apron

The (usually) paved area between the grandstand and the racing surface.

auxiliary starting gate

A second starting gate used when the amount of horses in a race exceeds the capacity of the main starting gate.

backside

Stable area, dormitories and often times a track kitchen, chapel and recreation area for stable employees. Also known as “backstretch,” for its proximity to the stable area.

backstretch

Straight portion of the far side of the racing surface between the turns.

bullring

A small racetrack, usually less than one mile.

chute

Extension of backstretch or homestretch to permit a straight running start in a race as opposed to starting on or near a turn.

clerk of scales

An official whose chief duty is to weigh the riders before and after a race to ensure proper weight is (was) carried.

clubhouse turn

Generally, the turn on a racing oval that is closest to the clubhouse facility; usually the first turn after the finish line.

condition book(s)

A series of booklets issued by a racing secretary which set forth conditions of races to be run at a particular racetrack.

cuppy

A dry and loose racing surface that breaks away under a horse’s hooves.

cushion

Top portion of a racetrack.

dead track

Racing surface lacking resiliency.

deep stretch

A position very close to the finish line in race.

dogs

Rubber traffic cones (or a wooden barrier) placed at certain distances out from the inner rail, when the track is wet, muddy, soft, yielding or heavy, to prevent horses during the workout period from churning the footing along the rail. Used in the phrase, “The dogs are up,” or simply, “dogs up.”

fast

Footing that is dry, even and resilient.

firm

A condition of a turf course corresponding to fast on a dirt track. A firm, resilient surface.

flag

Signal manually held at a short distance in front of the gate at the exact starting point of race. Official timing starts when flag is dropped by the “flagman” to denote proper start.

floating

Flat plate or wooden implement (float) dragged over the surface of a wet track to aid in draining water.

Fontana safety rail

An aluminum rail, in use since 1981, designed to help reduce injuries to horse and rider. It has more of an offset (slant) to provide greater clearance between the rail and the vertical posts as well as a protective cover to keep horse and rider from striking the posts.

frozen

A condition of a racetrack where any moisture present is frozen.

gap

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

good

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

good bottom

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

hard

A condition of a turf course where there is no resiliency to the surface.

head of the stretch

Beginning of the straight run to the finish line.

heavy

Wettest possible condition of a turf course; not usually found in North America.

infield

Area encompassed by the inner rail of the racetrack.

leaky roof circuit

Minor tracks.

muddy

A condition of a racetrack which is wet but has no standing water.

paddock

Area where horses are saddled and paraded before being taken onto the track.

pasteboard track

A lightning fast racing surface.

pole(s)

Markers at measured distances around the track designating the distance from the finish. The quarter pole, for instance, is a quarter of a mile from the finish, not from the start.

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.”

rail

The barrier on either side of the racing strip. Sometimes referred to as the “fence.”

receiving barn

Structure used by horses shipping in for a race who do not have a stall at that racetrack.

shedrow

Stable area. A row of barns.

simulcast

A simultaneous live television transmission of a race to other tracks, off-track betting offices or other outlets for the purpose of wagering.

sloppy

A racing strip that is saturated with water; with standing water visible.

slow

A racing strip that is wet on both the surface and base.

soft

Condition of a turf course with a large amount of moisture. Horses sink very deeply into it.

starting gate

Partitioned mechanical device having stalls in which the horses are confined until the starter releases the stalls’ confined front doors to begin the race.

teletheater

Special facility for showing simulcast races.

valet

A person employed by a racing association to clean and care for a jockey’s tack and other riding equipment.

wire

The finish line of a race.

yielding

Condition of a turf course with a great deal of moisture. Horses sink into it noticeably.

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