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Racebook Glossary


A race meeting that has been canceled because a club did not receive sufficient nominations to be able to stage it or due to bad weather that made racing on the track unsafe.

All Age Race
A race for two-year-olds and up.

A runner officially listed to start in a race.

Also known as a Parlay, is a multiple bet that involves making concurrent selections on two or more races with the intent of passing the winnings of the first win on the bet for the following race selected, and so on. All the selections must win in order to win the accumulator.

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.

All thoroughbreds count January 1 as their birth date.

All Age Race
A race for two-year-olds and up.

All Out
A horse who is trying to the best of its ability.

Allowance Race
A race other than claiming for which the racing secretary drafts certain conditions to determine weights.

Weight permitted to be reduced because of the conditions of the race or because an apprentice is on a horse. Allowances also occur when a female horse is racing against males or three-year-olds racing against older horses.

All Weather Racing
Racing that takes place on an artificial surface.

Also Ran
Any horse racing that did not finish 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th in a race or event.

(Rider) on racecards, their names are prefixed by Mr., Mrs., Captain, etc, to indicate their amateur status.

A trainee jockey. An apprentice will usually ride only flat races.

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.

The approximate price a horse is quoted at before a race begins. Bookmakers use these approximates as a guide to set their boards.

Where a variation in odds available allows a punter to back both sides and guarantee a win.

Artificial Turf

Against The Spread

All weather track


Baby Race
A race for two-year-olds.

To bet or wager on a horse.

A ‘backed’ horse is one that has a lot of bets placed on it.

Backed In
A horse that is backed-in means that bettors have outlaid a lot of money on that horse, with the result being a decrease in the odds offered.

Back Marker
In a standing start event, which is handicapped, the horse that is given the biggest handicap is known as the back marker.

Bar Stretch
The straight away on the far side of the track.

Back Straight
Also known as a Tape is a starting device used in steeplechasing consisting of an elastic band stretched across the racetrack, which retracts when released.

A horse that is either too young or not fully fit.

Also known as the Key, is the horse highly expected to win. The strongest horse in a multiple selection bet – a parlay or accumulator. In variation bets, the banker is a selection that must win to guarantee any returns.

Bar Price
Refers to the odds of those runners in a race not quoted with a price during early betting shows. The bar price is the minimum odds for any of those selections not quoted.

Also known as a Tape is a starting device used in steeplechasing consisting of an elastic band stretched across the racetrack, which retracts when released.

Barrier Draw
The ballot held by the race club to decide which starting stall each runner will occupy.

That can also be referred to as the Stick is a jockey’s whip.

Bearing In/Out
Failing to maintain a straight course; veering to the left or right. Can be caused by injury, fatigue, outside distraction, or poor riding.

Bell Lap
In harness racing, the last lap of a race, indicated by the ringing of the bell.

A wager normally involving the exchange of monies.

Betting Board
A board used by the bookmaker to display the odds of the horses engaged in a race.

Betting Ring
The main area at a racecourse where the bookmakers operate.

Is a person who places or has a bet.

Beyer Number
A handicapping tool, popularized by author Andrew Beyer, assigning a numerical value to each race run by a horse based on final time and track condition. This enables different horses running at different racetracks to be objectively compared.

A favorite horse that the bookmakers do not expect to win.

Blanket Finish
When the horses finish so close to the winning line you could theoretically put a single blanket across them making it hard to determine the order of finish.

Blind Bet
A bet made by a racetrack bookmaker on another horse to divert other bookmakers’ attention away from his sizeable betting on their main horse thus to avoid a shortening of the odds on the main horse.

A cup-shaped device applied over the sides of the horse’s head, near its eyes, in order to limit itsvision. This prevents the horse from swerving away from distracting objects or other horses on either side. Blinker cups come in a variety of sizes and shapes to allow as little, or as much, vision, as the trainer feels, is appropriate.

Short for ‘Tote Board’ on which odds, betting pools, and other race information are displayed.

A winning horse sent off at very high odds.

A wagering term denoting a combination bet whereby all possible numeric combinations are covered.

Boxed (In)
To be trapped between other horses.

A bad step away from the starting gate, sometimes caused by the groundbreaking away from under a horse and causing him to duck its head or go to his knees.

When a horse suddenly veers from a straight course.

Breeders’ Cup
Is the Thoroughbred racing’s year-end championship that was first run in 1984. Breeders’ Cup Day consists of eight races that are conducted on one day but at a different racetrack each year with purses and awards totaling of $13 million.

Bridge Jumper
A bettor who makes large show bets on short-priced favorites.

Brood Mare
Is a female thoroughbred used for breeding.

