Horse Racing Glossary H-P
* A-G .
Below are the explainations of the terms from H-P
- Hand - Four inches. A horse's height is measured
in hands and inches from the top of the shoulder
(withers) to the ground, e.g., 15.2 hands is
15 hands, 2 inches. Thoroughbreds typically
range from 15 to 17 hands.
- Handicap - 1) Race for which the track handicapper
assigns the weights to be carried. Each horse
is allocated a different weight to carry, the
theory being all horses then run on a fair and
equal basis.. 2) To make selections on the basis
of past performances.
- Handicapper - The official who decides the
weights to be carried in handicap events, and
the grading of horses and greyhounds.
- Hand Ride - The jockey urges a horse with
the hands and arms without using the whip.
- Hard (track) - A condition of a turf course
where there is no resiliency to the surface.
- Head - A margin between horses. One horse
leading another by the length of its head.
- Head Of The Stretch - Beginning of the straight
run to the finish line.
- Heavy (track) - Wettest possible condition
of a turf course, similar to muddy but slower;
not usually found in North America.
- Hedge - The covering of a bet with a second
- Hedging - A bet made by a cautious bookie
on a horse on which he has accepted large bets
- in order to cut his losses if the horse wins
(also known as a 'lay-off bet').
- Heinz - A Heinz is a multiple bet consisting
of 57 bets involving 6 selections in different
events. The multiple bet breakdown is 15 doubles,
20 trebles, 15x4-folds, 6x5-folds and one 6-fold.
- High Weight - Highest weight assigned or carried
in a race.
- Home Turn - The final turn a horse must travel
around before entering the home straight in
the run to the finish line.
- Horse - When reference is made to sex, a 'horse'
is an ungelded male five-years-old or older.
- Hung - A horse holding the same position,
unable to make up distance on the winner.
- Impost - Weight carried or assigned.
- In Hand - Running under moderate control,
at less than best pace.
- Inquiry - Reviewing the race to check into
a possible infraction of the rules. Also, a
sign flashed by officials on the tote board
on such occasions. If lodged by a jockey, it
is called an objection.
- In The Money - Describes the horses in a race
that finish 1st, 2nd and 3rd (and sometimes
4th) or the horses on which money will be paid
to bettors, depending on the place terms.
- In The Red - Are odds shown in red on the
betting boards because they are Odds-On bets.
- Investor - A bettor. A person at a licensed
race meeting who bets with a bookmaker or the
totalisator, or a person not present at the
meeting, but places bets on the horses engaged
at that meeting with the off-course totalisator.
- Joint Favourites - When a sportsbook or bookmaker
cannot separate two horses or teams for favouritism,
they are made joint favourites.
- Judge - The person who declares the official
placing for each race.
- Juice - The bookmaker's commission, also known
as vigorish or vig.
- Jumper - Steeplechase or hurdle horse.
- Jolly - The favourite in a race. The horse
with the shortest odds.
- Judge - The official who determines the finishing
order of a race.
- Juvenile - Two-year-old horse.
- Key Horse - The main expected winning horse
used in multiple combinations in an exotic wager.
- Kite - UK slang for a cheque ('Check' in the
- Late Double - A second daily double offered
during the latter part of the program. See 'Daily
- Lay - Take a bet on, like a Bookmaker.
- