The sport of horse racing and the associated betting both use a fair amount of jargon. If you want to be successful at horse racing betting then it pays to have an understanding of all the various terms used. We have compiled this glossary of terms which covers all the words and phrases you should need to know.
Please note that due to the comprehensive nature of this glossary many of the terms are region specific; for example some may be used in the United Kingdom but not in the United States, and vice versa.
Abandoned: A race meeting may be abandoned due to poor weather conditions. All bets on races that get abandoned are refunded.
Accumulator: A bet on 4 or more selections in separate races. All selections must win to get a return. Also known as a parlay.
Across the Board: A bet used in North America that combines a win bet, a place bet and a show bet.
Added Weight: Weight carried by a horse that is over the amount required by the conditions of a race. Typically due to a jockey exceeding the weight limit.
All Age Race: A race for all horses aged two years and older.
All Out: When a horse is running at full speed.
All Weather: An artificial racing surface designed to be suitable for racing in all weather conditions.
Allowance Race: A race in which the required weights to be carried by the competing horses is determined by factors such as age, gender and previous performances.
Allowance: Reduction in the required weight to be carried in accordance with the conditions of a race.
Amateur: A jockey that does not receive fees for riding in races.
Ante-Post Betting: Betting well in advance of a race.
Apprentice: A trainee jockey.
At The Post: Horses are said to be at the post when they arrive at the start.
Baby Race: A race for horse aged two years old.
Banker: A horse strongly favored to win a race.
Bearing In/Out: When a horse deviates from a straight course.
Betting Ring: The area at a racecourse where the on-course bookmakers are situated.
Bit: A piece of equipment that is fitted into a horse’s mouth and attached to the bridle. Helps a jockey to guide and control a horse.
Bleeder: A horse that often suffers from broken blood vessels when racing.
Blinkers: A garment fitted to a horse’s head to reduce vision to the side and focus it to the front.
Bookmaker: A person or organization licensed to take bets. Often abbreviated to bookie.
Boxed In: When a horse gets trapped behind or between other horses.
Breather: Jockeys may give a horse a breather during a race, allowing it time to fill its lungs.
Breeder: An individual or organization that breeds racehorses.
Bridle: A piece of equipment that fits over a horse’s head and is used to control the horse. Holds the bit in the horse’s mouth.
Canadian: A bet that combines 26 separate wagers on 5 selections. Also known as a Super Yankee.
Chalk Player: A bettor that backs mostly favorites.
Chalk: The favorite horse in a race, i.e. the one with the lowest odds.
Chaser: A horse that runs in steeplechase races.
Claiming Race: A race in which the competing horses are all for sale until just before the race.
Classic: A race of traditional significance.
Clerk Of The Course: The racecourse official that has overall responsibility for the course.
Clerk Of The Scales: The racecourse official responsible for weighing jockeys before and after a race.
Closer: A horse that runs well towards the end of a race
Colt: An ungelded male horse aged four years or younger.
Combination Bet: A bet that consists of multiple wagers on multiple selections combined into one.
Combination Tricast: See Reverse Trifecta.
Conditions Race: A type of race in which horses may be allocated extra weight based on factors such as age, gender and previous performances.
Conformation: The build and physical structure of a horse.
Connections: The people connected with a horse such as the owner(s) and the trainer.
Course Specialist: A horse that is proven at a specific racecourse.
Daily Double: A bet used in North America where you have to back the winner in two consecutive races.
Dead Heat: When two or more horses cannot be separated at the finishing post, resulting in a tie.
Double: A bet on 2 selections in separate races. Both selections must win to get a return.
Draw: The starting position of a horse in the stalls for a flat race.
Driving: Pushing a horse to its maximum limits.
Dual Forecast: See Exacta.
Each Way Bet: A win bet and a place bet combined.
Earmuffs: Equipment that is placed over a horse’s ears to prevent possible distraction from noise.
Entire Horse: An ungelded horse.
Exacta: A bet on which two horses will finish in the top two positions in a race, in the correct order. Also known as duel forecast, exactor, perfecta.
Exactor: See Exacta.
Exotics: A collective term used to describe certain wagers that are more complex than straight bets.
Field: Collective term for all the horse in a race.
Filly: A female horse aged four years or younger.
Firm: A condition of a turf course; indicates there is little to no give in the ground.
Fixed Odds Betting: Betting with a bookmaker with agreed odds at the time of placing a wager.
Flat Racing: Racing where there are no obstacles for the horses to negotiate.
Form: The racing record of a horse.
Front Runner: A horse who tends to run races from the front, or close to it.
Full Cover Bet: A bet that combines multiple wagers on multiple selections so that you don’t need all your selections to win to get a return.
Furlong: A unit of distance equivalent to 220 yards/660 feet/one eighth of a mile.
Gelding: A male horse that has been neutered.
Going: The going describes the condition of the surface at a race track.
Goliath: A bet that combines 247 separate wagers on 8 selections.
Graded Race: A race of a certain quality. Can be Grade I, II or III with Grade I being the highest quality.
Group Race: A race of a certain quality. Can be Group 1, 2, or 3, with Group 1 being the highest quality.
Hand: A unit of measure used to describe the height of a horse. Equal to 4 inches.
Handicap Race: A race where the horses are allocated a weight to carry as decided by the official Handicappers. The goal is to level the playing field so all the horses have a theoretically equal chance of winning.