Bug Boy
An apprentice rider.

Bull Ring
Small racetrack less than one mile around.


Projection on the bottom of a shoe to give the horse better traction, especially on a wet track.

Is the betting favorite in a race. This term dates back to the days when on-track bookmakers would write current odds on a chalkboard.

Chalk Player
Is a bettor who places bets on favorites.

A horse pulled up by his jockey for a moment because he is in tight quarters or cut off.

An extension of the backstretch or homestretch to permit for a longer straight run.

A horse that runs best in the latter part of the race (closing race), coming from off the pace.

Where three or more competitors share the position of favorite.

The Racing silks – the jacket and cap – worn by jockeys. These silks can be generic and provided by the track or explicit to one owner.

A male horse four-years-old or younger.

Combination Bet
A multiple bet – selecting more than one horse to finish first and second in either order.

Correct Weight
Horses are allocated a weight to carry that is checked before and, for at least the place getters, after a race. Correct weight must be indicated before bets can be paid out.

The Trophy awarded to owners of winners, as well as term that refers to the distance race of a mile and a half or more.

Cup Horse
One qualified to engage in distance races.

The surface of track or a layer of the track.


Daily Double
Type of wager that involves the selection of winners of two consecutive races, usually the first and second.

Daily Racing
Form A daily newspaper containing racing information including news, past performance data and handicapping.

Dead Heat
When two or more horses finish equally – a tie – in a race.

Dead Track
Racing surface lacking resiliency.

Declaration of Weights
The publication of weights billed to each horse designated for a race by the handicapper.

In the United States, this term refers to a horse withdrawn from a stakes race in advance of scratch time. Where as in Europe this term refers to a horse confirmed to start in a race.

When a horse is scratched from a race after betting on that race has already started, deductions are taken out of the win and place bets at a rate in proportion to the odds of the scratched horse.

A stakes event for three-year-olds.

The length of a race – the minimum of which is 5 furlongs and the longest is the 4 1/2 miles of the Grand National. In addition, the margin by which a horse wins or is beaten by the horse in front is also considered the distance. This ranges from a ‘short head’ to ‘by a distance’ (more than 30 lengths); a ‘length’ is measured from the horse’s nose to the start of its tail.

Well beaten, finishing a long distance behind the winner.

The amount that a winning or placed horse returns for every $1 bet by the bettor.

Also, known as Ease are odds that ‘Lengthen’, or are said to have drifted, or be ‘On The Drift’.

Is the strong urging by the rider.


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

Referred to when a horse runs or wins without being pressed by rider or opposition.

Eclipse Award
Thoroughbred racing’s year-end awards, honoring the top horses in 11 separate categories.

A furlong; 220 yards; 660 feet.

Qualified to start in a race, according to conditions.

The area where the Runners gather for viewing before and after the race.

Two or more horses owned by the same stable or even in some cases that are trained by the same trainer and thus running as a single betting unit.

Stake nomination or riding commitment.

Whip, blinkers, and so forth. The gear carried by a horse in a race.

Equivalent Odds
Mutuel price horses would pay for each $1 bet.

Neither gaining nor losing position or distance during a race.

Even Money Bet
1:1 bet. A $10 wager wins $10.

A wager that picks the first two finishers in a race in the exact order of finish.

Exacta Box
A wager in which all possible combinations using a given number of horses are covered.

Exotic Bet/Wager
Is any wager other than win, place or show.

The amount of money one actually stands to lose on a game or race.

When a horse is forced to run at top speed.


False Favorite
A horse that is a race favorite despite being outclassed by others.

A horse that was in contention early in the race but drops back in the late stages.

Fast Track
The optimum condition for a dirt track that is dry, even, resilient and fast.

The most popular horse in a race, which is quoted at the lowest odds because it is deemed to have the best chance of winning the race.

Feature Races
Top races.

The running rail of a racetrack. The inside fence is the inside running rail around the race track, while the outside fence is the outside running rail.

All the horses running in a race.

Is a female horse four-years-old or younger.

Firm Track
The state of a turf course – a firm, resilient surface.

First Up
The first run a horse has in a new campaign or preparation.

Fixed Odds
What you won or lost last week or the amount in your account; or, an amount owed to or by a bookmaker.

Flat Race
Contested on level ground as opposed to a steeplechase.

Flatten Out
When a horse drops his head almost in a straight line to its body, by and large from exhaustion.

A baby horse, either a male or female, is considered a foal from birth to January 1st of the following year. All racehorses are given the nominal birthday of January 1st. Thus, a two-year-old born in June and one born in January of the same year are considered to be of the same age for the purposes of satisfying the conditions of some races re: weight carried. In reality, the January horse may be considered to have a significant advantage in terms of physical development at this early stage in its career.

