false favorite

Horse that is a race favorite despite being outclassed by other competition in the field. See underlay.

fast

Footing that is dry, even and resilient.

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.

field horse (or mutuel field)

Two or more starters running as a single betting unit (entry), when there are more starters in a race than positions on the totalizator board.

filly

Breeding: Female horse four-years-old or younger.
Harness racing: A female horse 3 years of age or younger.

fire

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

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.

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.

floating

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

foal

A newborn horse under 1 year of age.

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.

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.

founding sires

The Darley Arabian, Byerly Turk and Godolphin Barb. Every Thoroughbred must be able to trace its parentage to one of the three founding sires.

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.

free handicap

A race in which no nomination fees are required. More recently, and more commonly, a ranking of horses by weight for a theoretical 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.

frozen

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

full-brother, full-sister

Horses that share the same sire and dam.

furlong

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

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.

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