(a) Silky Sullivan

A horse that makes a big run from far back. Named for the horse Silky Sullivan, who once made up 41 lengths to win a race.

(home) stretch

Final straight portion of the racetrack to the finish.

across the board

A bet on a horse to win, place and show. If the horse wins, the player collects three ways; if second, two ways; and if third, one way, losing the win and place bets. Actually three wagers.

action

1) A horse’s manner of moving. 2) A term meaning wagering, for example, “The horse took a lot of action.”

added weight

A horse carrying more weight than the conditions of the race require, usually because the jockey exceeds the stated limit.

airing

Not running at best speed in a race.

all out

When a horse extends itself to the utmost.

allowances

Reductions in weights to be carried, allowed because of the conditions of the race or because an apprentice jockey is on a horse. Also, a weight reduction female horses are entitled to when racing against males, or that three-year-olds receive against older horses.

also-eligible

A horse officially entered for a race, but not permitted to start unless the field is reduced by scratches below a specified number.

apprentice

Rider who has not ridden a certain number of winners within a specified period of time. Also known as a “bug,” from the asterisk used to denote the weight allowance such riders receive.

apprentice allowance

Weight concession given to an apprentice rider: usually 10 pounds until the fifth winner, seven pounds until the 35th winner and five pounds for one calendar year from the 35th winner. More rarely, a three-pound allowance is allowed to a rider under contract to a specific stable/owner for two years from his/her first win. This rule varies from state to state. Apprentices do not receive an allowance when riding in a stakes race. All jockeys going from track to track must have a receipt from the clerk of scales from their track verifying the jockeys’ most recent total number of wins. Also known as a “bug,” from the asterisk used to denote the weight allowance.

bearing in (or out)

Deviating from a straight course. May be due to weariness, infirmity, inexperience or the rider overusing the whip or reins to make a horse alter its course.

bell

Signal sounded when the starter opens the gates or, at some tracks, to mark the close of betting.

Bill Daly (on the)

Taking a horse to the front at the start and remaining there to the finish. Term stems from “Father Bill” Daly, famous old-time horseman, who developed many great jockeys.

blind switch

A circumstance in which a rider’s actions cause him/her to be impeded during a race.

bobble

A bad step away from the starting gate, usually caused by the track surface breaking away from under a horse’s hooves, causing it to duck its head or nearly go to his knees.

bolt

Sudden veering from a straight course, usually to the outside rail.

bounce

A poor race run directly following a career-best or near-best performance.

boxed (in)

To be trapped between, behind or inside of other horses.

break

To leave from the starting gate.

break maiden

Horse or rider winning the first race of its career. Also known as “earning a diploma.”

breather

Easing off on a horse for a short distance in a race to permit it to conserve or renew its strength.

brush

During a race, two horses who slightly touch each other.

bug boy

An apprentice rider.

call

Running position of horses in a race at various points.

check(ed)

When a jockey slows a horse due to other horses impeding its progress.

climbing

When a horse lifts its front legs abnormally high as it gallops, causing it to run inefficiently.

closer

A horse that runs best in the latter part of the race, coming from off the pace.

colors

Colors accepted by The Jockey Club are bay, black, chestnut, dark bay or brown, gray, roan and white. See individual entries for definitions.

company

Class of horses in a race He last ran in stakes company.

conditions

The requirements of a particular race. This may include age, sex, money or races won, weight carried and the distance of the race.

dead heat

Two or more horses finishing a race in a tie.

declared

In the United States, a horse withdrawn from a stakes race in advance of scratch time. In Europe, a horse confirmed to start in a race.

dh

Abbreviation for dead heat.

disqualification

Harness racing:Disqualified persons may not act as an official or start or drive a horse in a race. Disqualified horses shall not be allowed to start.
Thoroughbred racing: Change in order of finish by officials for an infraction of the rules.

distanced

Horse so far behind the rest of the field of runners that it is out of contact and unable to regain a position of contention.

dq

Abbreviation for disqualified.

driving

A horse that is all out to win and under strong urging from its jockey.

drop(ed) down

A horse meeting a lower class of rival than it had been running against.

dwelt

Extremely late in breaking from the gate.

eased

A horse that is gently pulled up during a race.

easily

Running or winning without being pressed by rider or opposition.

eligible

Qualified to start in a race, according to conditions.

engagement

1) Stakes nomination. 2) Riding commitment.

entry fee

Money paid by an owner to enter a horse in a stakes race.

evenly

Neither gaining nor losing position during a race.

fee

1) Amount paid to a jockey for riding in a race. 2) The cost of nominating, entering or starting a horse in a stakes race.

