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Betting on horses

Betting On Horse Racing Basic Terminology

Enjoy the experience of betting at Heritage Sports!

Horse racing has its own language is a language that covers all aspects of racing. Here is some the basic horse racing lingo


Across the Board – A win, place and show bet on the same horse.
Box – An exotic bet where all possible combinations are covered for a group of two or more horses.
Exotic Wagers – Any wager other than straight win, place and show bets.
Key Horse – The primary horse used in exotic bets. Horses may be keyed to win, place, or show.
Pool – The total of all money bet on a specific wager type.
Probable Payoffs – The current exotic wager payoffs, from all possible winning horse combinations, from active betting pools.
Wheel – The selection of one horse in conjunction with betting every possible combination with that horse in an exotic wager.
Will Pays – The actual payoffs of exotic multiple race wagers (Daily Double, Pick 3, and Pick 4), shown before the final race, of all possible winning horse number combinations.

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Types of Horse Races

Allowance – A non-claiming race with special entry conditions.
Claiming – A race in which the horses are for sale at a predetermined price. Horses are claimed prior to the running of the race, but the new owner does not assume control of the horse until after the race has been run.
Derby – A stakes for three-year old horses.
Distaff – A race for female horses.
Handicap – A race, usually a stakes race, where horses are assigned weights to be carried based on the conditions of the race.
Maiden – A race for non-winners.
Marathon – A race at a distance of 1-1/4 mile or longer.
Oaks – A stakes race for three-year old fillies.
Route – A race at a distance of one mile or longer.
Sprint – A race at a distance less than one mile.
Stakes – A high-level race contested by horses of high quality.

Thoroughbred Classifications

Broodmare – Female horses used for breeding.
Broodmare Sire – A sire whose female offspring became producers of racehorses.
Colt – A non-gelded male horse less than five years of age.
Dam – The mother of a horse.
Filly – A female horse less than five years of age.
Foal – A baby horse. A horse is a foal from the time it is born until January 1 of the next calendar year.
Gelding – A castrated male horse.
Horse – A non-gelded male horse five years of age or older.
Juvenile – a two-year old horse.
Maiden – A horse that is yet to win a race.
Mare – A female horse five years of age or older.
Sire – The father of a horse.
Stallion – Any non-gelded male horse.
Stud – A male horse used for breeding.
Yearling – A one-year old horse.

Track Conditions

Fast – A dirt track that is dry, even, resilient and fast.
Wet Fast – A track with a firm base, but a wet surface, due to recent rain.
Good – A track condition between fast and slow. There is generally a significant amount of water in a good track.
Muddy – A racetrack that is wet to the base, but does not have standing water.
Off Track – Any track that is not fast.
Sloppy – A track that is wet on the surface, with standing water, but that has a firm base.
Slow – A slow track is wet on both the surface and base.

Miscellaneous Horse Racing Terms

Apprentice Jockey – A jockey who has ridden for less than a year and who receives weight allowances.
Beyer Speed Figure (Beyer Speed Rating) – A measure of performance popularized by horseracing author Andrew Beyer.
Blinkers – Hood worn by a horse to help maintain focus straight ahead.
Bounce – A poor performance by a horse following an exceptionally good performance.
Bug – A weight allowance given to an apprentice rider.
Bullet – The fastest workout of the day at a particular distance.
Call to Post – The bugle call used to signal the horses onto the racetrack.
Chalk – Betting favorite in the race.
Checked – The act of a horse being pulled up briefly by its jockey to avoid trouble.
Closer – A horse that does its best running in the later stage of a race.
Dead Heat – The act of two horses having a tie. Dead heats can occur for any placing in a race.
Entry – Two or more horses representing one betting interest.
Field – The horses in a race.
Fraction – The split time and distance of a race. Fractions are normally clocked in ¼ mile intervals.
Furlong – 220 yards, or 1/8 of a mile.
Hand – Four inches. A horse’s height is measured in hands and inches from the top of the shoulder to the ground.
Handicapping – The art/science of analyzing information found in the past performances for the purpose of determining the relative ability of horses in a race.
Handle – Total money wagered.
Lasix – The brand name of the drug Furosemide, which is used to prevent pulmonary bleeding.
Length – A measurement approximating the length of a horse from nose to tail, about 8 feet, used to denote distance between horses in a race.
Morning Line – A prediction of the odds for each horse set by the track handicapper prior to the opening of wagering.
Mutuel Window – The place, on track, where bettors place their wagers.
Odds On – Odds of less than even money.
Pacesetter – The horse that is running in front during a race.
Paddock – The structure or area where horses are saddled and kept prior to entering the track.
Pari-mutuel – A system of wagering where all of the money is pooled and then returned to the bettors after a deduction (takeout).
Post Position – The position in the starting gate where a horse begins the race.
Purse – Money paid to the top 5 finishers in a race.
Scratch – The removal of a horse from a race at any point prior to the start.
Silks – The jacket and cap worn by the jockey.
Simulcast – A simultaneous live television transmission of a race to other tracks, off-track betting offices, or other betting outlets.
Stalker – A horse that runs just behind the leaders.
Stewards – The officials responsible for overseeing the racing at a track, ensuring fairness, enforcing the rules of racing, and dispensing punishment for rules infractions.
Valet – An assistant who helps keep a jockeys wardrobe (silks) and equipment in order.
Weight – The impost that a horse is required to carry in a race. The assigned weight includes the jockey, equipment and supplemental weighting as required.
Winners Circle – An enclosure near the track where the winning horse and jockey go to have their picture taken with the horse’s owner and trainer.
Wire – The finish line.
Workout – An exercise run, usually conducted in the morning.

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Categories: Racebook