Horse Racing Terminology

Horse racing is one of the oldest sports in the world today, and has existed in various forms across different parts of the world for thousands of years. Today it is an organized sport that is among the most popular globally. In fact, it happens to be the second most attended sport in the USA today, and has races that have large purses for winners in terms of prize money.

Like with all other popular sports, there are a number of phrases and terms that are used commonly in horse racing. These terms have been around for hundreds of years and have also, importantly, evolved with the sport. Knowing horse racing terminology is very important for a person attending or betting on it because otherwise it may all sound like an alien language to him. You need to understand what is going on at a race track if you are attending a race, and even more importantly, if you are following it at home online on your computer, and for that understanding, knowing horse racing terminology is important.

There are terms associated with horse racing as well as horse race betting. On this page, we will list out some of the most commonly used and popular terms associated with horse racing.

Basic Horse Racing Terminology

The following are some of the basic terms associated with horse racing that you should definitely know:

  • Also-ran: This is a term that is commonly used to refer to or describe a horse that has finished poorly in a race. This term is usually used to refer to a horse that has finished either last or close to that position.

  • Blinkers: This is a term you will hear commonly at the race track, and is generally associated with horses. It is a device that is used to cover the eyes of the horse at the sides. This is done to ensure the horse’s vision is focused straight ahead on the track, and avoid its line of sight straying to the sight. A straying in the line of vision to the side can potentially cause a horse to lose focus on the path ahead.

  • Blow-out: This is a term used to refer to the exercise and physical training prior to a race.

  • Break Maiden: The term break maiden refers to a horse that has just won its first race.

  • Dead heat: A dead heat is a situation when you have two horses finishing the heat at exactly the same time. This is more like a tie situation, and there are now ways to resolve this situation.

  • Derby: This is a race meant solely for three-year old horses.

  • Favorite: This is a term used to refer to a horse that people feel has the most chance of winning a race.

  • Furlong: This term refers to a distance of track, and is usually 1/8 of a full mile.

  • Jockey: The person riding a horse during a race.

  • Longshot: This term is used to describe a horse that doesn’t have too much of a shot at winning a race.

  • Photo finish: This term refers to a race where the winner is determined by a photograph, because the race was so close that more than one horse finished at almost the same time and it is physically impossible to determine which one is the clear winner.

  • Purse: This is the money in the prize pool for a race.

  • Starting gate: This is a mechanical device that is used to ensure all the horses start out at a race simultaneously. These are only some of the terms used in a horse race. There are more terms that we will list out later.
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