The statistics of prior performances and comments as to the expected current performance of a runner, useful in deciding which runner to bet on.

Form Player
A bettor who makes selections from past-performance records.

Front Runner
A horse whose running style is to attempt to get on or near the lead at the start of the race and stay there as long as possible.

Frozen Track
A frozen racetrack.

One-eighth of a mile or 220 yards or 660 feet (approx. 200 meters).

Bets placed well in advance of predicting the outcome of a future event


The manner in which a horse moves its legs when it runs. There are two distinctions -pacers or trotters. The pacer is a horse with a lateral gait, whereas a trotter or square-gaiter has a diagonal gait.

Another term for barrier, or position a horse will start from.

A male horse that has been castrated.

Get On
Have your bet accepted.

The condition of the racecourse (firm, heavy, soft, etc.).

Good Track
The condition between fast and slow, generally a bit wet. A dirt track that is almost fast or a turf course slightly softer than firm.

Graded Race
Established in 1973 to classify select stakes races in North America, at the request of European racing authorities, who had set up group races two years earlier. Always denoted with Roman numerals I, II, or III. Capitalized when used in race title (the Grade I Kentucky Derby).

A horse or rider winning for the first time.

An inexperienced horse.

Group Race
The European equivalent to the Graded Race – an elite group of races. The Group Race was established in 1971 by racing organizations in Britain, France, Germany and Italy to classify select stakes races outside North America. Collectively they are known as ‘Pattern Races’. They are always denoted with Arabic numerals 1, 2, or 3, and capitalized when used in race title (the Group 1 Epsom Derby)


A measuring unit that is four inches. A horse’s height is measured in hands and inches from the top of the shoulder (withers) to the ground, e.g., 16.3 hands is 16 hands, 3 inches. Thoroughbreds typically range from 15 to 17 hands.

Race for which the track handicapper assigns the weights to be carried. Each horse is allocated a different weight to carry, the theory being all horses then run on a fair and equal basis. Handicap is also used in reference to selecting on the basis of past performances.

The official who decides the weights to be carried in handicap events, and the grading of horses and greyhounds.

Hand Ride
The jockey urges a horse with his hands and arms and not the whip.

Hard Track
A condition of a turf course where there is no resiliency to the surface.

The margin between horses when a horse leads another by the length of its head.

Head Of The Stretch
The beginning of the straight run to the finish line.

The wettest possible condition of a turf course, similar to muddy but even slower.

The covering of a bet with a second bet.

High Weight
The highest weight assigned or carried in a race, no less than 140 pounds.

Home Turn
The final turn a horse must travel around before entering the home straight in the run to the finish line.

A broad reference, a ‘horse’ is an ungelded male five-years-old or older.

A horse holding the same position but unable to make up distance on the winner


Weight carried or assigned.

In Foal
A pregnant mare.

In Hand
Running under moderate control, at less than best pace.

A Review into the race in order to check into possible infractions of the rules.

The stirrups.

In The Money
A term that describes the horses in a race that finish 1st, 2nd and 3rd (and sometimes 4th) or the horses on which money will be paid to bettors, depending on the place terms.

In The Red
Are odds shown in red on the betting boards because they are Odds-On bets



Slow, easy gait, trot.

The favorite in a race. The horse with the shortest odds.

The bookmaker’s commission, also known as vigorish or vig.

Steeplechase or hurdle horse.

Two-year-old horse.


Key Horse
The main expected winning horse used in multiple combinations in an exotic wager.


Late Double
A second daily double offered during the latter part of the program. See ‘Daily Double’ above.

Take a bet on, like a Bookmaker.

A measurement approximating the length of a horse from nose to tail, about 8 feet. As well, it is used to denote the distance between horses in a race.

The opposite of ‘Shorten’. Referred to odds getting longer, that is, more attractive to the bettor.

Listed Race
A stakes race just below a group race or graded race in quality.

Slang term used to refer to an almost certain winner. Easy winner.

Odds More than 10:1.

A long shot is a horse/runner with high odds and is therefore deemed to have little chance of winning the race.

Lug In/Out
The action of a tiring horse when it bears in or out, failing to keep a straight course.


Can be a horse or rider that has not won a race or a female that has never been bred.

Maiden Race
A race for non-winners.

Female horse five-years-old or older.

The list of all horses engaged in a race and their respective odds.

A collection of races conducted by a club on the same day or night forms a race meeting.

Distance broadly, from one mile to 1-1/8 miles.

