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Horse Racing Glossary of Terms

Apprentice rider/allowance — New jockeys start out as apprentices and are given a weight allowances until they have a certain number of wins within a specific period of time. Apprentices also don’t receive weight allowances when riding in a stakes race.

Blinkers — Device placed around a horse’s eyes to prevent seeing to the rear and the side. This encourages the horse to focus on the race. Also known as Blinders.

Bug — An apprentice jockey, because of the “bug” or asterisk in the official program identifying that the weight carried includes the apprentice allowance.

Claiming race — A race in which the horses can be bought for a specific price.

Colors — Racing silks (jacket and cap) to identify the owner(s) of the horse.

Dead heat — Two or more horses finishing in a tie at the finish line. (Yes, it can happen.)

Field — The horses in a race.

Furlong — One-eighth of a mile.

Graded stakes race — A high-quality race with 3 categories: Grade 1, 2 and 3. Features the best horses, with owner(s) having to pay entry fees.

Handicap race — Race where different horses carry weights to even out the level of competition. The best horse carries the most weight. Think of it like a handicap in golf.

Handle — Total amount of money bet on a single race, day or season.

In the money — Finishing 1st, 2nd or 3rd.

Long shot — A horse with little perceived chance of winning a race. Odds are high on a long shot, with winning bets resulting in big money payouts and even louder screams.

Maiden race — A race for horses looking for a first win.

Nose — Smallest margin of victory a horse can have.

Paddock — Area of a racetrack where the horses are saddled and kept before a race.

Post parade — When horses leave the paddock and pass the stands on their way to the starting gate.

Post position — A horse’s position in the starting gate from the inner rail outward. Also happens to be a horse’s number.

Post time — Designated time for a race to start. Try to place your bets at least 10 minutes before post time.

Purse — Prize money distributed to the owner(s) of a winning horse.

Quarter horse — A breed of horse that excels at sprinting short distances.

Scratch — A horse that has been taken out of a race. Also what you do with your head when your horse comes in last.

Tack — The saddle and other equipment worn by a horse when it runs.

Tote board — A computerized display board that shows betting information like odds, post time, results of each race and winning payouts. Look here to see if hopes are broken or if dreams come true.

Triple Crown — The three most prestigious races in America: The Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.

Thoroughbred — A breed of horse known for speed and endurance while racing long distances.

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