Harness Racing Definitions – Impress Your Friends
Acid (Short for Hyaluronic Acid): A viscous polysaccharide with important lubricating properties, present, for example, in the synovial fluid in joints. Constant training and racing causes excessive stress on and inflammation in the knees, hocks, fetlocks and stifle joints of racehorses. This damage produces soreness, lameness, synovitis and, osteoarthritis. In a healthy horse’s joint, articular cartilage covers the bone ends in the interior of the joint and the synovium lines the inside of the joint capsule. In an unhealthy horse, the joints are injected with acid, which replaces the natural lubricant.
Across the Board: A bet on a horse to win (first), place (second), and show (third). Three wagers combined in one. If the horse wins, the player wins all three wagers. If the horse finishes second, the player wins the place and show wager, but loses the win wager. If the horse finishes third, the player wins the show wager, but loses the win and place wager.
Added Money: Money added to a purse by the racing association, sponsors, state breeding programs, or other affiliates.
Aged: A horse of seven years or older.
Allowance Race: A race for which the racing secretary writes various conditions based on the horse’s age, sex, and/or past performance.
Also Eligible (AE): A horse(s) entered into an event but will not race unless other horses are scratched.
Altered (Gelded): Castrated male horse. The testicles are surgically removed. This is usually done to improve the horse’s behavior. Done on horses considered unsuitable for breeding.
Amateur Race: A race involving amateur drivers.
Amish a Horse: Indicating a horse has no value as a racehorse and it will be sold to the Amish as a buggy horse. Not always sold to the Amish.
Anemia: A blood disorder in which the number of red blood cells or the amount of hemoglobin or both are below the normal limits. This is generally not life-threatening but will lower the horse’s performance.
Apron: The area between the grandstand and the racing surface.
Arthroscope: A tiny tube of lenses used for viewing areas inside a joint. Usually attached to a small video camera.
Arthroscopic Surgery: Using an arthroscope to perform surgery, eliminating the need to open the joint with a large incision.
Articular Cartilage: Cartilage that covers the ends of bones where they meet in a joint.
Assistant Trainer: A busy trainer will assign an assistant trainer to help him/her, or to act in his/her absence. Found mainly in larger stables.
Atrial Fibrillation (AF): An electrical disorder of the heart rhythm. A common pathological arrhythmia in horses. With this condition, the atria fails to contract but instead quivers or fibrillates, and impulses are conducted intermittently through the atrioventricular (A-V) node to the ventricles. If the horse is doing intense athletic work, optimum cardiac output is important. Cardiac output is determined by both heart rate and the amount of blood moving out of the ventricles at each heartbeat (stroke volume). AF decreases stroke volume during exercise, resulting in a higher heart rate at each level of exercise. For detailed information, discuss this with your trainer, vet, or search the Internet.
Baby Race: A race for two-year-old’s. Although authentic and regulated, a baby race is generally for educational purposes. A small purse is usually specified.
Backside: The stable area of a racetrack where the barns are located. Usually off limits to the public and non-licensed people.
Backstretch: The portion of the racetrack on the opposite side of the grandstand side or homestretch. The far side of the track.
Bad Actor: Fractious horse. Some horses are genetically predisposed to have attitude problems, while others are caused to become mis-behaved by cruel or impatient trainers, or grooms. Different horses have different personalities – just like people. A good trainer can modify the personality of a horse by the way he/she treats it.
Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate): Trainers sometimes administer large doses of baking soda in what is referred to as a “milkshake.” Milkshakes also contain other ingredients, including electrolytes, sugar, and water. These creative concoctions can illegally boost performance. Administered through the use of a funnel and tube a few hours hours prior to a contest milkshaking increases stamina by buffering lactic acid in muscles. Milkshakes are illegal, thus trainers who use them suffer stiff penalties if caught. Many horsemen use one or two tablespoons of baking soda daily as a tonic, which is legal. This preventive procedure can keep a horse from tying up, including improving the horse’s disposition. Warnings against its use include interference with digestion, colic, or sudden cardiac death.
Bandages: Bandages have multiple uses on horses and are a usual article found in each horse’s tack trunk (equipment box). Bandages are used on horse’s legs for support or protection against injury when jogging, training, or racing. A horse may also wear “standing bandages,” which are thick cotton wraps used during shipping and while in the stall to prevent swelling and/or injury.
Barren: Used to describe a filly or mare that was bred and did not conceive during the last breeding season.
Bay: Color of horse varying from tan to a dark shade of mahogany, sometimes with black manes, tails, and low on the legs.
Bearing In: The action of a horse running towards the rail rather than straight. Also referred to as on the right line because the trainer/driver must put pressure on the right line to keep the horse straight. This imperfection may be dangerous if not corrected. It may be caused by one or multiple problems.
Bearing Out: The opposite of bearing in. The action of a horse running towards the outside of the track, rather than straight. The trainer/driver must put pressure on the left line to keep the horse straight. This flaw may be dangerous if not corrected. It may be caused by one or multiple problems.
Betting Board (Tote Board): The electronic board used by the racetrack to display the odds of the horses engaged in a race.
Bit: A stainless steel, rubber, or aluminum apparatus (sometimes bits use all three materials simultaneously), which is attached to the bridle, and fits into the horse’s mouth over the tongue. The bit is what the trainer/driver uses to steer and control the horse’s speed. There are multiple styles of bits available, each having a specific design. One bit may be more efficient than another for a particular horse. It is the trainer’s responsibility to determine which bit to use. Most of the time it is trial and error.
Black Horse: A specific color. To be considered black, a horse must be principally black, however another color, such as white, is acceptable but non-black colors must be noted on the registration.
Black Type: In a horse’s written pedigree, boldface type is used to distinguish horses that have won or placed in a stakes race. Various people use various criteria to determine what is black type.
Blacksmith: A farrier or a horseshoer.
Blanket: A blanket.
Blanket Finish: When the horses finish so close to the winning line you could theoretically put a single blanket across them.
Blaze: Term describing a large, white vertical marking on a horse’s face.
Bleeder: A horse that bleeds from the lungs when small capillaries that surround the lungs’ air sacs rupture. Blood may be seen coming out of the horse’s nostrils, although it is typically discovered by a fiber optic endoscopic examination after exercise. Hot, humid weather and cold are known to exacerbate the problem. The most common preventative treatment currently available is the use of the diuretic furosemide (Lasix).
Blinds: Short for blind (or closed) bridle. A blind bridle is a bridle that has square pieces a couple inches wide and high that fit at the sides of the bridle cheek pieces used primarily to keep the horse from looking around or for a horse that may be too lazy. One of the most popular bridles.
Blind Switch: A situation in a race where a horse is pocketed behind horses and the driver must decide whether to hope for an opening, go around, or just wait until the next race.
Blinkers: A cup-shaped device applied over the sides of the horse’s head near his eyes to limit his vision. Blinker cups come in a variety of sizes and shapes to allow as little or as much vision as the trainer considers appropriate.
Blister: A topical blister results when a chemical is applied, usually by the trainer, causing an acute inflammation. The theory is that the blister causes blood flow (blood heals) to the affected area, and it is increased blood flow that hastens healing. Internal blisters are also used to heal, but these are usually administered by a veterinarian using a needle and a blistering chemical. Blistering is common.
Bloodline: Pedigree – family lineage. Considered to be one of the most principal factors in choosing a yearling. Adage: The sire brings the buyers, and the dam determines the price.
Blow Out: Expression used to describe a speedy workout to sharpen a horse before a race. This is usually done a day or two before the race but can also be done the day of the race. There is no specific time or rule.
Box a Bet: A type of bet where all combinations of a set of numbers are wagered. If the horses selected all finish the wagerer collects on all. See Across the Board.
Boxed In: A horse that is racing on the rail (fence or pylon) and is surrounded by other horses in front, outside and behind. A horse that is boxed in is held up and unable to gain ground faster than those around it.
Break a Horse: The process of training a young horse to become accustomed to what his job is and the equipment that goes with it. The term break is a misnomer, and it should be replaced with a term more appropriate that indicates the horse is being educated or taught. Some trainers, who like to play cowboy, prefer to “break” rather than educate. It makes for a good show for those who do not understand proper training procedures. Training a horse is an art and not a performance.
Break its Maiden: Phrase used when a horse experiences its first win.
Break (Break stride): In a race or when being trained, the trotting horse will go off the trotting gait, breaking into a run, gallop, canter, etc. Comparable boo-boo for a pacer, although it deviates from the pace.
Breather: The term used during a race when the pace slows, and a horse is permitted to conserve or renew its might.
Bridle: The piece of equipment, usually made of leather or nylon, which fits on a horse’s head, upon which other equipment, such as a bit, blinders, and driving lines are attached.
Broke Down: When a horse suffers an injury or develops a condition that makes it unable to race. It may be temporary or permanent.
Brown: A specific color sometimes difficult to differentiate from black or dark bay. Because a horse looks brown, it may not be.
