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Popular Horse Racing Terms A - D
Horse Racing has its own language, as do many other sports. People in the know or those who work the backstretch or gamble on horse races may speak a foreign language to you. Here you can learn many of the terms that make horse racing the "Sport Of Kings".
Action: A horse's manner of moving. A horse may be said to have "a smooth action".

Added money: Money added, usually by the racing association, to nomination and entry fees.

ADW: Stands for Advanced Deposit Wagering, refers mostly to online wagering hubs and websites.

Agent: A person who handles a jockey's riding assignments. Jockey agents are usually colorful characters with lots of spunk and personality. Generally the top jockeys have the top agents.

All Bet: Means that you are using every horse in the race in some form of combination. Such as 4/all/all in the tri-fecta, meaning that if #4 wins you have every horse for 2nd and 3rd.

All Weather Racing (AWT): Most racecourses outside America consider dirt racing to be all weather racing. A dirt or similar surface such as tapeta or other synthetic is commonly known as an AWT (All Weather Track).

Allowance race: A non-claiming race for which weight assignments, or allowances, are determined according to published conditions.

Also eligible(AE): In an overflow field, the horses that can draw into the race if there's a scratch.

Also ran: A horse that doesn't finish in the top trio.

Apprentice: A jockey who has been riding for less than a year or who hasn't won at least 45 races. Horses ridden by apprentices are allowed to carry five less pounds, sometimes more.

Apron: Area between the grandstand and the track.

At The Post: A term meaning that all horses are secure in the starting gate and ready for the race to begin. Post Time equals race time.

Baby: A 2-year-old, especially early in the year. Also referred to as a juvenile.

Baby race: A race for 2-year-olds, usually at short distances in the spring and summer. Also Juvenile Race.

Backside: The stable area.

Backstretch: The straightaway opposite the homestretch, usually from the three-quarter-mile pole to the three-eighths pole.

Bad actor: A horse that repeatedly misbehaves and proves troublesome.

Bandages: In a race, bandages are sometimes used for support or protection. 

Bar shoe: A protective horseshoe that has a bar enclosing it to help support the heel of the hoof.

Bay: A horse color, varying from tan to bright auburn, with the mane and tail black.

Bear in or out: To deviate from a straight course.

Beyer number, or speed figure: A quantitative measure of performance that appears in The Daily Racing Form, so-called because the numbers were refined and popularized by Andy Beyer. It is supposed to measure how fast a horse really ran, as opposed to just final times. The higher the number is supposedly better, with any number over 100 being stellar. A word of caution though, it is far from infallible and should only be one of many tools used in handicapping.

Big Red:
Nickname applied to two famous chestnuts: Man o' War and Secretariat.

Bill Daly: The lead, so named for a famous trainer who used to instruct jockeys to go to the lead at the start and improve their position.

Bit: A stainless steel, rubber or aluminum bar attached to the bridle and fitting in the horse's mouth; used to guide and control the horse.

Black: The color of some horses.

Black type: Boldface type used in sales catalogs to identify horses that have won or placed in stakes races.

Blanket Finish: Horses finishing so closely in a race that they could be covered by a “blanket.”

Bleeder: A horse that suffers exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhaging.
Such horses might slow abruptly when their breathing is inhibited.
The condition can sometimes be controlled, the effects mollified, with the diuretic Lasix (Salix).

Blew the turn: means the horse did not corner properly going into the turn, ran wide and most likely had a disastrous finish.


Blinkers: A hood made of fabric, with cups sewn onto the eye openings. The hood is fitted to the horse's head. The cups force the horse to look straight ahead, removing any visual distractions during races.

Bloodline: A horse's pedigree, basically his/her lineage. This information is kept for many generations to prove a race horses bloodlines are pure.

Blow-out: A short, brisk workout.

"Blue Hen" Mare: A mare which is a prolific producer of quality offspring. In addition, her sons and/or daughters also have a significant impact on the breed; i.e., Grey Flight, La Troienne.

Bobbled: Took a bad step, often times at the start of the race.

Body Parts of the Horse: A list of parts and appendages of the horse such as hoof, fetlock, mane, muzzle, etc.

Boil-over: Reference to a longshot winner and unexpected outcome of a race. Also a reference to a heavy favorite losing.

Bolt: To veer suddenly out of control.

Bolted In: Won with complete authority.

Bolter: A big longshot.

Bomber: A reference to a long shot winner. A winner at high odds.

Book: 1) The group of mares bred to a stallion in a particular year.
2) A jockey's commitments as handled by his agent.

Bounce: An unusually poor performance following an unusually good one.

Bowed tendon: Severe strain of the superficial flexor tendon between the knee and ankle, so named because of the bowed appearance resulting from swelling.

Box Seat: To sit right behind the front runners, in a perfect position.

Boxed / Boxed in:  Surrounded by horses with no where to go. Lacked running room during the race.

Break: Start of a horse race.

Breakage: The money the track retains after the payoffs are rounded off to a nickel / dime on the dollar. An extra little fee for the track.

Breakdown: A horse that suffers a serious injury is said to break down.

Break maiden: Winning for the first time.

Breeder: Owner of a pregnant mare at the time she delivers the foal (baby horse of either sex).

Breeders' Cup: Multi-race event held at the end of the year in America to determine the champion horses by divisions. The finale is the featured Breeders Cup Classic which often determines the horse of the year. Millions of dollars are up for grabs in these Breeders Cup races.

Breeze: A workout at moderate speed.

