Horse Betting Glossary

Triple Crown Horse Betting Glossary

Horse track betting is a game of chance, but it is also game of skill and expertise. The more you know, the more likely you are to win. That's why horse wagering is often referred to as the "Smart Man's Bet." However, developing your own system is key.

There is no one single successful horse racing wagering strategy and that's a good thing! This means that even for beginning and novice bettors, you can still fair well with your selections as long as you find a strategy that works for you. For many people, the process is very personal. It becomes a combination of informational knowledge, smart betting, and luck. Over time, though, luck becomes less of a factor for the educated gambler and information and smart betting techniques really take over.

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Across the board: A win, place and show bet on a horse.

Allowance: A race other than a claiming event for which the racing secretary drafts certain conditions.

Apprentice: A jockey who has ridden for less than a year and who receives weight allowances.


Backside: The racetrack's barn area.

Bay: A color ranging from tan to dark chestnut with black mane, tail and points.

Beyer speed rating: A measure of performance popularized by Andy Beyer of The Washington Post.

Bounce: An exceptionally poor performance on the heels of an exceptionally good one.

Broodmare: Female horse used for breeding.

Broodmare sire: A sire whose female offspring become producers of exceptional performers.

Bullet: Fastest workout of the day at a particular distance.


Call to the post: A special call played on a Bugle used to signal the horses to the starting gate.

Chestnut: A color ranging from light gold to deep red. Also, a small, horny growth on the inside of a horse's front legs.

Claiming race: A race in which the horses are for sale at a price specified before the race. Claims are made before the race and the new owner assumes possession immediately following the race.

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


Dam: The mother of a horse.

Distaff: A race for female horses.

Driving: Strong urging by jockey.


Early foot: Good speed at the start of a race.

Entry: Two or more horses representing the same owner or trained by the same person and running together as a single betting entity.


Filly: A female horse less than 5 years old.

Furlong: An eighth of a mile.

Foal(ed): 1) A horse of either sex in its first year of life. 2) As a verb, to give birth. Also known as "dropped." 3) Can also denote the offspring of either a male or female parent.

Futurity: A race for two-year-olds in which the owners make a continuous series of payments over a period of time to keep their horses eligible. Purses for these races vary but can be considerable.


Gait: The characteristic footfall pattern of a horse in motion. Thoroughbreds have four natural gaits-walk, trot, canter and gallop. Thoroughbreds compete at a gallop.

Gap: An opening in the rail where horses enter and leave the course.

Gate: See starting gate.

Gate card: A card, issued by the starter, stating that a horse is properly schooled in starting gate procedures.

Gelding: A neutered male horse.

Get: Progeny of sire.

Good bottom: Track that is firm under the surface, which may be dry or wet.

Good (track): A dirt track that is almost fast or a turf course slightly softer than firm.


Halter: Like a bridle, but lacking a bit. Used in handling horses around the stable and when they are not being ridden.

Handicapping: This is the study of factors in the past performances which determine the relative qualities and abilities of horses in a race.

Hand: Four inches. A horse's height is measured in hands and inches from the top of the shoulder (withers) to the ground, e.g., 15.2 hands is 15 hands, 2 inches. Thoroughbreds typically range from 15 to 17 hands.

Handle: Money wagered.

Handicap: 1) Race for which the track handicapper assigns the weights to be carried. 2) To make selections on the basis of past performances.


Infield: Area encompassed by the inner rail of the racetrack.

Inquiry: Official investigation of rule infractions.

In the money: A horse that finishes first, second or third.


Jockey's race: A race whose outcome will hinge mostly on strategic thinking by the riders; i.e., one in which riders must pay close attention to pace to keep their horses fresh for a strong finish.

Juvenile: Two-year-old horse.


Key horse: A single horse used in multiple combinations in an exotic wager.


Lasix: Diuretic medication given to horses which bleed.

Leg up: 1) To help a jockey mount a horse. 2) A jockey having a mount.

Listed race: A stakes race just below a group race or graded race in quality.