Broodmare: A female horse, generally retired from racing, or which has never raced, used for breeding purposes.
Brush: Term used to indicate quick speed, usually for short periods.
Brush: An implement typically consisting of bristles fastened into a handle, used for grooming.
Bute: Short for phenylbutazone, a commonly utilized non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication used usually for pain by way of the reduction of inflammation. Trade names are: Butazolidin and Butazone. Bute is a legal medication in many racing jurisdictions, but it may be illegal in some.
Buy Back: When a horse is offered in a public auction that did not reach a minimum (reserve) price set by the consignor and so was retained.
Call to the Post: Played on a bugle signaling the horses to come onto the track.
Carryover: A betting term referring to a type of exotic wager, wherein there is no payout so the pool is carried to a future race day. This will go on until someone wins by betting on the correct combination.
Cast in its stall: When a horse is wedged between the wall and floor or between two walls – on its back or side, in a position that prevents the horse from getting up. This usually happens after a horse has been resting, sleeping, or rolling. A cast horse usually panics, which makes matters worse as it will writhe itself causing it to be injured for life or die from injuries. The horse must be found quickly and helped into the up-right position. This is one of the reasons many of the stables employ a night watchman.
Catch Driver: Most trainers prefer to use the same driver for each race, but for various reasons this is not always possible. Therefore, a trainer will choose a “catch driver.” Most drivers are willing to drive any horse at any time, which makes them a catch driver. That is how they earn their living. Hence, they “catch” a drive.
Chalk: The favored wagering horse in a race.
Cheat: A person involved in horseracing without scruples. A liability and embarrassment to the industry/sport.
Chestnut: A specific horse color which may vary from a red-yellow to golden-yellow. The mane, tail and legs are usually variations of color, except where there are white markings.
Chestnut: A rough somewhat circular or oblong growth located on the inside of the horse’s legs. On the forelegs, they are just above the knees. On the hind legs, they are just below the hocks. No two horses have the same shaped chestnuts.
Choked Down: When a driver tries to get a horse to run at a slowed rate, he or she will sometimes pull its head back, unintentionally cutting off its breathing. This can cause the horse to lose consciousness and collapse on to the track. That is the worst-case scenario. Sometimes it just causes the horse to lose ground and perform poorly. There are degrees of choking.
Claimer: A racehorse that generally races in claiming races. See claiming race.
Claiming Box: Box in which claims are deposited before a race.
Claiming Price: The purchase price for a horse in a claiming race.
Claiming Race: A race where any of the entrants may be claimed (purchased) for a specified amount. A claim is made before the race, but the claimant owns the horse after the race begins, so if the horse gets injured, it may be the property of the new owner depending on the rules. The purse money won, if any, goes to the previous owner. The change in physical transfer takes place immediately following the race. Now you own it – now you don’t. If there is more than one claim on a horse, there is a draw to determine the new owner. What you have just read is an overview and guideline. NOTE: Before you claim a horse please become familiar with the racetrack and states rules.
Class: The grade into which a horse fits for racing purposes based on its past performance.
Colic: Pain in the abdomen. Flatulence colic is caused by an excessive amount of gas in the digestive tract. Impaction colic is caused by an accumulation of large amounts of dry feed in the stomach or intestine. Torsion colic is caused by a segment of the intestine twisting in such a way that little or no food can pass through the area.
Colors: The specially designed colorful jacket/shirt worn by drivers when in a race. A horse may only compete in the registered colors of either its driver, although there is a new trend which allows the driver to wear the colors of the owner/stable. Trainers and owners can choose their own set of color combinations but must apply to the harness racing authority to have them approved. The trousers are always white. Most drivers today wear a jumpsuit with the colorful top and white trousers.
Colt: A male horse aged three or under.
Combination Bet (Across the Board): Bet for which a single betting ticket is issued on more than one horse.
Commingle: Combining wagering pools from off-track sites with the host track.
Condition Race: A race where eligibility is based on age, sex, money won, or races won. For example: “3-year-old fillies, non-winners of $20,000 or 5 races.”
Condition Horse: A racehorse that is generally raced in events that are designed by specified conditions, opposed to stakes races, or claiming races. See Condition Race.
Conformation: The physical makeup of and comparations of how a horse is conformed. A good horse should be a finely tuned machine, so the parts must work in sync – hence proportionate conformation is desired for speed and soundness.
Consistent horse: A horse who races dependably either in terms of races won or money won.
Cooling Out: Returning a trained or raced horse to normal temperature, commonly by bathing, giving short drinks of cool water, walking, etc. All horses that are exercised are cooled out in one way or another. Trainers vary in their methods.
Coupled Entry: Two or more horses owned and/or trained by the same person, entered in the same race, and coupled for betting.
Cover: A horse on the outside that is behind another horse or horses. Desirable.
Cribber: A horse who constantly chews wood, usually caused by boredom. This can oftentimes be stopped or reduced by painting the wood with a chemical undesirable to the horse.
Cribber (Wind Sucker): A horse that clings to objects with his teeth and sucks air into his stomach.
Crossfire: When a pacer’s hind foot strikes the opposite front leg or front foot. This is usually a minor flaw in the pacers gait, which can usually be modified or corrected by a farrier. If not corrected it can cause a horse to break stride, fall, or become sore in the area of contact. Trotters do not crossfire.
Cross-train: The traditional and primary method of training Standardbreds is to keep them in a stall most of the time, but jogged or trained every day throughout the week, enjoying one or two days off. Some trainers add to this routine. Because horses are athletes, they have multiple muscles throughout their bodies. Jogging and going training miles does not employ all the horse’s muscles. Therefore, many trainers will employ additional training techniques to develop their equine athlete. These exercise techniques include swimming, riding, leading behind another horse, leading behind a pick-up truck, an electric horse walker/exerciser, etc. These additional training methods rounds out the athlete.
Crupper: If you are going to be involved in harness racing, this is a piece of equipment with which you should be familiar. It is a very important part of the harness, located at the very back of the harness. The crupper is that portion of the harness which goes under the horses tail to keep the harness from being pulled forward.
Curb: A strained thickened ligament found at the rear of the hock about three inches below the point of the hock. Many horses have curbs. Curbs are painful but curable.
Dam: The female parent of a horse. When referring to an offspring of a dam, the lingo is “out of.” When referring to the sire (father), you use the term “by.” An offspring is “out of” the dam, and “by” the sire.
Dark: A day when no live racing is scheduled.
Dash: A sprint race, versus a distance race.
Dead-Heat: When two or more race animals reach the finish line simultaneously, creating a tie. A dead-heat can occur with horses crossing the line in first place together, second place and third place. In other words, there can be a dead-heat for second place, and/or third place although there is a clear winner for first. Triple dead heats can also occur.
Deep Stretch: The position close to the finish line.
Dictating Terms: A driver whose horse is in the lead and is traveling at a speed that suits its ability, without any pressure from other contenders. This horse is in a prime position to win the race.
Disqualification: An owner, trainer, driver, caretaker, farrier, etc. may be banned for a period of time for breaking one or more of the rules of harness racing. They may also be barred at the discretion of the racetrack management for no reason because it is private property and the property owner/manager has the legal right to determine who can and cannot be on said property.
Disqualification of Horse: To lower a horse’s actual finishing position by an official act after deciding the horse interfered with others during a race, was drugged, or the owner/trainer/driver was guilty of breaking any rules. This would result in the redistribution of the purse money, but the public’s betting money would not be affected. If this judgment occurs after the day of the race, the wagerer’s money will not be refunded – but it may be refunded if the track officials deem so if it occurs immediately following the race.
Distanced: A horse that is at the extreme back of the field during the race, and that has a slim chance of catching the field. Or, a horse who, after the race, has finished at a distance approximately 25 lengths from the rest of the field.
Division: When there are multiple entries made in a race, the race secretary may divide it into two or more races.
DMSO: Short for Dimethyl sulfoxide, a very popular inexpensive topical anti-inflammatory.
Drench: Large dose of liquid administered through mouth to hydrate the horse.
Driver: The person who drives the horse during the race. A driver must be licensed based on knowledge and ability.
Drop in Class: A horse lowered in class from those against who it had been racing.
D.V.M.: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.
Early-Closer/Late-Closer: A race requiring payments which start much closer to the actual race date than a stake “Early” and “Late” involve specified periods of time.
Earplugs: Equipment that plug a horse’s ears to prevent it from hearing distracting sounds, or to keep it relaxed until the driver wants to fire it up (usually during the race). Usually connected to a heavy string that pulls the plugs out when the driver wants to excite the horse causing it to become more competitive. Sometimes the ears remain plugged during the entire race via the use of a fabric, such as cotton.
Empty Out: Having a bowel movement immediately before the race. This is desirable.
Endoscope (Scope): A medical instrument used for visual inspection of a hollow organ or body cavity such as the upper airway or stomach. Many poor performing horses are scoped by the racetrack veterinarian following a bad performance to determine if the horse has mucous or blood.