Bridge jumper: Someone who wagers a large sum, usually to show, on a short-priced favorite; so called because of the immediate impulse that follows the loss of such a wager.

 Broke Down: Suffered an injury during the race. Usually a break or something similar.

Broke In Air: Came out of the starting gate with his front legs up high and off balance. Lunged up high at the break.

Broke Poorly: Was away slowly from the starting gate. Did not break with the field.

Bucked shins: Inflammation to the area covering the front of the cannon bone; common among young horses in training.

Bug boy:
An apprentice jockey. A new jockey with little experience riding in races.

Bullet Workout:
The fastest workout of the morning at a particular distance.

A small racetrack with tight turns.

Bute: Short for phenylbutazone, an anti-inflammatory medication.

Buzzer: A handheld device similar to a cattle prod that can be hidden inside a jockeys whip or equipment. Basically a way for the jockey to try and cheat by jolting his mount.

Calks, or mud calks: Cleat-like projections on the rear shoes, often used to prevent slipping on a muddy surface.
Also called stickers.

Chalk: The betting favorite.

Check: To slow a horse momentarily to avoid traffic or collision.

Chefs-de-race: Prepotent sires that have been especially influential.
The chefs are classified as brilliant, intermediate, classic, solid and professional, according to whether their influence is predominantly speed or stamina.

Chestnut: 1) A horse color that can vary from red-yellow to deep red.
2) One of the light-colored, irregular growths on the inside of a horse's legs; also called night eyes.

Chute: The extension of the backstretch or homestretch where seven-furlong or 10-furlong races often begin at most tracks; also used in quarter-horse racing.

Circuit: A geographical grouping of tracks whose race meetings are coordinated to run in succession.

Claiming race: A race in which the horses are literally for sale.
Any claims must be made before the race, and the new owner assumes possession following the race.

Claim box: The box in which claim certificates are deposited.

Class: Class is the quality of competition that the horse competes in. A horse that is said to be "the Class" or "Classy" will be the one that has raced against the best competition previously. A graded stakes winner fits the bill as "a Classy individual. (Back Class: Means that the horse has prior experience against quality runners and therefore should be respected.)

Classic: Used to refer to a few traditionally significant races, such as the Kentucky Derby.
In America, the classic distance is 1 & 1/4 miles; in Europe it is 1 & 1/2 miles.

Clerk of Scales: The official who oversees the riders' "weighing out" of the jockeys' room for a race and afterward their "weighing in" to assure the horses carry the proper weight.

Climbing: Most often happens with young or inexperienced racehorses. During a race the horse holds its head head and legs high as well, compromising it's stride. Normally caused by dirt kicked in it's face by other runners. Most horses will adjust to this rapidly and in future races will no longer be affected.

Clocker: A person who times workouts and races.

Closer: A horse that does its best running in the closing stages of a race.

Clubhouse turn: The turn after the finish line.

Colic: Abdominal pain, often caused by a twist or obstruction in the intestine; the leading cause of death in horses.

Colors: Racing silks.

Colt: An ungelded male horse 4 years old or younger.

Condition book: The book that sets forth the possible races with their conditions for which horses can be entered.

Conformation: A horse's physical makeup.

Consolation double: A daily double payoff for the winner of the first race with a late scratch in the second. 

Coupled: Two horses are coupled when they run as an entry, or single betting interest.

Course: Specific section of track used for racing. Most racecourses have more than one "course" proper. For example a dirt course and a turf course. Santa Anita has a unique, downhill turf course. Belmont Park has an inner and outer turf (known as the widener) course.

Cool out: Return to normal body temperature after a workout or race.

Cribber: A horse that habitually grips objects with its teeth and sucks air into its stomach.

Crop: 1) A group of horses born in the same year.
2) Number of foals by a particular stallion in a given year.

Cuppy: Track condition characterized by a loose surface. Also an overused excuse by many trainers of why their horse ran poorly.

Cushion: The top layer of the racing surface.

Daily Racing Form: Daily publication that includes past performances and charts.

Dam: The female parent.

Dark day: A day of no racing.

Dark Horse: A "dark horse" is a term used to reference a horse that may have a chance to win the race, yet is flying slightly under the radar of most prognosticators.

Dead heat: A tie.

Dead Money: A horse that looks hopeless with no chance of winning the race.

Degenerate Horseplayer / Gambler: A bettor that can't stop no matter what. A born loser.

Derby: A significant stakes race for 3-year-olds may be called such, as in the Lone Star Derby.

Disqualification: A change in the order of finish, by the stewards' ruling and often following an objection or inquiry, because of a rules infraction.

Distaff: Female; e.g. the Breeders' Cup Distaff is for fillies and mares.

Distanced: So badly beaten as to lose contact with the field.

Dogs: Cones or wooden barriers used to prevent horses from working or galloping close to the inner rail, usually used following heavy rains.

Dosage System: Pedigree analysis based on the presence of chefs-de-race in the first four generations; popularized in recent years by Steven Roman.

Dosage Index: In the dosage system, the ratio of speed to stamina in a horse 's pedigree.
A low number suggests an inclination toward stamina.

A DI of 4.00 or less suggests a horse can likely perform at the classic distance, according to Roman's analysis.

DNF: Stands for did not finish the race. Pulled up, eased or broke down.

Drop (Class Drop, Dropping in Class): Moving down in class, from a higher racing class against better horses, to a lower class.

Dropped: Foaled.

Dwelt: Remained in the starting gate long after the jockey, starter and prudence suggested leaving.
Popular Horse Racing Terms E - H