over obstacles. A jumping race is over lower fences than steeplechase races.


ICING- Standing a horse in ice or applying ice packs/boots to the legs to encourage circulation and to decrease swelling or edema.

IN FOAL- Pregnant mare.

IN THE BOOT- The jockey riding the horse. E.g., “Whirlaway won with jockey Eddie Arcaro in the boot.”

IN THE MONEY- Finishing first, second or third.

IN THE VANGUARD- A position at the forefront of a race. Term made popular by retired race caller Tom Durkin.

INFIELD- Area within the inner rail of the racetrack.


IN HAND- Running under moderate control, at less than best pace.

IMPOST- Weight carried or assigned.

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

INTER-TRACK (Wagering)- Wagering on a simulcast of a race from another track within the state.

INQUIRY- Reviewing the race to check into a possible infraction of the rules. Also, a sign flashed by officials on tote board on such occasions.

IRONS- Stirrups.


JOCKEY FEE- Sum paid to a rider.

JOG- Slow, easy gait.

JUMPER- Steeplechase or hurdle horse.

JUVENILE- Two-year-old horse.


KEY TO THE QUARTER POLE: A fictional item that plays a part in an ongoing inside joke on the backside of racetracks and training centers. More experienced stable employees will send a new, or GREEN, employee in search of this item that doesn’t exist. See, “Bucket of steam” and “Saddle Stretcher”.

KNOCK OFF: To groom a horse in stable parlance. To rub a horse with a curry comb and brush it off.


LAMINITIS- Inflammation under horny wall of foot.

LASIX- See furosemide.

LATE DOUBLE- A second daily double offered on the latter part of the program. (See Daily Double)

LEAD- Strap attached to halter to lead a horse.

LEAD (or LEAD PAD)- 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 that heads parade of field from paddock to starting gate. Also a horse or pony who accompanies a starter to post.


LEG UP- To help a jockey mount his horse. Also, a jockey having a mount. Also, to strengthen a horse’s legs through exercise, or to train and condition a horse.

LENGTH- Length of a horse from nose to tail, about 8 feet. Also distance between horses in a race.

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

LOCK- Slang for a “sure thing” winner.

LUG (in or out)- Action of a tiring horse, bearing in or out.

LUNGE- Horse rearing or leaping and extending itself outward (often in the air, shortly after the start of a race). A sudden forward thrust of the body.

LUNGE LINE- A rope-like piece of equipment, usually 20-feet or longer in length attached to the bridle or halter to provide control while LUNGEING or LONGEING.

LUNGEING (or LONGEING)- A technique for training horses where a horse is asked to work at the end of a LUNGE LINE and respond to commands from a handler on the ground that holds the line.


MAIDEN- A horse who has not won a race. Also applied to non-winning rider.

MAIDEN RACE- A race for non-winners.

MAKE A RUN- Charge by a horse in a race.

MARE- Female horse 5-years-old or older. Also, female of any age who has been bred.

MASH- Moist mixture, hot or cold, of grain and other feed given to horses.

MEDICATION LIST- A list kept by the track veterinarian and published by the track showing which horses have been treated with phenylbutazone and/or furosemide.

MIDDLE DISTANCE- Broadly from seven-furlongs to less than a mile and an eighth.

MINUS POOL- A mutuel pool caused when one 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.

MONEY RIDER- A rider who excels in rich races.

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

MORNING LINE- Approximate odds quoted before wagering determines exact odds.

MUDDY TRACK- Deep condition of racetrack after being soaked with water.

MUDDER- Horse who races well on muddy tracks.

MUDLARK- Superior mudder.

MUZZLE- Nose and lips of a horse. Also a guard placed over a horse’s mouth to prevent it from biting or eating.


NAVICULAR DISEASE- Corrosive ulcer on the navicular bone, usually in the front feet.

NEAR SIDE- Left side of a horse, side on which he is mounted.

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

NERVED- Operation that severs vital nerve to enable horses to race without pain. Illegal in most jurisdictions.

NIGHT EYE- A callosity on the body of a horse or other equine found on the inner side of the leg above the knee on the foreleg and, if present, below the hock on the hind leg. Also referred to as a CHESTNUT.

NOD- Lowering of head. Winning in that manner.

NOM DE COURSE- Assumed name of owner or racing partnership.

NOSE- Smallest advantage a horse can win by. In England called a short head.


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

OBJECTION- Claim of foul lodged by rider, patrol judge or other official. If lodged by official, it is called an inquiry.

ODDS-ON- Odds of less than even money. In England it is simply called “on,” thus a horse “5-4 on” is actually at odds of 4-5.

OFFICIAL- Sign displayed when result is confirmed. Also, a racing official.

OFF SIDE- Right side of horse.

OFF TRACK- An off track refers to a wet racing surface.