Enter: To enroll a horse in a race.
Entrapped Epiglottis: A condition in which the thin membrane lying below the epiglottis moves up and covers the epiglottis. This abnormality may obstruct breathing. Usually treated by surgery to cut the membrane if it impairs respiratory function.
Entry: Two or more horses with common ownership, or trained by the same trainer, which are paired as a single betting unit. Also known as a “coupled entry.”
Entry Fee: Money paid to enter a horse in a stake race.
Equipment Change: A horse’s change in equipment from the last time it raced. Generally announced prior to a race for the purpose of handicapping.
Even Money (Even Odds; 1-1): A betting term where the wagerer is betting $2 to win $2, or the equivalent there-of.
Exacta: A type of bet in which a player attempts to pick the winner and second place horse in a race, buying one mutuel ticket on the choice.
Exacta Box: A wager in which all possible combinations using a given number of horses are wagered on.
Exotic (Gimmick) Wager: A bet other than win, place or show.
Fade: When a horse tires and it cannot keep up with the field.
False Start: When a horse, through no fault of its own, is denied a fair start.
Farrier: Horseshoer, blacksmith.
Fast Track: Racetrack on which horses can go fastest based on a surface designed for speed. Sometimes a fast track can be so hard that it is harmful to the soundness of the horse. It is a trade-off.
Favorite: The horse in a race with the lowest odds because it is deemed to have the best chance of winning the race.
Feature Race: The race on the program that includes the highest quality horses.
Filly: A female horse aged three or under.
Fence: The inside fence is the structure around the inside of the racetrack, while the outside fence is the outside running barrier of the track. Most racetracks today have abolished the dangerous inside hub rail and they replaced this obsolete wood or metal fence by using “pylons.” A horse hitting a hub rail structure can become injured, plus cause injury to others, while the pylons generally serve as a reminder to the driver to stay on the track. If the driver happens to veer, it is harmless. One of the best changes in racing that took a century to realize. A horse going inside of the pylons while traveling in a race can be penalized if it results in an unfair advantage.
Field: The final list of horses, selected by the handicapper that will take part in a designated race.
Finish Line (The Wire): The concluding location of the race. Usually equipped with a photo finish camera. The first to cross the wire wins.
First Over: A horse on the outside that is leading the way on the outside no matter its location, but it usually refers to a horse who is near the front and in competition with the lead horse. The lingo is that the horse “has no cover,” which means it must endure the airstream. Although this may not seem like a challenging task to the novice, one must remember that most races are won or lost by fractions of seconds, so every advantage or disadvantage has a serious outcome on the result of the race.
First Turn: The curve in the track immediately beyond the starting point. AKA the clubhouse turn.
Five-Eighths Pole: The pole at the inside rail, exactly five-eighths of a mile from finish wire.
Fluoroscope: Fluoroscopy is an x-ray procedure, performed by a veterinarian, that makes it possible to see internal organs in motion. Fluoroscopy uses x-ray to produce real-time video images. After the x-rays pass through the patient, instead of using film, they are captured by a device called an image intensifier and converted into light. The light is then captured by a TV camera and displayed on a video monitor. A valuable and expensive tool.
Fly mask: A porous mask designed to keep flies from a horse’s head, however they have become popular to wear as equipment during a race to diminish the horse’s visibility.
Foal: A newly born horse. Also describes the act of a mare giving birth.
Footing: The condition of the track surface.
Forced Wide: When a horse is forced to move wide on the racetrack by another horse or other horses.
Fractional Time: Times recorded in a race at specific points. Such as: at the quarter, half, three-quarters, etc.
Fractions: Times, usually at 1/4 mile intervals in training miles and races.
Fractious: A horse that acts up. This can be a sign of spirit but can also mean a mental/behavioral disorder. A good trainer can prevent this disorder by slow, loving, meticulous teaching and care when “breaking” the horse. That is why they are referred to as trainers, although some are not worthy of this principled identify. Misbehavior can be a difficult problem once it becomes a habit.
Free-for-All: A race for open class or top-class horses.
Free-Legged: A pacer which races without wearing hobbles (see ‘hobbles’) to help maintain its gait is known as a free legged pacer. Until recently, hobbles were equipment used only on pacers, but they have become prevalent with trotters.
Freeze (temporary nerve block for diagnosis): A horse cannot point to or verbalize where it hurts, and most racehorses hurt somewhere. Consequently, a veterinarian will isolate the suspected affected leg and possibly the region of the leg through visual and manipulative examination, but if that is unsuccessful, which it usually is, the veterinarians will utilize perineural anesthesia, commonly called “nerve blocks,” to isolate the painful area. Nerve blocks work by effectively interrupting the transmission of the pain signal from the affected area to the brain. When the painful area is below the region that is anesthetized, the horse no longer perceives the pain, and its movement will improve until the temporary freeze is no longer effective. Nerve blocks give the veterinarian clues about where to focus therapeutic treatment. Nerve blocks are used at specific points along these nerves in order to localize pain to a region. Nerve blocks do not generally indicate the specific tissue(s) involved in the lameness, but they give the veterinarian clues as to where to focus further diagnosis.
Freeze (Cryotherapy for treatment): “Cryo” means cold. Cryotherapy is a therapeutic use of extreme cold to reduce inflammation. Frozen by using liguid nitrogen.
Front-Runner: A horse whose style is to leave the gate fast in an attempt to get to the lead at the start of the race and to continue there as long as possible. This can exhaust a horse, but also puts it in control of the race. A trade-off.
Full-Brother and/or Full-Sister: Horses that share the same sire and dam. Horses from the same dam, but with different sires are half. If from the same sire, but different dam, they are not technically related.
Furosemide: A medication used in the treatment of bleeders, commonly known under the trade name Lasix, which acts as a diuretic, reducing pressure on the capillaries. The use of Lasix will also “cloud” blood tests, thus masking the use of performance-enhancing substances, a technique used by cheaters who will go to any extent to win.
Futurity: A race for two-year-old’s in which the owners make a continuous series of payments over a period of time to keep their horses eligible.
Gait: Standardbred racehorses are divided into two distinct categories based on their gait. They are pacers or trotters, depending on their gait when racing. The gait is the manner in which a horse moves its legs when going at higher speeds. The pacer is a horse with a lateral gait, whereas a trotter has a diagonal gait. When moving at relaxed speeds for general exercise, a pacer will usually trot, but as it is asked for more speed, it will usually swing into the pace. Most trotters rarely pace.
Gallop: Another term for break.
Gelding (Altered): A neutered male horse of any age. Usually performed on horses that are deemed not suitable for breeding. Gelding a horse usually improves its behavior.
Gimmick Bets: Refers to exotic bets, which are bets other than straight win, place and/or show bets. The term gimmick comes from the attitude that it is difficult enough to pick one horse, let alone more than one. Risky wagers that can reward handsomely.
Gimpy: Slightly sore or lame.
Girth: A wide synthetic and/or leather belt that passes under a horse’s belly (girth) and is buckled firmly to both sides of the saddle.
Going Away: Winning while increasing the lead.
Gray: A distinct horse color where the majority of the coat is a mixture of black and white hairs. The mane, tail and legs may be either black or gray unless white markings are present.
Green: A horse that has not raced or has only raced a few times. Inexperienced – just learning to race.
Groom: A very important person in the day-to-day care of a race horse, particularly around the barn area. Also known as a caretaker. Some grooms also jog and train.
Half: Term to refer to the half-mile position.
Half Brother: Male horse out of the same dam, but by different sire than another horse.
Half Sister: A female horse out of the same dam, but by a different sire than another horse.
Half-Brother/Half-Sister: Horses out of the same dam but by different sires. Horses with the same sire and different dams are not considered half-siblings.
Half-Mile Pole: The pole exactly ½ mile from the start.
Halter: Similar to a bridle, but lacking a bit, blinders, etc. Used on a horse when being handled around the barn or when being walked.
Hand: A four-inch unit of measurement by which a horse’s height is measured from the ground to the withers.
Handicapping: Becoming familiar with all of the aspects of racing, usually by one who wagers. Successfully choosing winners, or those upon which a wager will be placed, entails becoming knowledgeable utilizing the racing program.
Handicap Race: A race where allowances are made primarily by positioning a horse behind the starting gate which will equalize all the horses chances of winning the race. Slower horses are assigned inside post positions and faster horses must start from the outside (since outside horses must travel further).
Handle: The total sum bet on a race.
Hand Drive: Urging a horse with the hands and not using the whip.
Harness: A major piece of equipment upon which much of the other equipment is attached. The harness is placed toward the front of the horse, behind the withers, and wraps over and around the sides and barrel, approximately 6 inches behind the horse’s elbow. The harness is used to attach the sulky to a horse, hence “harness racing.”
Harrow: A steel frame with suspended pins towed by a tractor, used to loosen and even the soil of a track surface.
Hat Trick: The winning, usually by a driver, of three races on a single program.
