Horse Racing Glossary

This Glossary contains definitions relating to horse racing from topics such as breeding and training, to wagering and handicapping.

15 Top Horse Racing Terms to Know

Every sport has its own jargon, and horse racing is no exception! Here are 15 top terms that every punter should know:

1. Bell: This signal can have different meanings in horse racing. Some ring a bell, when starter gates open, signaling the start of a race. Others use it to inform punters that odds betting is about to close. Make it a point to check on these conventions when you first visit a new racecourse!

2. Blanket finish: A race in which horses finish so close to each other that no clear winner is evident to the naked eye. Horse racing stewards may take a few minutes to confirm a winner and places in such an event.

3. Chart: Detailed anatomy of a race, charting the position of a horse relative to the field, at key points in a race, its age, background, trainer, rider, odds, and all other details which can have a possible bearing on future wagering.

4. Claiming: Withdrawing a horse from a race. This affects the chances of all other horses entered for an event.

5. Dam: The mother of a horse with a particular bloodline, which has been specially bred.

6. Declared: A U.S. specific term for claiming, as described above.

7. Distaff: A race for female horses. This may be for young fillies or for older mares.

8. Dogs: Physical barriers placed near the inner rail during a rainy spell, to prevent horses which are being trained or having work outs, from spoiling the coveted surface of an actual race.

9. Dwelt: A horse which is a poor starter, and shows hesitation in setting off at the start of a race.

10. Farrier: A blacksmith who makes iron shoes for the hooves of horses.

11. Granddam: Grand mother of a horse.

12. Horsing: A female horse in menstruation, at which time mating is most likely to result in conception.

13. Inquiry: A sign on the tote board which indicates that horse racing stewards suspect foul play, and wish to review a race.

14. Oaks: A race for 3 year old female horses or fillies.

15. Pari-mutuel: A transparent form of odds betting in which all the money bet is divided between winning punters, after deducting taxes for regulators, and a margin for organizers.

Horse racing has a culture of its own, and though some new words may sound strange or out of place at first, soon become objects of bonding between horse racing enthusiasts.


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