OFF-TRACK BETTING- Wagering on horses at legalized betting offices run usually by the state or the tracks, or, in New York, by independent corporations chartered by the state, with wagers commingled with on-track betting pools.

ON THE BIT- When a horse is eager to run.

ON THE BOARD- Finishing among the first four.

ON THE BRIDLE- When a horse is eager to run.

ON THE MUSCLE- When a horse is eager to run.

ON THE NOSE- Betting a horse to win only.

OSSELETS- Bony growth on the fetlock or ankle joint resulting in inflammation of the enveloping membrane of the bone.

OUT OF THE BOX- A horse’s first start.

OVER-REACHING- Toe of hind shoe striking forelegs on heel, or back of coronet.

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- A sheet of paper available to horsemen at the racing secretary’s office showing the entries, post positions, weights, and jockeys for the next race day.

OVERNIGHT LINE- Prices quoted night before the race.

OVERNIGHT RACE- A race in which entries close a specific number of hours before running (such as 48 hours), as opposed to a stakes race for which nominations close weeks and sometimes months in advance.

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


PADDOCK- Structure or area where horses are saddled and kept before post time.

PADDOCK JUDGE- Official in charge of paddock and saddling routine.

PANEL- Another term for a furlong, or one-eighth of a mile; 220 yards; 660 feet.

PARIMUTUEL- A form of wagering that originated in France in which all money bet is divided up among those who have winning tickets, after taxes, takeout, and other deductions are made.

PAST PERFORMANCES- A compilation of a horse’s record, including all pertinent data, 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, especially in a handicap.

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

PICK SIX (or more, or less)- A type of wager in which the winners of all the included races must be selected.

PILL- Small numbered ball drawn to decide post positions.

PINCHED BACK- Horse in close quarters and forced back.

PINHOOKER; 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.

PLACING JUDGES- Officials who determine the order in which horses reach the finish line.

PLATER- Claiming horse. Also a farrier.

PLATES- Shoes horses wear in races. Racing plates.

POCKET- Boxed in, shut off. Running in a position with horses in front and alongside.

POLE- Markers at measured distances around the track, marking the distance from the finish. The quarter pole, for instance, is a quarter of a mile from the finish, not from the start.

POLL- Is the part of an animal’s head, alternatively referencing a point immediately behind or right between the ears. Specifically, refers to the occipital protrusion at the back of the skull.

POLO BANDAGES (WRAPS)- Bandage materials, generally made of fleece, for a horse’s legs. They can be quite stretchy compared to other bandaging materials and are mainly used for protection during ridden work, LUNGEING, and turnout.

POLYFLEX SHOE- A glue-on polyurethane horseshoe that enhances the natural shock absorbing mechanism of the hoof.

POST- Starting point or position in starting gate.

POOL- Mutuel pool. Total sum bet on a race such as the win pool, daily double pool, exacta pool, etc.

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 for race to start.

PREFERRED LIST- Horses with prior rights to starting for various reasons.

PREP (or PREP RACE)- A workout or a race to prepare a horse for a future engagement.

PROP- Refusing to break with field from gate. Standing flat-footed. Also, when a horse suddenly stops running a full speed by extending his forefeet as “brakes.”

PUBLIC TRAINER- One 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 does not contribute.


QUARTER- One-quarter of a mile; 440 yards; 1,320 feet.

QUARTER CRACK- Crack in wall of hoof running downwards from coronet band.

QUARTER HORSE- Breed of horse, especially fast for a quarter of a mile, from which its name is derived.

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

QUINELLA- Wager in which first two finishers must be picked, but payoff is made no matter which of the two wins and which runs second.


RABBIT- A horse that is considered to have little chance of winning a race but is entered purely to ensure a fast pace and tire out other front-runners, softening up the competition for the benefit of an entry mate.

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.

RECEIVING BARN- A structure in which horses entered are isolated for a certain period of time before a race.

REDBOARD- Victorian method of declaring a race official, by posting a red flag or board on the tote board. Also, a mildly derogatory phrase used to describe someone who claims to have selected the winner, but always after the race.

REINS- A long, narrow strap attached at one end to a horse’s bit, typically used in pairs to guide or check a horse while riding or driving.

REFUSE- When a horse will not break from the gate. In jumping races, balking at the jump.

RESERVED- Held for a particular engagement or race. Also, held off the pace.

RIDDEN OUT- Refers to a horse that wins under a vigorous hand ride but is not being whipped.

RIDE SHORT- Using short stirrup leathers.

RIDGLING- A horse with one or both undescended testes.

ROACH BACK- Spinal curvature, opposite of swayback. The spine is either very straight or curved upward. Can cause a limited range of movement and can shorten a horses’ stride.

ROAN- Mixture of white and red (or brown) hairs.

