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Horse Racing Terminology Part 4: Miscellaneous Terms to Know

When you are new to the world of horse racing betting, you have to learn the language before you can start placing smart wagers.  In Horse Racing Terminology Part 1,  Part 2, and  Part 3 of my series on horse racing terminology, I outlined various useful terms, and introduced you to concepts like track conditions, thoroughbred classifications, and types of wagers.


Now I’d like to share some miscellaneous terms with you that are helpful to know.

  • Apprentice jockey:  This is a jockey who has ridden for less than a year.  These riders may be given weight allowances known as “bugs.”  The “weight” refers to everything the horse is carrying.  The jockey is included as well as all equipment and any additional weight required for the race. 
  • Blinkers:  This is the hood that a horse wears to keep its focus ahead.
  • Bounce:  This is when a horse performs poorly and then “bounces” back with a great performance.
  • Call to post:  This is the bugle call which calls the horses to the track.
  • Chalk:  This is another term for the favourite.
  • Closer:  This is a horse that puts on a burst of speed toward the end of a race.
  • Dead heat:  This is a tie at any placement.
  • Field:  This refers to the horses which are competing.
  • Form - this refers to the horses' physical condition.
  • Hand:  The height of a horse is measured in hands and inches, with a hand representing four inches.  The measurement goes from the ground to the top of the shoulder.
  • Handle:  This is the total amount of money wagered.
  • Length:  This is the measurement from nose to tail of a horse, usually around 8 feet.  It is used not just to describe horses in a race, but also to describe the distance between them.  One horse that is two “lengths” in front of another is around 16 feet in the lead.
  • Morning line:  The handicapper at the track provides a prediction of the odds before wagering begins.  This is known as the morning line.
  • Mutuel Window:  This is the window where you place your wager if you are betting at the race track in person.
  • Pacesetter:  This is the horse that is in the lead.
  • Pari-mutuel:  With this system, the money from the pool is returned to bettors after a deduction.
  • Post position:  This is the starting position for a horse.
  • Purse:  This refers to the winnings distributed to the top 5 finishers.
  • Scratch:  If a horse is pulled out of a race before it begins, this is a scratch.
  • Silks:  This is the name for the jacket and cap the jockey wears.  Each jockey has a “valet” who helps them to don their silks and gather their equipment.
  • Simulcast:  If you are watching the race from home in order to bet, this is the live broadcast you are viewing.
  • Stalker:  This is a horse which is just behind the ones in the lead.
  • Wire:  This is the finish line.Workout:  A morning exercise run before the race.  The fastest one of the day at a given distance is referred to as a “bullet.”


Knowing those terms will help you to make sense of what you are witnessing when you head to the track or watch the simulcast of the race live.  The more familiar you are with horse racing terminology, the more literate you will be while you work on handicapping the race.  This will help you to pick the right horse to win, place or show!


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