Horse Racing Jargon

Horse Racing is known as the sport of Kings, early records date it back to 4500 BC in Central Asia. Chariot racing showed up in the Roman Empire around 710 BC, while the first official horse race was in 1510 AD when Henry VIII was on the throne. Horse racing was then banned in 1654 by Oliver Cromwell, but was brought back upon his death in 1654 by Charles II. And  in the USA;  official horse racing bagan in 1665 in Salisbury, New York. It really is the Sport of Kings, and Queens.


Across the Board (ATB) - Choosing the same horse to win, place and show in a single race. The total wager costs three times as much as a single bet. If the horse wins, the player collects on all three wagers. If it places second, the player collects on the place and show bets. If it finishes third, the player collects only the show bet.

Also-Ran - A horse doesn’t come in first (win) second (show), or third (place).

Apron – The section next to the racetrack where players can watch the race close up and personal.

Backstretch – The straight section on the track between the curves.

Bet – To bet on a horse to come in first (win) second (show), or third (place).

Betting Limit - The minimum and/or maximum dollar amount set by the bookmaker (bookie) that the player can put down on a single bet.

Blanket Finish – When so many horses cross the wire that is looks like a blanket, many times resulting in a photo finish.

Book - A sportsbook inside a casino, a stand-alone structure, or an individual who sets odds and accepts wagers on the outcome of horse races and sporting events.

Bookie - A short term for bookmaker, the person who takes your bets. Back in the day bets were mainly taken on sports events or horse and car racing, but nowadays bets can be taken on many different types  of social events as in political races, the entertainment industry such as who will win the Oscar, Grammy or Emmy awards. In fact, your bookie can take wagers on how many children a celebrity couple may have, or how long a Royal Couple will stay together. If anything at all is happening I'm pretty sure your bookie will accept your bet.

Bookmaker – See Bookie.

Clocker - Someone who times the workouts of the horses at the track.

Colt –Male horse

Crow’s Nest A high vantage point where the racetrack announcer and track officials sit to monitor the races.

Daily Double - A wager where the player picks the winners of the first and second race.

Dead Heat - When two or more horses cross the finish line at the same time. Another instance when you have the “photo finish”.

Edge - To have an advantage over an opponent or in a casino over the house.

Even Money - A bet that pays the player the same amount that he wagered plus his original bet.

Exacta - Betting on a race when the first and second place horses are picked to cross the finish line in a specific order.

Favorite - The horse having the best chance to win the race

Filly – Female horse

Fixed - As in the fix is in. In baseball it would be the 1919 White (Black) Sox who were known to have taken money in exchange for playing below their normal standard of ability. A boxer might take a phony hit and pretend to get knocked out, a ball player may intentionally drop a ball or strike out on purpose. A jockey could intentionally slow his horse down on purpose.

Foal –A horse at birth

Forced Out - When a horse is crowded to the outside by one or more of the other jockeys, or horses.

Front Runner: The horse who takes the lead in the race and sets the pace of the race.

Furlong – A measurement used in horse racing. A furlong is 220 yards, or 660 feet.

Handicapper- The person who thoroughly studies the information then uses it for himself, or oftentimes sells his information to others who hope the information will improve their odds of winning a bet. It can be a profitable business

Handle -Total amounts of wagers taken.

Hedge -To bet the opposite of your original wager in order to reduce your exposure.

High Roller- A wise guy, a player, heavy hitter, one who bets large amounts of money.

Holding Your Own - You're doing fairly well, at least breaking even.

Hot Tip - Reliable information to help influence the way you will bet on a particular event.

Infield - The area surrounded by the racetrack.

Interference - Intentional physical contact that obstructs the running of horses in a race or players in a game.

In the Money - A first, second or third-place finish.

Length - The margin equal to the length of one horse. Length is used to describe the position of a horse, relative to his competitors during calls or at the finish of the race.

Limit - The maximum wager accepted by the house or bookmaker before the odds, points or price will be changed. Essentially, it is a cap on the amount a player can wager.

Line - Refers to the listed odds, points, money line or point spread for any given event.

Linemaker - The person who establishes the original and subsequent betting lines for an event.

Long Odds - Relatively small odds given that an event will occur.

Long Shot - An extreme underdog.

MTP - An acronym for minutes-to-post, i.e., the time remaining before the start of a particular race.

No Action - The situation where no wagers can be accepted by the house because a game has already started. Also, all sporting events must be played on the date and site as scheduled unless otherwise specified. Any event postponed, rescheduled or moved to another site will automatically constitute "No Action.

Nose - Racing term for the winning by the slightest margin.

Oddsmaker - The person who establishes the original and subsequent betting lines for an event. Also referred to as a linemaker.

Odds on Favorite - The horse who most linemakers feel have the best chance to win.

Past Performance - An accurate record of the performance of specific teams, horses, or participants.

Perfecta - A wager on two horses, in a single race, to finish first and second in a specific order. 

Photo Finish When a camera is used to correctly conclude what horse won a tight race.

Pick Six - A combination bet on the six winners of six consecutive races; and it can really pay off.

Pick Three - A combination wager on the three winners of three consecutive races.

Post Time - The time the race begins.

Program A guide usually given out at the entrance to the seating area of the track that has the pertinent information to help those betting on that day’s races including detailed data to assist players to handicap the races.

Quinella A wager on two horses to finish first and second, in any order, in a single designated race.

Rollover – The number number of times you need to bet the bonus money before you can withdraw out any bonus winnings.

Score - To win big.

Scratch – In horse racing if the scheduled horse is taken out of the race for any number of reasons the horse will be announced before the race as being scratched.

Sharp A wise guy, one who is good at gambling.

Show – if you bet your horse to show, you would collect your winnings if her came in either first, second, or third.

Sire The male horse who is the father of the foal. A horse is a foal from birth to one year old.

Smart Money - Money wagered on sides by good handicappers. As the smart money is on Horse B in the second race.

Stake - Money bet on a specific event.

Straight Bet - Betting on a single horse  to win that one race.

Superfecta A bet placed on any four horses to cross the finish line in a certain order. Another big payout bet if you win.

TouA person who is selling information he has on a certain, horse, team, player, etc.

Trifecta – A bet when you wager on three horses you think will end up first, second, and third in the order you choose. Another bet which pays out Big Time!

Underdog The horse considered to have the worst chance of winning. Another way to win big if you bet that horse to win and he/she does.

Underlay – When a horse goes off at higher odds than he should have.

Value – when you get good odds on your bet.

Vigorish- The amount of money paid to your bookmaker. It’s also called Vig or Juice by wise guys.

VIP – When your treated like a Very Important Person. Like when you win big and the casino wants you back; they pay your transpo, room (suite), meals, etc.

Void – Cancelled, invalid.

Wager The amount of money you put down on a bet.

Win – LOL, I don’t know why I’m telling you this, but when you horse, team, or your hand wins.

Winner's Circle – Right where you want your horse to be, on display in the winner’s circle.

Wire - The certified finish line of the race.

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