Head: Measurement describing a horse’s lead.
Head of the Stretch: The beginning of the straight run for the finish line.
Headpole: A pole fastened from the saddle of the harness to the bridle used to keep the horse from turning its head. Can be used on one side or both. Headpoles snap on and off easily, but in the old days, pool sticks were used.
Heat: One of multiple elimination races used to narrow the final field for a stakes race for which many race animals have been nominated. Usually raced two to three weeks before the final race.
Heat: A race.
Heavy Track: A racing surface on which the footing is heavy and sticky.
Hobbles (also spelled Hopples): The pacing hobbles consist of two oval loops attached together by a strap, and they hang from the harness with “hobble hangers.” The front leg is placed inside one loop and the back leg is put through the other loop on the same side. Straps connect the front and rear portion of the hobbles. Hobbles aid the horse in maintaining his gait by keeping both legs on the same side moving in rhythm, (hopefully/usually) preventing the pacer from breaking stride. Traditionally used for pacers, hobbles have recently been designed to be used on trotters to steady their gait, however the design is different from that of pacing hobbles. Trotting hobbles are designed so that both loops go around the individual front legs and are attached with a string that goes through a pulley.
Homebred: A horse bred by his owner.
Homestretch: The straightaway between the end of the far turn and the finish line.
Hood: A nylon covering that goes over a horse’s head to which blinkers or earmuffs are attached.
Hoof: The foot of the horse. Consists of several parts that play an integral role in supporting the weight of the horse. “No hoof – no horse.”
Horse: Technically a male horse aged four and older. Generally speaking, a horse is a horse.
Hyaluronic Acid: A normal component of joint fluid. Also, can be a man-made intra-articular medication used to relieve joint inflammation.
Indian File: When a field of horses race in single file, one behind the other.
In Foal: A pregnant mare.
In the Money: Finishing first, second or third in a race.
In Tough: When a horse is entered in a race with horses it is unlikely to beat.
Infield: The area inside the track, where the tote board is located.
Inquiry: Stewards may conduct an inquiry as a result of any incident which rules have been broken. It is an official investigation.
Inside: The position closest to the rail or to the left of a horse during a race.
Inside the Rail/Pylons: The area to the left of the racetrack when going counter-clockwise. Off limits during the race.
Inter-State Wagering: Betting on a simulcast of a race from another state.
Inter-Track Wagering: Betting on a simulcast of a race from another track within the state.
Invitational: A race for the top horses in the area. Also known as an Open, Free-For-All, or the like.
Isolation Barn: A separate barn used to divide sick horses from healthy ones.
Jog: To pace or trot at a leisurely speed while doing its daily exercises.
Jog Cart: A longer and narrower cart than a sulky, used primarily for daily exercising and slow training.
Judge: The person who decides the official placings and margins for each race or trial. They are also responsible for deciding the placement of horses in the event of a photo.
Judge’s scratch: Not permitted to race after being entered and post positions were drawn. Reasons and their abbreviations are, as follows:
AC Judges: Accident (AC)
BLL Judges: Bleeder List (BLL)
COG Judges: Expired Coggins (JG)
COI Judges: Conflict of Interest (COI)
DA Judges: Dangerous (DA)
DNS Judges: Did not start (DNS)
DRN Judges: Judges Drawn In (DRN)
FBS Judges: Fell before start (FBS)
FHD Judges: Failure to honor declaration (JG)
FPR Judges: Failed pre-race test (PRT)
ID Judges: Horse is not Identifiable (ID)
IGB Judges: Ineligible (IGB)
IMV Judges: Ineligible Medication Violation (IMV)
JIPT Judges: Ineligible Post Race Test (JIPT)
JOE Judges: Judges Office Error (JOE)
LD Judges: Late for Detention (JG)
LFP Judges: Late for Paddock (JG)
LL Judges: Late for Lasix (JG)
LPR Judges: Late Pre-Race Testing (LPR)
NR Judges: Not Reported (JG)
ONL Judges: Owner not licensed (JG)
OUS Judges: Owner Under Suspension (JG)
PSN Judges: Personal (PSN)
QRT Judges: Quarantine (QRT)
RCL Judges: Recall (RCL)
REF Judges: Refused (REF)
ROE Judges: Race Office Error (JG)
RPR Judges: Refused pre-race_test (PRT)
STL Judges: Stewards List (STL)
SU Judges: Sulked (JG)
TEE Judges: Trainer Entry Error (TEE)
TNL Judges: Trainer not licensed (JG)
TRK Judges: Track Condition (TRK)
TRP Judges: Transportation (JG)
TRV Judges: Trainer Responsibility Violation (JG)
TUS Judges: Trainer Under Suspension (JG)
UFS Judges: Unfair start (JG)
UM Judges: Unmanageable (UM)
UNS Judges: Unseated driver (UNS)
VR Judges: Vaccine requirement not met (JG)
WEA Judges: Weather (JG)
Kant C (See) Backs: Bridle cups that allow a horse to see forward and to the sides, but not behind it.
Key Horse: A horse chosen for winning by gamblers, in multiple combinations with other horses in an exotic wager.
Kitchen: The eatery for horsepersons in the stable area.
Killer instinct: Term used to describe a horse that has extreme determination to beat the other horses in a race. He/she will give all he/she has.
Lactic Acid: Lactic acidosis is a medical condition characterized by the buildup of lactic acid in the body, which results in an excessively low pH in the bloodstream. It is a form of metabolic acidosis, in which excessive acid accumulates due to a problem with the body’s metabolism of lactic acid. Lactic acid from exercise in muscles and blood is the most limiting factor for performance in horses. The accumulation of excess lactic acid in muscles and blood is the most limiting factor for muscle strength, endurance, and speed. Too much lactic acid build-up can cause muscle fatigue, inflammation, and pain. The diagnosis is made on biochemical analysis of blood (often initially on arterial blood gas samples), and once confirmed, generally prompts an investigation to establish the underlying cause to treat the acidosis.
Lame: The term used to describe a horse which is limping or has difficulty walking properly. Lameness is often caused by an injury.
Lapped On: At the finish when a horse’s nose is at least alongside of the hindquarters of the horse which finishes ahead.
Lasix: A drug given to horses in proper dosages, upon approval of the Stewards and is administered by the track veterinarian at a prescribed time before a race. It is used to control bleeding through the nostrils of horses as a result of exertion. Sometimes used by cheaters to cloud blood tests for illegal performance enhancing chemicals. See furosemide.
Last Half: The time recorded by a horse during the last half of the mile travelled in a race. It is equal to the combined time recorded in the third and fourth sectionals or quarters.
Late Change: This term refers to any change in a race after the official program has been printed.
Late Double: A second daily double offered during the latter part of the program.
Late Money: This term is used to define money that has been bet within about a minute to post.
Late Scratch: A horse which is scratched from a race generally after the program has been printed and distributed, including up until the race is ready to be contested. If a horse suddenly goes lame on its way to the gate and it is withdrawn, that is also referred to as a late scratch.
Lathered/Lathered-Up: Visible sweat that foams, most times along neck and flanks before a race. Too much sweat is considered a bad sign before a race and may indicate a nervous horse.
Lay Up: A race horse is away from the racetrack for a period of time to rest.
Layoff: An extended length of time a horse is sent to a farm for rest, breeding or rehabilitation.
Leader: The horse which is in front or leading during a race.
Leasing: As opposed to buying a horse, a person may be offered the option of leasing. Just like some people lease a car instead of paying the money up-front, leasing a horse gives people use of a horse without laying out a large sum of money for ownership. Oftentimes the leaser is given the option to purchase the horse at a pre-determined price, which encourages the leaser to take extremely diligent care of the animal. It can be a win-win.
Leave: When the starting gate lets the horses go at the start, a horse that rushes quickly to get to or towards the front is said to leave.
Length: In horseracing, a length is theoretically the distance from the horse’s nose to the tip of its tail, approximately 8-9 feet.
Line Pole: Similar to a head pole, but this apparatus is attached to the halter and the driving line is run through a ring attached to the pole. Less severe than a headpole but serves the same purpose.
Lock: A lock refers to a sure thing (If there is such a thing as a sure thing).
Long Shot: A horse with high odds.
Loose Horse: A horse that continues running after the driver/trainer falls off or is thrown from the sulky or jog cart. This can be very dangerous to the loose horse, other horses, drivers, trainers, etc. A few people will try to flag the horse down by waving their arms, which is the dumbest thing that can be done because it scares the horse even more. The best thing to do is get out of the way and allow the horse to run itself down to where it is tired and can be caught easily.
Lunge: A method of exercising and mannering a horse in a circular motion on a long rope referred to as a lunge line.
Magnetic Therapy: Physical therapy using magnetic fields.
Maiden: A horse which has not yet won a race.
Maiden Claiming: A claiming race specified for horses that have never won a race.
Mane: The long hairs growing on the crown of the horse’s neck.
Mare: A female horse, aged four and over.
