Horse Racing Vocabulary

horse race

Horse races are a popular pastime for millions of people on a global scale. In addition to watching the race itself, many fans place bets on which horses will cross the finish line first, second or third. These bets can be placed on individual horses or accumulator bets in which multiple bets are placed at once. Regardless of the method in which bets are placed, there is a certain vocabulary associated with horse racing that should be understood by any fan looking to make informed decisions while betting on horse races.

The sport of horse racing is not without controversy. A number of equine athletes have been found to be illegally drugged, leading some to question the integrity of horse racing. The fact is, however, that most horse races are run under a set of rules imposed by national and international governing bodies. These rules are intended to ensure that the sport remains as safe and fair as possible.

There are two most common ways that bettors place their wagers on a race: betting to win or betting to show. When a person bets to win, they are betting that their horse will cross the finish line in first place. In contrast, a person who bets to show is betting that their horse will finish in either first or second place. This bet type is a bit riskier than the win bet as the payoffs for’show’ are typically lower on average.

PATROL JUDGE(S)-Official(s) observing a race from various vantage points around the track. patrol judges often stand on the far side of the track, near the turns.

POLE(S)-Markers at various measured distances around a racetrack designating the distance from the finish. The poles for a one-mile race are, for example, located at the quarter, half and three-quarters poles.

PRINCIPALS-The official in charge of a race or event. PRINCIPALS ARE OFTEN THE SAME IN MOST RACES.

RACEHORSE-Horse that has a sire and dam who are purebred members of the same breed. A racehorse must have a pedigree in order to participate in a flat race or a steeplechase.

A DREAM FINISH-A dead heat. In a dead heat, a photograph of the finish is studied by the stewards to determine who crossed the line first.

BROKEN HORSE-An injury that causes a horse to buck or fall. The horse may be forced to retire from the race.

BLINKERS-Device worn on a horse’s head to limit his vision and prevent him from swerving off course due to other horses or objects in close proximity.

PARKED-Horse that is parked and is not participating in a race.

PHOTO FINISH-When horses cross the finish line together and it is impossible to judge who won. In this case, a photo is taken and the winner determined by analyzing it for the best result.

A horse that is ‘pinched back’ during a race is forced to slow down or stop due to competing with horses in tight quarters. This can lead to exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage, which is bleeding in the lungs. To decrease this possibility, some horses are given medications such as Lasix and Salix. These are a mixture of legal and illegal drugs that increase blood flow to the lungs and are reputed to enhance performance.