Racing Glossary


 ACTION- A horse's manner of moving.

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-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.

APPRENTICE ALLOWANCE- Weight concession to an apprentice rider: usually 4kg until the 10th. Winner, 3kg until the 20th.  Winner and 2kg until 40th. Winner, 1kg until the 150th. Winner.


BACKSTRETCH- Straight of far side of track between the turns.

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 my be worn alone.

BAY- Color of horse varying from yellowish tan (light bay) to brown or dark, rich shade of mahogany (sometimes listed as dark bay or brown) with black points- black mane, tail and shadings of black low on the legs.

BIT- Bar in horse's mouth by which he is guided and controlled.

BLACK- Body, head muzzle, flanks and legs are covered with uniform black hair.

BLANKET FINISH- Horses finishing so closely together they could be covered by a blanket.

BLAZE- White patch on face of a horse.

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

BLINKERS- Device to limit a horse's vision to prevent him from swerving from objects or other horses on either side of him.

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

BOLT- Sudden veering from a straight course.

BOWED TENDON - Rupture of the sheath enclosing the tendon from the knee to the fetlock joint.

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.

BROODMARE- Female Thoroughbred used for breeding.

BROWN- Sometimes difficult to separate from black or dark bay. This color can usually be distinguished by noting finer tan or brown hairs on the muzzles or flanks.

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

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


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.

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.

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

CLAIMING RACE- Race in which horses are entered subject to claim for a specified price.

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.

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

COLT- Male horse under 5 years of age.

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.


DAM- Mother of a Thoroughbred.

DEAD-HEAT- Two or more horses finishing in an exact tie at the wire.DEAD TRACK- Racing surface lacking resiliency.

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

DISTANCED- Well beaten, finishing a great distance behind the winner.

DWELT- Tardy in breaking fromthe gate. 


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


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.

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.

FIELD- The horses in a race.

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

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.

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

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

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


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.

GELDING- Castrated male horse.

GOOD TRACK- Condition between fast and slow.

GRADUATE- Winning 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.


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

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 selctions based on past performances.

HEAD- A margin between horses. One horse leading another by the length of his head.

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

HORSE- Broadly, in any Thoroughbred regardless of sex. Specifically, an entire male 5 years old or older.

HUNG- Horse tiring, but holding position.


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

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. 




LAMINITIS- Inflammation under horny wall of foot.


LEAD- Strap attached to halter to lead a horse.

LEG UP- To help a jockey mount his horse. Also a jockey having a mount. Also to strengthen a horse's legs through exercise.

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

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

LUNGE- Horse rearing or plunging. 


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

MAIDEN RACE- A race for non winners.

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

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

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

MUDLARK- Superior mudder.

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


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

NOD- Lowering of head. Winning in that manner.

NOSE- Smallest advantage a horse can win by.


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

OFF SIDE- Right side of horse.

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

ON THE BOARD- Finishing among the first four.

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

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.

PAST PERFORMANCES- A compilation in Daily Racing Form of a horse's record, all pertinent data, as a basis for handicapping.

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

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

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.

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.

PLATES- Shoes horses wear in races. Racing plates.

POST- Starting point or position in starting gate.

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

POST TIME- Designated time from race to start.


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

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. 


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

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

RIDE SHORT- Using short stirrup leathers.

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

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

ROGUE- Ill-tempered horse.


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

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.

SCRATCH- To be taken out of a race.

SECOND DAM- Grandmother; granddam.

SESAMOID- Sesamoid bones are located at the back of the fetlock, the joint formed by the pastern bone and the cannon bone.

SHADOW ROLL- Usually a lamb's wool roll half way up the horse's face to keep him from seeing his own shadow.

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.

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

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

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 (usually a feature 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.

STALLION- Entire male horse.

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

STAR- Small patch of white hair on a horse's forehead.

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.

STAYER- Stout-hearted horse who 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.

STOCKINGS- White legs below the knees.

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

STRIP- Markings of a horse. White hairs running part-way 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 breeding farm.

SUSPENSION- Punishment for infraction of rules. Offender denied privileges to ride races for specified period of time.

Syce- A person who cares for a horse in a stable.

SWAYBACK- Horse with a dipped backbone.  


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

THRUSH- Inflammation of the cleft of the frog.

TONGUE STRAP- Strap or tape bandage used to tie down a horse's tongue to prevent it from choking in a race or workout.

TOPWEIGHT- Highest weight assigned or carried in a race.

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

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

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

TRIAL- Workout.

TRIFECTA - A wager picking the first three finishers in exact order.

TURF COURSE- Grass course.

TURN DOWN- A protrusion on the bottom 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. 



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


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

WARMING UP- Galloping horse on way to post.

WASHY- Horse breaking out in nervous sweat before race.

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

WEAVING- Swaying motion in stall, or act of threading way through field in race.

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

WHIP- Instrument, usually of leather, with which rider strikes horse to increase his speed. Also called bat and gad

WINDSUCKER - A horse which clings to things between it mouth and sucks air,

WINDED- Breathing with difficulty after workout or race.

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. 




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.