Minus Pool
A mutuel pool caused when a 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.

Morning Glory
Horse who performs well in morning workouts but fails to fire in actual races.

Morning Line
Approximate odds quoted before wagering begins.

A horse that races well on muddy tracks. Also known as a ‘Mudlark’.

Muddy Track
A condition of a racetrack that is wet but has no standing water.

Mutuel Pool
Short for ‘Parimutuel Pool’ is the sum of the wagers on a race or event, such as the win pool, daily double pool, exacta pool, etc.


Reputed to stand for ‘Napoleon’ the nap is the selection that racing correspondents and tipsters nominate as their strongest selection of the day or meeting.

National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA)
A non-profit, membership organization created in 1997 to improve economic conditions and public interest in Thoroughbred racing.

Unit of measurement about the length of a horse’s neck.

The action of lowering of the head. To win by a nod, a horse extends its head with its nose touching the finish line ahead of a close competitor.

The complete list of runners entered by owners and trainers for a race.

The smallest advantage by which a horse can win by.


A recognized stakes event for three-year-old fillies (females).

An assertion of a foul lodged by rider, judge, owner, or other officials after the running of a race. When it is lodged by an official, it is called an inquiry.

The sportsbook’s or bookmaker’s view of the chance of a competitor winning (adjusted to include a profit).

Odds Against
Where the odds are greater than even, for example 5:2.

A person who sets the betting odds. Most major sportsbooks use odds set by Las Vegas oddsmakers.

Odds On
Odds of less than even money.

Off The Board
A horse so lightly bet that its pari-mutuel odds exceed 99 to 1. Also, a game or event on which the bookie will not accept action.

Off Track Betting
(OTB) Wagering at legalized betting outlets.

On The Board
Finishing among the first three.

On The Nose
Betting a horse to win only.

On Tilt
Going ‘on tilt’ is losing the ability to rationalize bets and betting wildly on every race.

The money a bettor wagers is called his or her outlay.

Out Of Money
A horse that finishes worse than third.

A horse that is not expected to win. An outsider is usually quoted at the highest odds.

A horse going off at higher odds than it appears to warrant based on its past performances.

Overnight Race
A race in which entries close an explicit number of hours before running, for example, 48 hours, as opposed to a stakes race where nominations close weeks and sometimes months in advance.

Over The Top
When a horse is considered to have reached its peak for that season.

This is the surplus weight carried by a horse when the rider cannot make the assigned weight.


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

Quarter Horse
Breed of horse that is particularly fast for a quarter of a mile, from which its name is derived.


Race Caller
The person who describes the race at a racecourse.

A program for the day’s racing.

A rag or “The Rag” is the outsider in the field, usually offered at a favorable price in the betting.

Rail Runner
A horse that prefers to run next to the inside rail.

Handicappers may determine a set of ratings, taking a number of factors into account when preparing them that reflect, in their opinion, each runner’s chance of winning a particular race.

The winnings you receive on a particular bet.

A horse, or greyhound, entered in a race under another’s name usually a good runner replacing a poorer one.

A horse that is considered to have a ‘rough’ chance of winning a race.

Broadly, a race distance of longer than 1-1/8 miles.

A Horse that performs well at longer distances.

Run Free
A horse going too fast.



The potential in a horse.

To be taken out of a race before it starts. Trainers usually scratch horses due to adverse track conditions or a horse’s adverse health. A veterinarian can scratch a horse at any time.

Second Call
A jockeys’ secondary mount in a race in the event his primary mount is scratched.

The horses selected by a knowledgeable person to have the most likely chance of finishing in first, second, and third place. This may also refer to a person’s own selections the horses they have chosen to back.

Selling Race
A race where the winner is sold by auction immediately afterward.

Shadow Roll
Typically, a lamb’s wool roll half way up the horse’s face to keep him from seeing his own shadow.

The Shortening of odds. When the odds of a horse decrease, usually because a lot of money has been wagered on that horse.

Short Runner
A horse who barely stays, or doesn’t stay, the full distance of a race.

Short Price
Low odds, meaning a bettor will get little return for their initial outlay.

Third position at the finish.

Show Bet
A wager on a horse to finish in the money; third or better.

Shut Out
A term that refers to what happens to a bettor who gets on the betting line too late and is still waiting in line when the window closes. This term is also used in sports betting, when the losing team does not score.

A Straight bet on one selection to win one race or event, also known as a straight-up bet.

Father of a horse.

A sleeper is an underrated racehorse. A horse that unexpectedly wins a race having previously shown poor form is said to have been a Sleeper.

Sloppy Track
A track that is wet on the surface, with standing water visible, with firm bottom.