Markings: Color configurations found on a horse’s body used for identification. These markings may be large spots, small spots, hairs in the body different from that of the main body, etc. Anything that may make the horse distinctive.
Martingale: Straps attached from the head area to the chest or girth, preventing a horse from rearing or throwing its head.
Mash: A soft hot or cold moist mixture, of grain and other feed that is easily digested by horses. Bran is commonly used as a base.
Massage: Rubbing of various parts of the anatomy to stimulate healing, or to just make the horse feel loved. Loved horses try harder in a race.
Match Race: A challenge race between two horses.
Matinee: Afternoon race at tracks where night racing is the usual practice.
Medication List: A list kept by the track veterinarian and published by the track showing which horses have been treated with legal medications.
Meet: Race meeting.
Milkshake: See Baking Soda.
Minus Pool: A mutuel pool caused when one horse is so heavily bet that, after deductions of state tax and commission, there is not enough money left to pay the legally prescribed minimum on each winning bet. However, the track makes up the difference.
Mobile Start: The most commonly used form of starting a harness race. An automobile with two folding arms attached to the rear speeds away out of the path of the horses as they start to race. The horses in the race line up according to post position as the automobile gathers speed, and then at the starting pole the auto speeds away as the starter (a person in the car referred to as: the starter) bellows “Go” on a loudspeaker. As the auto speeds away and moves to the outside fence the arms fold back. There is obviously someone besides “the starter”, who drives the auto.
Moon Blindness: This is a disease of the eyes where recurrent attacks usually cause blindness especially during the daylight. The condition is not contagious and is probably inherited.
Morning Line: Probable odds on each horse in a race, as determined by the track handicapper, who tries to gauge both the ability of the horse and the likely final odds as determined by the bettors.
Muck Out: Clean a horse’s stall.
Muck Bucket: The bucket into which dirty stall droppings are placed before being dumped into the manure wagon. Oftentimes a wheelbarrow is used instead of a muck bucket.
Mudder: A horse that races well on muddy tracks.
Murphy Blind: Equipment usually made of thin, yet firm, leather, designed to limit the horse’s view on one side or the other. Used for a horse that bears in or out. The Murphy blind is attached to the bridle.
Mutuel Clerk: A racetrack employee that accepts the wager and issues the betting ticket.
Mutuel Pool: Short for “pari-mutuel pool.” Sum of the wagers on a race or event, such as the win pool, daily double pool, exacta pool, etc.
Muzzle: Term defining the nose and lips of a horse.
Nerved: Operation that severs vital nerves to enable horses to race without pain. Illegal in most jurisdictions.
Nodding: If a horse nods (moves its head up and down) while moving, it is usually a sign of soreness or lameness. A sound horse will usually race with its head directly in front of him/her (sometimes low and sometimes high), but it will keep it steady.
Nominations: A list of the names of horses that have been entered for a race.
Non-Starter: A horse which has failed to start a race.
Nose: Smallest advantage a horse can win or lose by.
Nose Band: A leather or nylon strap that goes over the bridge of a horse’s nose to help secure the bridle. There are various types and styles.
Objection: The usual meaning is, a complaint made by one driver against another, or a complaint by a judge against a driver for a rule infraction.
Odds: Number indicating the amount of profit per dollar to be paid to holders of winning pari-mutuels tickets.
Odds Board: A large signboard in the infield in front of the grandstand where the odds are posted, usually in lights. Other information may also be listed.
Off Track: A racing surface that is slow due to a light rain, mud, or slop.
Off-Track Betting (OTB): Wagering at legalized betting outlets usually run by the tracks, or management companies specializing in pari-mutuel wagering. This concept is slowly dying due to the gamblers ability to place wagers via the Internet.
Official: “It’s official” are the words said by the announcer and published on the tote board following the decision regarding the result of a race by the stewards/racing judges. Usually the determination is immediate, but if there is an objection, or discrepancy, there may be a waiting period while the officials review the occurrences and make a determining decision.
Official: A racetrack authority.
On the Bit: When a horse is eager to race. Also known as “Up on the bit.”
On the Muscle: Same as “On the Bit.”
On the Nose: Betting a horse to win only.
Open Class: Horses, generally four years of age and older, which compete in races open to the most well-performed horses.
Out of the Money: When a horse does not finish in the first three.
Outrider: The person who leads the post parade at a horse racetrack and gets the horses to the starting gates on time. The outriders also assist drivers in the parade with fractious horses, and they catch loose horses on the track.
Outside Fence: The outside running rail, closest to the spectators.
Overcheck: A long belt-like strap that goes from the overcheck bit (usually in the horse’s mouth) to the top of the harness, used to hold the horses head in place. There is a new trend to sometimes race horses without overchecks.
Overlay: A horse going off at a higher price than he appears to warrant based on his past performances.
Overnight Race: A race in which entries close a specific number of hours before contested, such as 36 hours, as opposed to a stakes race for which nominations close weeks and sometimes months in advance.
Pacing: There are two gaits in harness racing – trotting and pacing. Pacing is a “lateral” gait in which the horse moves the legs on the same side back and forward together. Most pacers wear “hobbles,” which are not to make the horse pace, but to steady its gait (see Hobbles). Pacers are also less likely to break stride, so they are more popular with many horsemen than trotters, where the two gaits exist.
Paddock: This word has two meanings.
- A paddock is similar to what cowboys call corrals. It may measure 50’X50’ or may be as large as an acre (or more). A horse may be kept there for as little as a few minutes to 24/7 depending on the trainer and reason for the turnout
- The paddock is a designated building at a racetrack where the horses go prior to the race.
Paddock Judge: The racing official responsible for getting drivers and horses in order to go on to the racetrack. He/she also checks the equipment used by each horse and supervises the safeguarding of the horses while in the paddock.
Parade: The term used to describe the procession as the horses come onto the track before the race. Usually 5 to 10 minutes before the start.
Pari-mutuel: The form of wagering in which all money bet is divided up among those who have winning tickets, after taxes, takeout, and other deductions.
Parked Out (Parked): A horse racing on the outside, with at least one horse between it and the inside rail or barrier. Being on the outside is usually a disadvantage because the horse must go a longer distance. There are exceptions.
Parlay: A multi-race bet in which all winnings are subsequently wagered on each succeeding race.
Part Wheel: A horse racing bet where the bettor chooses one horse to finish in first place, but some of the other horses in the race you think might finish in the remaining positions that qualify on the type of bet (such as second, third, fourth on a Trifecta or Superfecta ticket). Example: Maybe you want to place a Trifecta bet; a bet on the top three finishing horses (Win, Place and Show). You are confident that horse #6 is going to take first place, but the second and third place finishes are a toss-up between horse #4, horse #1 and horse #8. You would bet a Trifecta Part Wheel, with the #6 over the #4, #1, and #8.
Passing Lane (Super Stretch): Until the 1990s harness tracks featured a wood or metal rail on the inside of the track. This rail was replaced with a row of short pylons (usually of a flexible material), which mark the inside boundary of the course. This change was mainly for safety reasons as it allows a driver to pull off to the inside of the course if necessary, such as when their horse breaks stride but they cannot move to the outside due to being boxed in. This innovation provides the opportunity to avoid what could have become a wreck. This modification authorized an additional innovation, which is a lane where the rail would have been. If the race leader is positioned on the rail at the top of the homestretch, that leader is required by rule to maintain that line (or move further out), while horses behind the leader can move into the open lane with room to pass the leader if possible. This solves a common problem, in which trailing horses are “boxed in” (behind the leader, with another horse outside). The theory is it makes races more wide-open, with potentially higher payoffs — and more attractive to bettors. Enters Cammie Haughton, newly appointed director of racing at Yonkers, who removed the passing lane. Other tracks are also considering eliminating the passing lane. In a story published in May 18, 2016, edition of The Horseman And Fair World, Roger Huston, the announcer at The Meadows, shared that he had kept statistics on the passing lane—it’s called the “Lightning Lane” since it was installed in 1992 at The Meadows. His record through May 10, 2016 showed that 85 of 1,047 winners had come up the passing lane. Huston noted that the 8.9-win percentage was lower than in the past, with his records show had averaged between 10-11 percent. As of mid-2018 the jury is still out regarding its future. Some for – some against.
Past Performance: A compilation of a horse’s record, including all pertinent data, usually used by a race secretary to classify a horse, and/or as a basis for handicapping.
Patrol Judge: A racing official strategically located at different locations on the racetrack to observe the horses and drivers while they race and report any infraction to the stewards.
Payoff: The amount of money retuned on a successful bet.
Phenylbutazolidan: See Bute.
Phenylbutazone: See Bute.
Photo Finish: Another term for “developed print”.
Pinhooker: A person who buys a racehorse with the specific intention of re-selling it at a profit. Particularly purchasing a weanling to raise and sell as a yearling.