Handicap Rating: A rating assigned to a horse once it has run three times, used to determine what weight it will carry in a handicap race. The better the horse the higher the rating.
Hard: A condition of a turf course; indicates there is no give in the ground.
Heinz: A bet that combines 57 separate wagers on 6 selections.
Hurdler: A horse that races over hurdles.
Jockey: The rider of a horse in a race.
Jump Racing: Racing where there are obstacles for the horses to negotiate, such as fences and ditches.
Juvenile: A two year old horse.
Length: An approximate unit of measure used to describe the distance between horses. For example “he went eight lengths clear in the final straight”. Equal to the average length of a horse.
Level Weights: When all horses are carrying equal weight.
Listed Race: A race of slightly lower quality than Group Races and Graded Races.
Lock: Slang term for a sure winner.
Longshot: A horse with high odds that is not expected to have much chance in a race.
Lucky 15: A bet that combines 15 separate wagers on 4 selections.
Lucky 31: A bet that combines 31 separate wagers on 5 selections.
Lucky 63: A bet that combines 63 separate wagers on 6 selections.
Maiden Race: A race for horses (or jockeys in some cases) that have never won a race.
Maiden: A horse or jockey that has never won a race.
Mare: A female horse aged five years or older.
Muddy: A condition of a course; indicates it’s wet but there is little or no standing water.
National Hunt: The official term for jump racing in the UK and Ireland
Nod: The action of a horse lowering its head. Used to describe a very close finish between two horses. For example “he won on the nod”.
Non Runner: A horse that was expected to run in a race but is withdrawn for some reason.
Nose: An approximate measure to describe the distance between horses, typically used at the end of a race. For example “he just won it by a nose”. Roughly 5% of one length.
Objection: A complaint made by one jockey against another, relating to some action in a race.
Odds On: Odds of less than even money, meaning you can only win less than your initial stake (plus your stake returned).
On The Bridle: A term to describe a horse that is running comfortably.
On The Nose: Slang term for betting on a horse to win only.
Paddock: Area of a racecourse where horses are saddled prior to a race.
Parimutuel Betting: A form of betting where all stakes are pooled and, after deductions, the pool is split between winning bets. Also known as tote betting.
Parlay: A bet on 4 or more selections in separate races. All selections must win to get a return. Also known as an accumulator.
Patent: A bet that combines 7 separate wagers on 3 singles.
Perfecta: See Exacta.
Photo Finish: When two or more horses are so close at the finishing post that a photo is used to determine the winner.
Place Bet (American Definition): A bet on a specified horse to finish first or second in a specified race
Place Bet (Rest of World Definition): A bet on a specified horse to finish in the places (first 2, 3 or 4 positions, depending on race and number of horses)
Post Time: Scheduled starting time for a race.
Pulled Up: When a horse is stopped during a race.
Purse: The total amount of prize money awarded for a race.
Quinella: See Reverse Exacta.
Refuse: When a horse will not start a race, or will not jump an obstacle.
Reverse Exacta: A bet on which two horses will finish in the top two positions in a race, in either order. Also known as reverse forecast, reverse perfecta, quinella.
Reverse Forecast: See Reverse Exacta.
Reverse Perfecta: See Reverse Exacta.
Reverse Triactor: See Reverse Trifecta.
Reverse Trifecta: A bet on which three horses will finish in the top three positions in a race, in any order. Also known as reverse triactor, combination tricast.
Scratch: To remove a horse from a race before it starts.
Short Head: An approximate measure to describe the distance between horses, typically used at the end of a race. For example “she only won by a short head”. Roughly 10% of one length.
Show Bet: A bet used in North America on a specified horse to finish first, second or third in a specified race.
Silks: The jacket and cap worn by jockeys to represent the owner of the horse they are riding.
SP: See Starting Price.
Sprint: A short race run at a quick pace. Typically less than one mile.
Stallion: A male horse used for breeding.
Starting Price: The final betting odds in place at the time a race starts. Commonly abbreviated to SP.
Stayer: A horse with good stamina that tends to do well in long races.
Steeplechase: A type of race in which the horses have to jump over obstacles.
Stud Book: A registry of Thoroughbred horses. Maintained by the relevant club or association in each region.
Stud: A male horse used for breeding or a breeding farm/stable.
Super Heinz: A bet that combines 120 separate wagers on 7 selections.
Super Yankee: A bet that combines 26 separate wagers on 5 selections. Also known as Canadian.
Thoroughbred: The breed of horse used for most competitive horse racing.
Tote Betting: See Parimutuel Betting:
Treble: A bet on 3 selections in separate races. All 3 selections must win to get a return.
Triactor: See Trifecta.
Tricast: See Trifecta.
Trifecta: A bet on which three horses will finish in the top three positions in a race, in the correct order. Also known as triactor, tricast.
Triple Crown: A series of classic or famous races. Different regions have their own Triple Crowns.
Trixie: A bet that combines 4 separate wagers on 3 selections.
Win Bet: A straight bet on a specified horse to win a specified race.
Win Double: See Double.
Win Treble: See Treble.
Yankee: A bet that combines 11 separate wagers on 4 selections.
Yearling: A horse aged one year.
Yielding: A condition of a turf course; indicates wet ground with plenty of give.