Lock: Slang for a "sure" winner.

Lunge: 1) Horse rearing and plunging. 2) A method of exercising a horse on a tether ("lunge line").


Maiden: A horse that hasn't won a flat racein any country.

Mare: A female horse 5 years old or older.

Middle distance: Broadly, from one mile to 1-1/8 miles.

Morning line: The starting odds set by thetrack handicapper.


Off track: A track that is not fast.

Overlay: A horse whose odds are greater than itspotential to win.


Paddock: Structure or area where horses are saddled and kept before going to the track.

Pari-mutuel: System of wagering where all the money is returned to the wagerers after deduction of track and state percentages.

Pocket: A position in a race with horses in front and alongside.

Point(s) of call: A horse's position at various locations on the racetrack where its running position is noted on a chart. The locations vary with the distance of the race.

Pony: Any horse or pony that leads the parade of the field from paddock to starting gate. Also, a horse or pony which accompanies a starter to the starting gate. Also can be used as a verb He was ponied to the gate. Also known as a "lead [LEED] pony."

Post: 1) Starting point for a race. 2) An abbreviated version of post position. For example, "He drew post four." 3) As a verb, to record a win. For example, "He's posted 10 wins in 14 starts."


Racecard: Programme for the day's racing, showing the times, runners and riders for each race.

Rails (racecourse): White plastic rails are used to mark out the track on a racecourse. The stands rails are those nearest the grandstand and the far rails are those on the opposite side of the track from the grandstand. A horse referred to as being 'on the rails' or 'against the rails' is running close to the rails, which often helps a horse to keep a straight line in a race finish. A horse that has 'grabbed the rail' is one whose rider has manoeuvred to a position close to the rail.

Rails (betting): This refers to the fence separating the Members area on a racecourse from the Tattersalls area. Bookmakers are not allowed in the Members area, but some bookmakers are allowed to set up their pitches on the Tattersalls side of the rails, allowing them to accept bets. Rails bookmakers are the top end of the racecourse betting market, usually dealing with credit customers.

Return: Total amount received for a winning bet (winnings plus stake) OR the result/final odds for a race e.g. the winner was returned at 4-1.

Roan: Horse with white hairs mingledthroughout its coat.


Silks: Jacket and cap worn by jockeys.

Sire: Father of a foal.

SP: Short for starting price.

Sprinter: A horse that specialises in running over the shortest distances (five and six furlongs) on the Flat.

Sprint races: Flat races run over a distance of five or six furlongs.

Stallion: Male breeding horse.

Staying races: Flat races run over a distance of two miles or more.

Steward: One of the officials in overall charge of a race meeting, including disciplinary procedures. The stewards can hold inquiries into possible infringements of the rules of racing, or hear objections to the race result from beaten jockeys. Usually there are three stewards at each race meeting, assisted by a stipendiary steward. The stewards are appointed by the racecourse, subject to approval by the BHA, and are often prominent local figures (much like magistrates).

Stud: Stallion.

Stick: A jockey's whip.


Thoroughbred: A breed of horse used for racing.

Tic-tac: The sign language used by bookmakers to communicate changes in betting odds on the racecourse. Tic-tacs wear white gloves and signal the odds using their hands and arms.

Trainer: The person responsible for looking after a horse and preparing it to race. A trainer must hold a license or permit to be entitled to train.

Trip: Another term for the distance of a race. When a horse has the stamina for a certain distance, it is said to 'stay/get the trip'.

Triple Crown: The American Triple Crown comprises the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.

Turf course: Grass covered race course.


Under Double Wraps: The horse won easily without extending to its full ability.

Underlay: Horse whose odds are more promising than his potential to win.


Valet: A person who helps jockeys keep their wardrobe and equipment in order.


Weight: The assigned weight for a horse, including the jockey, equipment and lead weights if needed.

Workout: Exercise session at a predetermined distance.

Yearling: A horse that is one year old. The universal birthdate of horses is January 1.

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