field

The horses in a race.

fire

A burst of acceleration by a horse in a race. For example, “The horse did (didn’t) fire when asked.”

flatten out

A very tired horse that slows considerably, dropping its head on a straight line with its body. Some horses, however, like to run with their heads lowered.

fractional time

Intermediate times recorded in a race, as at the quarter, half, three-quarters, etc. The “quarter time,” for example, refers to the time after the first quarter-mile, not the first 25 percent of the race.

front-runner

A horse whose running style is to attempt to get on or near the lead at the start of the race and to continue there as long as possible.

furlong

One-eighth of a mile, 220 yards, 660 feet.

gait

Harness racing: Either a trotting or pacing gait.
Thoroughbred racing: The characteristic footfall pattern of a horse in motion. Thoroughbreds have four natural gaits-walk, trot, canter and gallop. Thoroughbreds compete at a gallop.

garrison finish

A close victory, usually from off the pace. Derived from “Snapper” Garrison, old-time rider given to that practice.

gate card

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

graduate

1) Winning for the first time, horse or rider. 2) A horse that has moved up to allowance, stakes or handicap racing.

hand ride

Urging a horse with the hands and not using the whip.

handily

A horse racing well within itself, with little exertion from the jockey.

head

A margin between horses. One horse leading another by the length of its head.

high weight

Highest weight assigned or carried in a race.

hung

A horse that does not advance its position in a race when called upon by its jockey.

Impost

Weight carried or assigned.

in hand

Running under moderate control, at less than top speed.

inquiry

Reviewing the race to check into a possible infraction of the rules. Also, a sign flashed by officials on the tote board on such occasions. If lodged by a jockey, it is called an objection.

Jail

Refers to the requirement that a horse which has been claimed that next runs in a claiming race must run for a claiming price 25 percent higher for the next 30 days. Commonly used in the phrase The horse is in (out of) jail.

jockey fee

Sum paid to rider for competing in a race.

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.

jog

Slow, easy gait.

lame

A term used to describe a horse that is limping, has difficulty walking or is sore.

lead [LED]

Lead weights carried in pockets on both sides of the saddle, used to make up the difference between the actual weight of the jockey and the weight the horse has been assigned to carry during the race.

length

A measurement approximating the length of a horse, used to denote distance between horses in a race.

lock

Slang for a “sure” winner.

maiden

Breeding: A female that has never been bred.
Harness racing: A stallion, mare or gelding that has never won a heat or race at the gait at which it is entered to start and for which a purse is offered.
Thoroughbred racing: A horse or rider that has not won a race.

middle distance

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

money rider

A rider who excels in rich races.

morning glory

Horse that performs well in morning workouts but fails to reproduce that form in races.

mudder

Horse that races well on muddy tracks. Also known as a “mudlark.”

near side

Left side of a horse. Side on which a horse is mounted.

neck

Unit of measurement. About the length of a horse’s neck; a little less than a quarter of a length.

nod

Lowering of head. To win by a nod, a horse extends its head with its nose touching the finish line ahead of a close competitor.

Nom de Course

Name adopted by an owner or group of owners for racing purposes.

nominator

One who owns a horse at the time it is named to compete in a stakes race.

nose

Smallest advantage a horse can win by. Called a short head in Britain.

objection

Claim of foul lodged by rider, patrol judge or other official after the running of a race. If lodged by official, it is called an inquiry.

off side

Right side of horse.

official

1) Notice displayed when a race result is confirmed. 2) Used to denote a racing official.

on the bit

When a horse is eager to run. Also known as “in the bridle.”

on the board

Finishing among the first three.

on the muscle

Denotes a fit horse.

out of the money

A horse that finishes worse than third.

overland

Racing wide throughout, outside of other horses.

overweight

Surplus weight carried by a horse when the rider cannot make the required weight.

pacesetter

The horse that is running in front (on the lead).

paddock judge

Official in charge of paddock and saddling routine.

patrol judge(s)

Official(s) who observe the progress of a race from various vantage points around the track.

photo finish

A result so close it is necessary to use the finish-line camera to determine the order of finish.

pill

Small numbered ball used in a blind draw to decide post positions.

pinched back

A horse forced back due to racing in close quarters.

pinhooker

A person who buys a racehorse with the specific intention of re-selling it at a profit.

place

Second position at finish.

placing judge

Official who posts the order of finish in a race.

plate(s)

1) A prize for a winner. Usually less valuable than a cup. 2) Generic term for lightweight (usually) aluminum horseshoes used during a race.

plater

1) Claiming horse. 2) A farrier.

