What Is Horse Racing Slang?

horse race

Horse racing is one of the world’s oldest sports and has evolved from a primitive contest of speed or stamina between two horses into a spectacular spectacle involving large fields of runners, electronic monitoring equipment and immense sums of money. The basic principle remains unchanged, however: The first horse to cross the finish line is the winner. As horse races have grown larger and more sophisticated, they have spawned an entire subculture of betting and wagering, as well as a vast vocabulary of terms and slang.

A HANDICAP RACE-A race in which the weights that each horse must carry are adjusted on the basis of age, sex and other factors. Many states also offer handicaps based on the winning history of each horse. These allowances are designed to ensure that every race is held at a level playing field and that the winners are fairly determined.

BACKED-A horse that has been backed by a significant amount of money. In the United States, a backer is known as a “punter.”

CLOSED-The time of a race when all bets are placed and accepted by the track bookmaker. Generally, closing time is at the end of the first half of the race.

CLASSIC-A major horse race, usually held in the summer and featuring an elite group of horses. The three American classics—the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes—comprise the Triple Crown series of horse races.

COSMIC RISE-A horse that has risen in popularity to become a favorite, often on the basis of its recent performance or because it is the only horse owned by a high-profile person. COSMIC RISE is a term that was coined in the 1990s and refers to a horse that has risen to prominence by leaps and bounds.

CONSOLATION-Payout received by players without a full winning ticket in a multi-race parlay (Pick Six). A consolation is usually much smaller than the total payout on a Pick 6.

DEPRESSED-A horse that has been forced to run faster than it can comfortably maintain for a long distance. This often leads to a serious health problem called exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage, or bleeding from the lungs. Many horses, especially older ones, are given drugs such as Lasix or Salix to prevent this from happening.

FALSE FAVORITE-A horse that has been backed down to the point where it no longer deserves its status as a favorite.

FEES-Amount paid to the owner of a horse for entry into a race and, in some cases, training and breeding fees.

GAZE-To stare at something intently, as a horse may do while racing.

GRADE-Rating of a race, usually determined by a panel of experts that considers the quality of the field and the horse’s previous performances.

Once British soldiers returned from desert battlefields with stories of their opponents’ astoundingly swift horses, breeders sought to produce leaner, faster equines. This led to the development of a new breed of horse, known as the Thoroughbred. Today, all modern thoroughbreds can trace their heritage back to the Godolphin Arabian, Byerley Turk and Darley Arabian, three stallions who dominated racing from the 1700’s until the 1800’s. Today, the’speed gene’ of these three stallions can be found in 85% of all Thoroughbreds.