ROARING- Deep, prolonged cough, generally when a horse is galloping.

ROGUE- Ill-tempered horse.

ROMP- Running (or winning) with utmost ease.

ROUTE- Race distance of a mile or longer.

ROUTER- Horse who performs well at distance races.

RUNDOWN- Of a horse, to suffer abrasions on the heels as a result of contact with the dirt and sand of the track surface.

RUNDOWN BANDAGES (or WRAPS)- Bandages on the hind legs, usually with a pad inside, to keep a horse from “burning” or scraping its heels when it races.

RUN-OUT BIT- A special type of BIT to prevent a horse from BEARING OUT (or BEARING IN).


SADDLE CLOTH- Cloth under the saddle on which number (and sometimes horse’s name) denoting post-position is displayed.

SADDLE STRETCHER: A fictional item that plays a part in an ongoing inside joke on the backside of racetracks and training centers. More experienced stable employees will send a new, or GREEN, employee in search of this item that doesn’t exist. See, BUCKET OF STEAM and KEY TO THE QUARTER POLE.

SAVAGE- To bite another horse or a person.

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

SCALPING- Hitting the coronet band of a hind foot with the toe of a forefoot.

SCHOOLING- Accustoming a horse to starting from the gate and to teach him racing practices. In steeplechasing, more particularly, to teach a horse to jump.

SCHOOLING LIST- List of horses required by the starter to school at the starting gate before being permitted to race.

SCOPE (A HORSE)- To give a horse an ENDOSCOPIC EXAMINATION, which is a procedure used to detect bleeding in the lungs or ulcers in the stomach. A veterinarian will pass a long, thin tube with a small camera attached to the end (ENDOSCOPE) through the horse’s upper airway and trachea. To diagnose stomach ulcers, the tube is passed down through the horse’s esophagus and into the stomach. Also, in confirmation, (to have SCOPE) is a typically long-backed, lanky horse that will tend to develop and fill-out over time.

SCRAPE PAINT- When a jockey saves ground with his mount on the inside rail.

SCRATCH- To be taken 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.

SEEDY TOE- Separation of the horse’s hoof wall from the underlying sensitive laminae at the WHITE LINE, resulting in a cavity that fills with crumbling dirt, HORN, and debris and is prone to infection. Also, WHITE LINE DISEASE.

SELLING RACE- A claiming race.

SESAMOID- Bones located at the back of the fetlock (ankle), the joint formed by the pastern bone and the cannon bone.

SET- A group of horses working together.

SET DOWN- A suspension. Also, put to a drive, or asked to run by a jockey.

SEVEN FURLONGS- Seven-eighths of a mile; 1,540 yards; 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- Usually a roll made of sheepskin that is placed half way up the horse’s head to keep him from seeing his own shadow.

SHANK- Rope or strap attached to a halter or bridle by which a horse is led.

SHED ROW- Stable area. A row of stalls in a barn.

SHORT- A horse in need of more work or racing to reach winning form.

SHOW- Third position at the finish.

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

SHUT OFF- Pocketed. Unable to improve position.

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

SIMULCAST- Televising a race to other tracks, OTB offices, or other outlets for the purpose of wagering.

SIRE- Father of a horse.

SIX FURLONGS- Three-quarters of a mile; 1,320 yards; 3,960 feet.

SIXTEENTH- One-sixteenth of a mile; 110 yards; 330 feet.

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

SLOW- Footing that is not fast; between good and heavy.

SNUG- Mild restraining hold by rider.

SOLID HORSE- Contender.

SOPHOMORE- Three-year-old horse.

SPEEDY CUT- Injury to knee or hock caused by a strike from the opposite foot.

SPIT BOX- Designated area, typically on the backside of a racetrack, where urine and blood are taken from a horse for post race testing.

SPIT THE BIT- When a horse quits running against the bit, usually because of fatigue; often said disdainfully: “Luck Lady really spit out the bit.”

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

STAKE- A race for which owner must pay up a fee to run a horse. The fees can be for nominating, maintaining eligibility, entering, and starting, to which the track adds more money to make up the total purse. 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; has not been gelded.

STALL WALKER- Horse that moves about its stall and frets rather than rests.

STANDING (or STABLE) BANDAGE- Consists of padding wrapped around the legs using an exterior bandage traditionally made of flannel that protect a horse’s legs, tendons, and ligaments while it is in the stall. Typically, a variety of liniments are applied to the horses’ legs prior to its application.

STAR- Small patch of white hair on a horse’s forehead. Also, a credit a horse receives from being forced out of an overcrowded race, giving him priority in future races.

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

STARTING GATE- Mechanical device having partitions (stalls) 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 state-breds.

STAYER- Stout-hearted horse that can race long distances.

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

STEPS UP- A horse moving up in class to meet better runners.