Pocket: Another term for “boxed in.” A horse in a pocket is unable to obtain a clear run because it has other runners situated in front, behind and to the side of it. However, being in a pocket can allow the horse to relax, go with the flow, and if given the right opportunity, it can come from the pocket and do well – including winning the race. Sometimes referred to as a “pocket trip.”
Pole: Markers at measured distances around the track, marking the distance from the start. The quarter pole, for instance, is a quarter of a mile from the start.
Pole Position: Also referred to as the rail. The number one position, which is on the front line closest to the inside fence.
Pony: Any horse that leads the parade of the field from the paddock to the starting gate. Also, a horse which accompanies a starter to the starting gate. Also, can be used as a verb: “It was ponied to the gate.”
Pony Person: See Outrider.
Pool: Mutuel pool. Total sum bet on a race or can be broken down, i.e.: win pool, daily double pool, exacta pool.
Post Position: A horse’s position on the starting gate. Generally, the closer a horse starts to the inside rail of the track (especially on smaller tracks), the better its chance of winning. At the start, horses must either “leave” (meaning to move out quickly) to get a good position, or to find a place on the rail to avoid being parked. A horse on the inside usually has a better opportunity get a good position in the flow.
Post Time: The time period before the race when horses leave the paddock, come onto the racetrack, and parade in front of the grandstands for review by patrons.
Preference List: A system used by racing secretaries to give preference in entries to horses that have not raced recently. The system is designed to ensure equity in deciding which horses entered in a race will be allowed to race if there are more entries than available places in the race.
Preferred List: Horses with prior rights to starting, usually because they have previously been entered in races that have not filled with the minimum number of starters.
Prep Race: A workout or a race to prepare a horse for a future engagement.
Prerace: Term usually referring to giving performance enhancing chemicals to a horse prior to a race. Most chemicals are illegal but given commonly. This is a serious problem in racing.
Program: The program contains information about each race on the days racing card, including race number, conditions, distance, types of betting, horse’s names, numbers, and drivers.
Progressive titles for the ages of a horse:
- Colt: A male three years of age or less.
- Horse: A male four years of age or older.
- Gelding: A castrated male of any age.
- Filly: A female three years of age or less.
- Mare: A female four years of age or more.
Protest: A verbal or written dissent regarding the placings of a particular race, which is made to the stewards before the race is considered official.
Pulled the Plugs: You may hear the announcer say: “The driver pulled the plugs.” Drivers who pull the plugs during a race are merely releasing the ear plugs that have been in their horse’s ears. Plugging ears can help keep a horse’s mind on the job and help nervy horses stay calm leading up to and during the race. When released, (often as the horse gets closer to the finish) the sudden exposure to more noise may help spur on the horse. Some plugs are not pull able and stay in the horse’s ears throughout the race.
Pulled Up: Term used to indicate that a horse has stopped, or that it has been stopped by the driver/trainer during a race or training mile. Pulling a horse up is usually due to a problem, which may be: equipment malfunction (broken), lameness, soreness, etc.
Puller: A horse that pulls almost uncontrollably.
Pulling: Some horses get pumped-up during a race and try to go faster than the tempo of the other horses. These horses are “pulling.” Horses that pull will usually waste a lot of energy in the process, leaving little in reserve for the finish. A well-trained horse will sit patiently wherever the driver has it placed, and then turn on the engine when asked.
Pulling Out: A horse that is moving from a rail (pylons) to the outside.
Pull Up: To stop or dramatically slow a horse during a race or training mile. Usually the sign of a problem.
Purse: The total monetary amount distributed after a race to the owners of the entrants who have finished in the (usually) first five positions. Some racing jurisdictions may pay purse money through other places.
Qualifier: A race for horses that are qualifying to race at a certain track. There are standard times appointed at each track that a pacer or trotter must be able to meet before being allowed to race at that specific track. The horse must be able to race to that track’s standard of time or less without making a break in stride, and/or not having behavioral problems. Trotters have a slower standard than pacers because pacers generally go faster than trotters in a race. If the horse has been racing at a different track within the standard time, they will be allowed to race at most other tracks without additional qualifiers. Many times, a trainer will race a horse in more than one qualifier to school or ready the horse for competition.
Quarantine: 1) A process used to isolate foreign horses for a short period of time to ensure they are not carrying any diseases. May be at a racetrack, airport, or specially designated facility. Horses must be cleared by a federal veterinarian before being released from quarantine. 2) Any facility used to keep infected horses away from the general equine population.
Quarter: Refers to a quarter of a mile.
Quarter Crack: This is a crack found in the wall of the hoof in the area of the quarter. It usually runs from the bottom of the wall up to the coronet.
Quarter Pole: Colored post in the infield ¼ mile from the start. Many of the poles at the specific distances display the times as the lead horse passes.
Quick Hitch: One of the greatest inventions ever. Rather than the traditional way of tying the shafts of a jog cart or sulky to the harness, the quick hitch is a device that allows the jog cart or sulky to quickly be hitched and unhitched.
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.
Race Bike: See sulky.
Race Call: The announcer describes the race as it progresses.
Racing Commission: An appointed body of men and women which governs and polices racing where legislation has been passed to permit use of the pari-mutuels system in connection with horse racing.
Racing Dates: Specific dates allotted to racetracks to conduct business by racing commissions charged with granting licenses and monitoring the conduct of these tracks in conformation with the official rules of racing in their states.
Racing Secretary: The racing official who writes the conditions for the races, receives entries, conducts the draw, and is responsible for the operation and organization of the race office.
Rail: Common phrase referring to the horse that draws, or is assigned, post #1.
Rate: To restrain a horse early in a race, conserving its energies for later challenges. The lingo is: “He/she rated the mile well.”
Recall: When an attempt at starting a harness race, is nullified by the official in charge of the start, a restart of the race is called for. This takes place when the horses are behind the gate ready to go and the starting judge in the car decides to re-start the horses. A red-light flashes on top of the car signaling the drivers to take their horse off the gate for a re-start. There are several reasons why a judge will send the horses away from the gate to start over (broken equipment, a horse is lagging to far behind the gate, a horse is running “break in stride” to the gate, etc.).
Reinsman Or Reinswoman: Another term for driver.
Replays: Videos of races played back for the benefit of fans and officials after the completion of a race.
Requalify: A horse which has raced unsatisfactorily must requalify, because of misbehavior, not racing in the prescribed time, or various other reasons. The stewards have the option to make the horse requalify until it can perform satisfactorily, at which time it will be approved to race.
Retake: When the race begins, of course there is a horse that takes the lead. Occasionally, there will be another horse battling for the lead. If that horse gets the lead, the horse behind him, that had the lead, may pull out and retake the lead. A horse usually retakes from being second or third in line.
Ridgling: A male horse with one or both testicles not descended into the scrotal sac.
Rigging: A Standardbred’s harness, hobbles, protective equipment, and other appliances designed to make him perform better; plus, the manner in which it is all fastened to him.
Ringer: A horse racing under the name and identity of another, or under a fictitious name.
Roan: A specific color. The majority of the coat of the horse is a mixture of red and white hairs or brown and white hairs. The mane, tail and legs may be black, chestnut, or roan unless white markings are present.
Roaring (Laryngeal Hemiplegia): A whistling sound made by a horse during inhalation while exercising. It is caused by a partial or total paralysis of the nerves controlling the muscles which elevate the arytenoid cartilages which thereby open the larynx. In severe cases, a surgical procedure known as “tie-back surgery” (laryngoplasty) is performed, in which a suture is inserted through the cartilage to hold it out of the airway permanently. Paralysis almost exclusively occurs on the left side.
Rundown: To suffer abrasions on the fetlock (back part of ankle) as a result of contact with the dirt and sand of the track surface.
Rundown Bandages: Bandages on the hind legs, usually with a pad inside, to keep a horse from scraping his fetlock when he is in a training mile or race.
Saddlepad: The colored apparatus which displays the horse’s post position in a race. The colors that refer to the post position are generally universal worldwide. There are exceptions when there is an entry.
Saliva Test: Laboratory test to determine if a horse has been drugged or overdosed with medication.
Save Ground: To cover the shortest possible distance in a race.
Schooling: Process of familiarizing a horse with the starting gate and teaching it racing practices. A horse may also be schooled in any endeavor.
Scintigraphy: A technique where radio-labeled technetium is injected intravenously into a horse. A gamma camera is used to record uptake of the nucleotide in the tissues. It is particularly useful diagnostically to localize an area of inflammation in the musculoskeletal system.
Score down: After the horses come out of the paddock and parade in front of the fans, the drivers will usually turn the horses and push them for a little speed. This is scoring down. There is no particular or precise way to score a horse down. It is at the discretion of the driver.
Scratched: A horse that is withdrawn (or scratched) from a race before the start. Horses are scratched because of illness, injury, or several other reasons.
Second trainer: The assistant to the primary trainer.
Sesamoid: Sesamoid bones are located at the back of the fetlock, the joint formed by the pastern bone and the cannon bone.
