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Glossary

Age – Thoroughbreds all use the 1st of January as their birthday, regardless of actual birth date.

All Out – When a horse is running at their absolute limit, the best they can.

Allowances – Changes in the weigh requirements. These attempt to level the field. A filly racing against colts, or a horse running with an apprentice jockey for example will have an allowance.

Barrier – Also known as the Tape. This elastic band retracts when released, signaling the start of the race.

Blind Bet – This bet is made by someone who is attempting to disguise a large bet on another horse. The goal is to avoid a large change in the odds that would tip off other bettors.

Blinkers – Small cups attached to the bridle. These limit the horse’s vision to avoid distraction.

Breakage – The percentage of pennies left over when calculating parimutuel payoffs. These are rounded down.

Breakdown – A career ending injury.

Claiming Race – Horses entered into this type of race are eligible for purchase at a preset price. Even if the horse is purchased, the previous owner receives any prize money for that race, however the new owner assumes ownership the moment the starting gate opens.

Close (US) – “starting price” (UK). These are the final odds, after no more bets are accepted before the race is run.

Colors – These refer to the colors the jockey wears on their racing silks.

Dead Heat – Two or more horses reach the finish line at the same time.

Declared – In the US, this horse has been withdrawn from the race. In the UK, the horse has been confirmed to run in the race.

Derby – Any stakes race limited to 3 year old horses.

Distance – This can be the length of the entire race, or the distance between the winning horse and the second place horse measured in lengths, a head, or a nose.

Favorite – The most bet on horse in the race. Always has the lowest odds.

Furlong – 1/8th of a mile, or 200 meters.

Gait – Harness races are divided by gait. A gait is how a horse moves its legs. Pacers move their legs laterally while trotters move their legs diagonally.

Graded Race – A method of classifying stakes races in order of quality of the field. For example the Kentucky Derby is a Grade I race.

Hand – The measurement used to tell how tall a horse is by measuring from the ground to the boney protrusion at the top of their shoulder. A hand is 4 inches, and a thoroughbred is typically 15 to 17 hands high.

Handicap – a type of race where the track handicapper assigns what weights to be carried by each horse.

Head – The distance between horses, about the length of the head of the horse.

In The Money – When a horse finishes from 1st to sometimes 4th, depending on what places pay out money to the bettors.

Length – This measurement is about 8 feet, which is approximately the distance from the tip of a horse’s nose to their rump.

Photo Finish – a race finishing so close that a photo must be used to tell who won.

Program – A guide to the day’s races including past statistics and track information.

Purse – A prize race in which horse owners do not contribute to the prize awarded to the winner, unlike a stakes race.

Scratch (Scratching) – or “Withdrawn” A horse removed from the race. Can be for any reason, and a veterinarian can scratch a horse at any time.

Sulky – (The Sulky) – The small cart pulled by horses racing in harness races.

Yearling – A horse in the second year of it’s life. See “Age”.