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

STEEPLECHASE- A jumping race over high obstacles.

STICK- A jockey’s whip.

STICKERS- Calks (cleats) on shoes, which give a horse better traction in mud, or on soft tracks.

STOCKED UP (or STOCKING UP)- A term used to describe a horses’ legs that have swelling (edema), typically below the knee. Once the horse is allowed to move around, e.g. on the racetrack or in a paddock, the swelling subsides.

STOCKINGS- White legs below the knees.

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

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

STRETCH RUNNER- Horse who finishes fast.

STRETCH TURN- Bend of track into homestretch.

STRIDE- Manner of going. Also, distance covered after each foot has touched the ground once.

STRIP- Markings of a horse. White hairs running partway down the face.

STRIPE- A white marking running down a horse’s face to bridge of nose or below.

STUD- Male horse used for breeding. Also, a breeding farm.

STUD BOOK- Registry and genealogical record of the breeding of Thoroughbreds maintained by The Jockey Club.

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

SUCKLING- Thoroughbred still nursing.

SUSPEND (or SUSPENSION)- Punishment for infraction of rules. Offender denied privileges of racetrack for specified period of time. If permanently suspended: RULED OFF.

SWAYBACK- An abnormal sagging of the spine


TACK- Riders’ racing equipment. Also applied to stable gear.

TAKE (or TAKEOUT)- Commission deducted from mutuel pools which is shared by the track and local and state governing bodies in the form of tax.

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.

TELETHEATER- Special facility for showing simulcast races.

THRUSH- Inflammation of the cleft of the frog.

TIGHT- Ready to race.

TIMBER TOPPER- Jumper or steeplechase horse. More properly horses jumping over timber fences.

TONGUE STRAP- Strap or tape bandage used to tie down a horse’s tongue to prevent it from getting over the bit in a race or workout. Also known as a TONGUE TIE.

TOP LINE- Thoroughbred’s breeding on his sire’s side. Also, in a horse’s conformation, the muscles that support the spine, from neck to hindquarters.

TOPWEIGHT- Highest weight assigned or carried in a race.

TOTALISATOR- Machine which sells and records betting tickets and shows odds. It also figures out and displays payoff figures.

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.

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.

TURN DOWN- A protrusion on the heel portion of a horseshoe added to give traction.

TWITCH- A device usually consisting of a stick with a loop of rope at one end, which is placed around a horse’s nose and upper lip and twisted to curb fractiousness.

“THREE LIFETIME”- A condition for a race for a horse that has not won three races in its career.

“TWO LIFETIME”- A condition for a race for a horse that has not won two races in its career.


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

UNDERLAY- A horse racing at shorter odds than he should.

UNDER PUNISHMENT- Horse being whipped and driven.

UNDER WRAPS- Horse under stout restraint in a race or workout.

UNTRIED- Not raced or tested for speed. Also a stallion that has not been bred.

UNWIND- Gradually withdrawing a horse from intensive training. Also known as LET DOWN.


VALET- Person who attends riders and keeps their wardrobe and equipment in order. Pronounced VAL-LET.


WALK HOTS- To cool a horse out after a workout or race.

WALKOVER- Race which scratches down to only one starter who merely gallops required distance. A formal gesture required by rules of racing.

WARMING UP- Jogging or galloping horse on way to post.

WASHY- Horse breaking out in nervous sweat before race. Also known as WASHED OUT.

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

WEAVING- Swaying motion in stall, or act of threading way through the field in a 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. Also called BAT, GAD, STICK, and CROP.

WHITE LINE DISEASE- A fungal infection of the hoof. It will begin either as a splitting of the wall of a horse’s hoof at the WHITE LINE (inner layer that is soft and fibrous), or as an infection surrounding the nail holes of a horseshoe. Also known as stall rot, hollow foot, wall THRUSH, and SEEDY TOE.

WINDED- Breathing with difficulty after workout or race.

WINDPUFFS- Windpuffs are soft, fluid-filled swellings toward the back of the fetlock joint, resulting from inflamed deep digital flexor tendon sheaths. Most commonly, these puffy enlargements are symptomless blemishes—old and cold—the result of years of hard work.

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

WITHERS- The highest point of a horse’s shoulder.

WOBBLER- A neurological disease due to compression of the spinal cord. Seen principally in 2-year-olds and 3-year-olds.

WORK- To exercise a horse. A workout.


XYLAZINE- Is a sedative and analgesic as well as a muscle relaxant used in horses to produce a state of sedation accompanied by a shorter period of analgesia. Typically used as a type of sedative by veterinarians for injections, X-rays, or other medical procedures. Also know by its generic name, ROMPUN.


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.


Z BAR SHOE- Type of horseshoe used as a remedy for alleviating QUARTER CRACKS.
































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