Sesamoid Fracture: Fracture of the sesamoid bone. Fractures can be small chips or involve the entire bone. Surgical repair is often done by arthroscopy.
Set Down: The suspension of a driver or trainer for an infraction of a rule or rules.
Shadow Roll: A large Sheepskin-type tube-type apparatus that is fitted over the bridge of the horse’s head (Between the eyes and nose) to keep its eyes focused forward and away from distractions underfoot. Keeps it from jumping shadows and breaking stride.
Shank: Rope or strap attached to a halter or bridle by which a horse is led.
Sharpness: A horse’s abilities, for many different reasons, may change from day to day. Sometimes these changes will be obvious in the racing program. A former classy horse who shows a series of dull efforts may simply be tired and need to be refreshed (turned-out). Or, a horse may be rising to the peak of competitive sharpness may be able to handle higher than previous competitors than in the recent past. Signs of a sharp horse include the ability to overcome racing on the outside (a “parked-out” trip), a tough battle on the lead, and the making up of much ground in the stretch. The balancing of “class” and “sharpness” is one of the keys to successful training.
Shed Row: The stable area with barns and walk-ways under a roof.
Ship: Transporting a horse whether by trailer, truck, train, or airplane. At one time in history, horses transported us, but now we transport them.
Ship-in: Horses that have to travel to be able to race. At one time most racetracks had barns where horses were stabled on a regular basis, but that is changing as many racetracks are owned by casinos that want to use that barn land for other purposes. Consequently, most horses are stabled at training centers and shipped in.
Short: A horse in need of more work or racing to reach winning form.
Short Field: A race with seven or fewer race animals.
Show: Third position at the finish.
Show Bet: Wager on a horse to finish in the money; third or better.
Silks: Another term for “colors.” This term was adopted when the driver’s colors were made of silk. The next phase was nylon, and now cotton is used depending on the weather.
Sire: The male parent, or father, of a horse.
Sires’ Stakes: Upper class races for young horses that were sired, born, or bred in a particular state.
Sit: To race non-competitively; or to wait patiently for the right opportunity to make a move in a race. A great driver knows when to sit and when to pull.
Sleeper: An underrated race animal.
Spit Box: A generic term describing a barn where horses are brought for post-race testing. Tests may include saliva, urine and/or blood.
Spit the Bit: A term referring to a tired horse that begins to race less aggressively during a race. An exhausted horse.
Splint: 1) Either of the two small bones that lie along the sides of the cannon bone. 2) The condition where calcification occurs on the splint bone causing a bump. This can result from response to a fracture or other irritation to the splint bone. A common injury is a “popped splint.”
Spreaders (Gliders): Equipment put on the front of the horse designed to “spread” the front legs to widen the horses gait. Commonly used to prevent crossfiring. See crossfire. Spreaders are also used for horses that hit their knees because their function is to help spread the horse’s front legs. Gait interferences can also be aided or corrected by using different kinds of shoes or by changing the angle of the hoof. Horses are different, and it sometime takes a lot of time and perseverance to correct the horse’s gait. That is the job of a trainer.
Stable Entry: Two or more horses in same race whose owners share ownership.
Staggered Gate: A few racetracks have experimented by using a gate staggered so that the outside horses are ahead of the inside horse, which will level the playing field. Outside horses are always at a disadvantage because they obviously have a farther distance to race.
Stake Payments: Owners make a series of payments, beginning in advance of the events, to keep a horse eligible for particular extraordinary races.
Stakes Horse: A horse whose level of competition includes mostly stakes races.
Stakes-Placed: Finishing first, second or third in a stakes race.
Stakes Race: Race(s) in which owners make a series of advanced payments to keep a horse eligible. If an owner misses a payment to a stakes race, the horse becomes ineligible. These are usually races that offer large purses.
Stallion: A male horse, generally retired from racing, that is used for breeding purposes.
Stall Walker: Horse that moves about its stall constantly and frets rather than rests.
Standardbred: A breed of horse, which participates in harness racing.
Starter: The person responsible for starting a harness race, whether it be a mobile or standing start event. In a mobile event, the starter controls the start of the race from the back of the mobile vehicle. In a standing start event, the starter controls the start from the track sidelines. The starter also decides when and if a false start should be declared. Most races in the United States begin from behind a mobile starting gate.
State Veterinarian: The commission veterinarian is usually appointed by the State Racing Commission. This person serves as professional adviser and consultant to the State Racing Commission on veterinary matters including all regulatory aspects of the application and practice of veterinary medicine at the track.
Steward: The person appointed by the harness racing authority to assist in the control of racing and other matters related to the sport. They ensure that all rules relating to racing and betting are observed and enforced. Stewards are required to regulate, control, and inquire into and adjudicate on the conduct of officials, owners, trainers, drivers, caretakers, etc. at any event where licensed persons are involved.
Stiff: A few crooked owners, trainers, and/or drivers will hold a competitive horse back from winning, or performing well, for the purpose of collecting a bet when the odds are high on their horse in a future race. Or, they may stiff their horse to collect a bet on another horse in the same race with high odds. This is illegal.
Stifle: The large joint above the hock which is made up by the femur, the patella, and the tibia.
Stirrups: The place on a sulky or jog cart on, or in, which a driver places her/his feet during the race, or when exercising/training. They can be adjusted depending on the driver’s/trainer’s preference for comfort and safety.
Stockings: Solid white markings on a horse extending from the top of the hoof to the knee or hock.
Straight Bet: Betting on a horse to win a race.
Stretch: The final straightaway portion of the racetrack to the finish line.
Stride: Manner of going. Also, distance covered after each foot has touched the ground once.
Strung Out: A field of horses in a race in which the distances between the leader, the rear horse and the other horses is vast. Such a field would be referred to as being well-strung- out.
Stud (Stallion): A male horse used for breeding.
Stud Book: Registry and genealogical record of the breeding of a stallion.
Sucked Along: This is self-explanatory, so think about it. In a race, a horse may have the advantage of sitting behind another horse, or horses, thus being motivated to go with the flow. It may appear the horse raced well, but it may have just been sucked along.
Sulky: Also known as the cart or race bike. It is attached to the harness which carries the driver and which the horse pulls.
Suspension: A driver or trainer, who is deemed, by the stewards, to have broken one or more of the rules of harness racing, may receive a suspension (time off from racing) as punishment.
Synchronous Diaphragmatic Flutter: A contraction of the diaphragm in synchrony with the heart beat after strenuous exercise. Affected horses have a noticeable twitch or spasm in the flank area which may cause an audible sound, hence the term “thumps.” Most commonly seen in electrolyte-depleted/exhausted horses. The condition resolves spontaneously with rest or veterinary attention may be summoned.
Synovial Fluid: The synovial fluid is located in a cavity that is between two bones of the joint and contained by the synovial membrane. This liquid is viscous and ensures that the joint can move smoothly. You could see it as a kind of lubricating oil (natural lubricating fluid contained within a joint, tendon sheath or bursa). Veterinarians will replace leaked synovial fluid with a synthetic-type synovial fluid (sometimes called acid).
Synovial Joint: A movable joint that consists of articulating bone ends covered by articular cartilage held together with a joint capsule and ligaments and containing synovial fluid in the joint cavity.
Synovial Sheath: The inner lining of a tendon sheath that continually produces synovial fluid. Allows ease of motion for the tendons as they cross joints.
Synovitis: Inflammation of a synovial structure, typically a synovial sheath.
Tack: Stable gear and equipment.
Tack Room: Room in the barn area in which items necessary for the training and racing of horses are kept.
Tack Trunk: A large trunk that usually is placed in front of a horses stall, in which much of the smaller equipment is kept – especially brushes, combs, bandages, leg paint, etc.
Tail Tie: Prevents the horse from switching his tail and/or from kicking by tying tail to the sulky or jog cart.
Takeout: The percentage taken out of every dollar wager, and split between state, track and purses. The percentage taken out is usually between 15-20% for straight wagers and 20-25% for exotic wagers.
Takes care of himself or herself: Term used to describe a horse that will race yet will not race so vigorously that it will cause physical damage to itself. This is a positive attribute because the horse will remain relatively sound, hence low vet bills. It is a negative when it prevents a horse from performing to its potential or beyond.
Tattoo: A form of identification in which race animals are legally recognized. Horses were tattooed under the upper lip, but then they changed to freeze-branding on their neck. Progressively they will micro-chip.
Tendon: Cords of strong, white elastic fibers (collagen) that connect a muscle to a bone or other structure and transmit the forces generated by muscular contraction to the bones.
Thermography: Diagnostic technique utilizing instrumentation that measures temperature differences. Records the surface temperature of a horse. Unusually hot or cold areas may be indicative of a physical problem.
Three-Eighths Pole: Colored pole at inside rail, exactly 3/8 mile from the start line.
Three-Quarter Pole: Colored pole at inside rail, exactly 3/4 mile from the start line.