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 parade

Horses going from paddock to starting gate past the stands.

post position

Position of stall in starting gate from which a horse starts.

post time

The time set for the start of a 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.

prop

When a horse suddenly stops moving by digging its front feet into the ground.

pull up

To stop or slow a horse during or after a race or workout.

purse

The monetary amount that is distributed to the finishers of a race.

rabbit

A speed horse running as an entry with another, usually come-from-behind horse. The rabbit is expected to set a fast pace to help the chances of its stablemate.

racing secretary

Official who drafts conditions of races and assigns weights for handicap events.

rail runner

Horse that prefers to run next to the inside rail.

rank

A horse that refuses to settle under a jockey’s handling in a race, running in a headstrong manner without respect to pace.

rattle

Used in the expression, “He likes to hear his feet rattle,” a horse that likes a firm turf course.

re-entered

The reason that the horse was scratched out of the race was that he was either a) entered in another race on that day, either at the same track or another track and opted to race in the other race OR b) was scratched out of this race to run in another race in the next few days.

refuse

1) When a horse will not break from the gate. 2) In jumping races, balking at a jump.

ridden out

A horse that finishes a race under mild urging, not as severe as driving.

ride short

Using short stirrups.

route

Broadly, a race distance of longer than 1-1/8 miles.

router

Horse that performs well at longer distances.

scale of weights

Fixed weights to be carried by horses according to their age, sex, race distance and time of year.

scratch

To be taken out of a race before it starts. Trainers usually scratch horses due to adverse track conditions or a horse’s adverse health. A veterinarian can scratch a horse at any time.

second call

A secondary mount of a jockey in a race in the event his primary mount is scratched.

set down

1) A suspension. For example, “The jockey was set down five days for careless riding.” 2) When a jockey assumes a lower crouch in the saddle while urging the horse to pick up speed. For example, “The horse was set down for the drive to the wire.”

show

Third position at the finish.

shut off

Unable to improve position due to being surrounded by other horses.

solid horse

Contender.

spit the bit

A term referring to a tired horse that begins to run less aggressively, backing off on the “pull” a rider normally feels on the reins from an eager horse. Also used as a generic term for an exhausted horse.

stakes horse

A horse whose level of competition includes mostly stakes races.

stakes-placed

Finished second or third in a stakes race.

starter

1) An official responsible for ensuring a fair start to the race, the starter supervises the loading of horses into the starting gate through a gate crew. He/she also has control of the opening the gate. 2) A horse that is in the starting gate when the race begins, whether he runs or not.

stayer

A horse that can race long distances.

steadied

A horse being taken in hand by its rider, usually because of being in close quarters.

step up

A horse moving up in class to meet better competition.

stewards

Officials of the race meeting responsible for enforcing the rules of racing.

stretch call

Position of horses at the eighth pole.

stretch runner

Horse that runs its fastest nearing the finish of a race.

stretch turn

Bend of track into the final straightaway.

stride

Manner of going. Also, distance covered between successive imprints of the same hoof.

subscription

Fee paid by owner to nominate a horse for a stakes race or to maintain eligibility for a stakes race.

sulk

When a horse refuses to extend itself.

take (takeout)

Commission deducted from mutuel pools which is shared by the track, horsemen (in the form of purses) and local and state governing bodies in the form of tax.

taken up

A horse pulled up sharply by its rider because of being in close quarters.

The Jockey Club

An organization dedicated to the improvement of Thoroughbred breeding and racing. Incorporated Feb. 10, 1894 in New York City, The Jockey Club serves as North America’s Thoroughbred registry, responsible for the maintenance of “The American Stud Book,” a register of all Thoroughbreds foaled in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada; and of all Thoroughbreds imported into those countries from jurisdictions that have a registry recognized by The Jockey Club and the International Stud Book Committee.

tight

Ready to race.

trail off

Used to describe a fit horse losing its competitive edge.

trip

An individual horse’s race, with specific reference to the difficulty (or lack of difficulty) the horse had during competition, e.g., whether the horse was repeatedly blocked or had an unobstructed run.

washed out

A horse that becomes so nervous that it sweats profusely. Also known as “washy” or “lathered (up).”

weigh in (out)

The certification, by the clerk of scales, of a rider’s weight before (after) a race. A jockey weighs in fully dressed with all equipment except for his/her helmet, whip and (in many jurisdictions) flak jacket.

weight-for-age

An allowance condition in which each entrant is assigned a weight according to its age. Females usually receive a sex allowance as well. (Compare with a handicap race.)

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