Slow Track
A racing strip that is wet on both the surface and base. Between good and heavy.

Smart Money
Insiders’ bets or the insiders themselves.

Soft Track
Condition of a turf course with a large amount of moisture. Horses sink very deeply into it.

The resting period between preparations or racing.

Short race, less than one mile.

The prize for the winning horses paid to the owner which can be a trophy, prize money or both.

The sums of money deposited or guaranteed by the parties to a bet.

Stakes Placed
Finished second or third in a stakes race.

Stakes Horse
A horse whose level of competition includes mostly stakes races.

A male horse used for breeding.

The person responsible for starting a race.

Starting Gate
A partitioned mechanical device having stalls in which the horses are confined until the starter releases the doors in front to begin the race.

Starting Price
An estimation of odds available when the race starts.

Starting Stalls
Mechanical gates that ensure all horses start in unison.

Also, referred to as a Slayer is a horse that can race long distances.

When a betting selection starts to move quite rapidly, usually caused by many bettors betting on it.

A race in which horses are required to jump over a series of obstacles on the course. Also known as a ‘Chase’.

Or a bat is a jockey’s whip.

Also known as an attendant, is a person who assists the trainer, cares for the horse or helps to put on its equipment.

Or the home stretch is the final straight portion of the racetrack to the finish.

Stretch Runner
A horse that runs it’s fastest nearing the finish of a race.

Stretch Turn
The bend of the track into the homestretch.

A male horse used for breeding or a breeding farm.

A bet placed on four horses to cross the finish line in exact chosen order.

Sure Thing
A horse which a bettor or handicapper believes is unbeatable in a race.


Taken Up
A horse pulled up sharply by his rider because of being in close quarters.

A Thoroughbred is a horse whose parentage traces back to any of the three ‘Founding Sires’ the Darley Arabian, Byerly Turk and Godolphin Barb, and who has satisfied the rules and requirements of The Jockey Club and is registered in ‘The American Stud Book’ or in a foreign stud book recognized by The Jockey Club and the International Stud Book Committee. Any other horse, no matter what its parentage, is not considered a Thoroughbred for racing and/or breeding purposes.

Thoroughbred Racing Associations (TRA)
An industry group comprised of many of the racetracks in North America.

The picks made by an expert to bet on.

Highest weight assigned or carried in a race.

A person who professes to have, and sells, advance information on a race. Also used as a verb meaning to sell or advertise.

Track Condition
The condition of the racetrack surface. Slow; Fast; good; muddy; sloppy; frozen; hard; firm; soft; yielding; heavy.

Track Record
The fastest time for a distance at a particular track.

The person is responsible for looking after a horse and preparing it to race. A trainer must hold a license or permit to be entitled to train.

A wager picking the first three finishers in exact order.

Trifecta Box
A trifecta wager in which all possible combinations using a given number of horses are bet upon.

Triple Crown
Is a term used generically to denote a series of three important races, but is always capitalized when referring to historical races for three-year-olds. In the United States, it refers to the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. Whereas in England it refers to the 2,000 Guineas, Epsom Derby and St. Leger Stakes.

A term for harness racing in general. It also describes the specific gait of a trotter.

True Odds
The real odds of something happening as opposed to what the bookies offer. Actual odds taking into account the bookmaker’s/sportsbook’s edge. The ratio of the number of times one event will occur to the number of times that it will not.

Turf Course
Is a Grass course.


A horse that is quoted at short odds and that bettors decide is too short to return any reasonable amount for the money they outlay.

A horse racing at shorter odds than seems warranted by its past performances.

Under Wraps
A horse under stout restraint in a race or workout.


Getting the best odds on a wager.


Another term for a bet.

A race in which only one horse competes.

Warming Up
Galloping a horse, jogging it before post time.

Weigh In/Out
The certification, by the clerk of scales, of a rider’s weight before and after a race. A jockey weighs in fully dressed with all equipment except for his/her helmet, whip and, in many jurisdictions, flak jacket.

The purpose of weight-for-age is to allow horses of different age and sex to compete on equal terms. The weight a horse carried is allocated on a set scale according to its sex and age.

Instrument or a stick, usually of leather, with which rider strikes horse to increase his speed.

The term used to describe a 1st place finish.

Win Bet
Is a wager on a horse to finish first.

Winning Post
The finishing line of a race also called ‘The Post’.

The finish line of a race.

Wise Guy
A knowledgeable handicapper or bettor.


A horse in its second calendar year of life, beginning January 1 of the year following its birth.

The condition of a turf course with a lot of moisture Horses sinks into it noticeably.