Learning the Lingo



Horseracing has a language of its own, and the richness of its expressions adds to the romance of the sport. But don't let a new and different language deter you from enjoying your day at the races. Here are some good words to know.

ACROSS THE BOARD - Betting a horse to win, place and show.

APPRENTICE- A jockey at the beginning of his or her career. Because of the rider's inexperience, the mounts of an apprentice jockey receive weight allowances.

BANDAGES - Wrappings on the lower parts of horse's legs. They are used for support or to protect the legs from abrasions.

BIT - The metal bar attached to the bridle and reins and placed in the horse's mouth. The jockey can communicate with the horse by pressure on the bit through the reins.

BLINKERS - A hood with eye cups designed to limit a horse's side vision. Blinkers are frequently used to focus a horse's attention on running and also on horses that shy away from horses beside them.

CHALK - The favorite in a race.

CLASS - Thoroughbred racing has three broad classes of races. Claiming races, the most common, are for horses whose owners are willing to sell them (have them claimed) at a specific price. Next are allowance races, which have weight assignments based on the horse's accomplishments. At the top of the pyramid are stakes races, and the best of the best are graded stakes races. In North America, such races are designated Grade I, II, and III. In Europe, races of that caliber are called Group I, II, and III. The Kentucky Derby is a Grade I race. Turfway's Spiral Stakes is a Grade III race.

CLOSERS – Horses that fall back early but come running late.

COLT - A male horse from birth through age four. An older male is known as a horse. A castrated male is referred to as a gelding.

DEAD HEAT - A tie. Close finishes at the track are decided through the use of a photo-finish camera.

DISQUALIFICATION - Moving a horse down in the finishing order because of an infraction that impeded another horse. A disqualified horse is said to have had its "number taken down" from the tote board.

EXOTIC WAGERS - At one time, wagers such as the Exacta and Trifecta were so innovative that they were regarded as "exotic." Today they are among the staples of a bettor's program.

FILLY - A female horse through the age of four. An older female is known as a mare.

FRONTRUNNERS – Horses that run on or near the lead.

FULL-CARD SIMULCASTING - Transmitting entire racing cards from one track into another across state boundaries. Turfway Park offers an extensive full-card simulcasting program.

HANDICAP - A race in which horses are assigned to carry different weights according to their respective abilities and past performances.

INTERTRACK WAGERING - When races are transmitted electronically to another track within the same state and betting is conducted on those races. It is virtually synonymous with simulcasting.

LASIX - Trade name for the diuretic furosemide, commonly administerd to prevent bleeding in the horse's pulmonary system. Its use is indicated by the letter (L) in the program.

MAIDEN - A horse who has not yet won.

MUDDERS – Horses that like to run on a muddy or sloppy track.

ODDS ON - Odds less than even money, such as 3-5.

OVERWEIGHT - The difference between the weight assigned to the horse and the actual weight he carries, owing to the weight of the jockey.

STALKERS – Horses that follow, or "stalk," the early speed.

STEWARD - One of the presiding judges at a race meet. Stewards assure that the rules of racing are followed and that races are conducted fairly.