Three Wide: The same position that a horse which is two out occupies, in the third row of horses out from the inside rail. Similarly, a horse which is three out would be racing four wide (in the fourth row of horses out from the inside rail). Three and four wide is also termed three and four deep.
Tight: Physically fit and ready to race.
Tightener: A race used to give a horse a level of fitness that cannot be obtained through training exercises alone.
Timer: The electrical timing device that records the actual time the horses run each race. The timer is connected to the photo finish cameras and equipment, which are activated by opening of the starting gate or starting box. The photo finish camera records each race animal on a moving strip of film as that race animal crosses the finish line. A timing strip is visible across the top of the photo-strips, which reflects the time of each race animal at the finish line.
Time Trial: A non-registered race in which a horse sets out to record a specific time, or to see exactly how fast it can pace or trot without having to deal with other horses interfering with its progress. The theory is to give the horse a perfect trip. A prompter or two, usually a Thoroughbred in a jog cart, races beside the Standardbred so it believes it is in a race – hence will go faster and try harder. Time trials were very popular until a few years ago, but because horses race so fast today, it is no longer necessary to use a Time Trial race. Time trials were used primarily for horses destined for breeding stock, to demonstrate their fast speed, but in this era, breeders and buyers are more impressed with how fast a horse can go in a real race.
Tip Sheet: A printed leaflet listing the best bets of the day, usually sold at or near the racetrack.
Toes-In: A conformation flaw in which the front of the foot faces in and looks pigeon-toed, often causing the leg to swing outward during locomotion causing a paddling motion.
Toes-Out: A conformation flaw in which the front of the foot faces out, often causing the leg to swing inward during locomotion causing a winging motion.
Tongue Tie: Strip of cloth-type material used to stabilize a horse’s tongue to prevent it from “choking down” in a race, workout, or to keep the tongue from sliding up over the bit, making the horse uncontrollable. They look and seem harsh, but the horses actually do not mind them.
Tote Board: The sign-board at the racetrack that electronically shows the money wagered and the resulting odds. Data includes approximate odds, total amount wagered in each pool, track condition, post time, time of day, result of race, official and inquiry signs, running time of each race and the mutual payoffs after each race is declared official, as well as other pertinent information.
Tout: One who sells tips on the races for a profit.
Track Condition: The surface condition of the racing surface.
Track Record: Fastest time at various distances recorded at a particular track.
Track Superintendent: The official responsible for maintaining acceptable racing and training track conditions during the race meet.
Trailing Off: Describe a fit horse losing its competitive edge.
Trainer: A person that has sole responsibility for the care and training of a race horse.
Trapped Epiglottis: Condition, correctable by surgery, in which a flap of tissue interferes with a horse’s breathing.
Trifecta: 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 to finish first, second, and third.
Trip: Specific reference to the difficulty, or success, the horse had during the race. Depending on the flow of the race and how the driver drives the horse, it may get a good or bad trip.
Tubing: Inserting a tube through a horse’s nostril into its stomach for the purpose of providing oral medication. A very common practice among equestrians who want to introduce chemical elements into the horse’s system to enhance its performance. Generally, very illegal unless administered in a time period where-by it will affect the horse’s performance. Performance enhancing chemicals are illegal.
Turn Out: To send a horse to the farm for a rest in a nice green field or a mud filled corral (paddock). The purpose is to give the horse an opportunity to move around freely because it typically spends so much time in a small stall. The horse can also bask in the sun, breath fresh air, play, etc. A happy horse races better than an unhappy horse.
Twitch: A restraining device usually consisting of a stick with a loop of rope or chain at one end, which is placed around a horse’s upper lip and twisted, releasing endorphins that relax a horse and curb its fractiousness while it is being handled in a manner that might ordinarily provoke it. It looks cruel, but most horses do not mind, plus it reduces the possibility of the horse or the person(s) working on the horse from being hurt.
Tying-Up: Tying-up in horses is recognized by muscle stiffness and pain, flaring of the nostrils, sweating, blowing, pale gums, short/stiff gait, trembling, reluctance to move, pawing, and brown urine. Tying up results during or after exercise when the energy supply to perform these functions is insufficient. The medical term for tying up is rhabdomyolysis-which means skeletal muscle (rhabdo) breakdown/damage (lysis). Blood tests will show elevated levels of muscle enzymes. A horse becomes tied-up when his muscles have been overworked. The muscles become damaged from toxic by-products produced during the work. These toxic by-products are produced from the blood’s inability to carry enough oxygen to the muscles. To prevent tying-up: Feed a low or no-carbohydrate diet with high fat. Warm up and cool down your horse properly with at least 15 minutes of walking. Do not exercise the horse to a point where it is stressful. Provide turnout as often as possible. To understand and correctly treat or prevent tying up, you need to know the causes. Tying up can occur as an isolated event or be a recurrent problem.
Ultrasound: 1) Diagnostic ultrasound is a technique which uses ultrasonic waves to image internal structures. 2) Therapeutic ultrasound is a therapy to create heat and stimulate healing.
Underlay: A horse racing at shorter odds than seems warranted by its past performances.
Under Wraps: A horse that is racing exceptionally well and under restraint.
Urinalysis: Testing the urine of a horse for drugs or medication.
Vet’s List: List of ill or injured horses declared ineligible for racing by the track veterinarian.
Video Patrol: The system by which video cameras are strategically placed around a racing oval to broadcast and record the running of each race from each possible angle.
- Win: The horse you select and bet must come in first.
- Place: The horse you select must come in first or second.
- Show: The horse you select must come in first, second, or third.
- Daily Double: A bet attempting to pick the winner of two consecutive races.
- Pick Three: A bet attempting to select the winners of three consecutive races.
- Quinella: A bet attempting to select the first two finishers, regardless of order.
- Perfecta or Exacta: A bet attempting to select the first two finishers in exact order.
- Trifecta: A bet attempting to select the first three finishers in exact order.
- Tri-Super: A bet attempting to select the first three finishers in exact order, and then the first four finishers in exact order in a subsequent race.
- Twin Trifecta: A bet attempting to select the first three finishers in exact order, and then the first three finishers in exact order in a subsequent race.
Warm up: This is the term used when a horse is exercised approximately 45 minutes before it races. It is an exercise that serves many purposes. 1) It loosens the horse’s muscles. 2) It relaxes the horse if the horse needs to relax. 3) It fires the horse up if the horse is lazy and it needs to be motivated. 4) It allows the trainer/driver to examine the movement of the horse to ascertain its soundness prior to the race. 5) It allows track officials to observe the horse for any irregularities. 6) It provides the fans with an opportunity to watch the horse prior to the race.
Washed Out: A horse that becomes so nervous or overheated that it sweats profusely.
Weanling: A baby horse, up to its first birthday, which for Standardbreds is January 1 (all Standardbreds regardless of the actual date of birth). A horse born on December 31, is technically and legally a year old on the very next day.
Wheel: Betting all possible combinations in an exotic wager using at least one horse as the key. See Part Wheel.
Whip (Stick): Drivers will tap their horse with a whip when they want them to accelerate.
Whistling: A wheezing sound made by the horse as he is exerted, caused by an inflammation of the respiratory tract.
Win: The term used to describe a 1st place finish.
Win Bet: A wager that a horse will come in first in a race.
Win Pool: The total amount bet in any race on a horse to win after the deduction of taxes and race track commissions.
Win Ticket: A pari-mutuel ticket purchased on a horse to win.
Winded: Breathing with effort after workout or race. A trainer must be able to ascertain whether a horse is breathing with excessive effort or not enough effort. Too much effort could indicate trouble, including the trainer worked the horse too hard. Not breathing hard enough could mean the trainer did not train the horse hard enough. There must be a happy medium. The way a horse breathes is very important.
Winner’s Circle: The enclosure adjacent to the racing oval where a winning horse is brought for a ceremonial win photo with the owner, trainer, and their friends. Some consider this the greatest place in the world.
Winner-Takes-All: Winner receiving all the purse or stakes.
Wire: Another term for the finish line.
Withers: Area above the shoulder, where the neck meets the back.
Without Cover: To race in front of all other horses, without any protection from the wind resistance. A horse is considered racing without cover if it is the leader, either on the inside or outside of the other horses. Sometimes this works and sometimes it does not.
Wobbler: A neurological disease due to compression of the spinal cord. Seen principally in 2-year-olds and 3-year-olds.
Wobbler Syndrome: Neurological disease clinically associated with general incoordination and muscle weakness. Can be caused by an injury to the spinal cord in the area of the cervical (neck) vertebrae or is associated with malformation of the cervical vertebrae.
Wolf Teeth: These are extra teeth found just forward to the first upper molar. They must be extracted, as they are tender and interfere with the metal bit.
Xeroradiography: A costly type of x-ray procedure using specially sensitized screens that give higher resolution on the edges of bone and better visualization of soft tissue structures.
Yearling: Any horse between its first and second birthday. No matter what the actual date was when a horse was born, a horse turns another year older on January 1. (i.e., a weanling will be a yearling on January 1.)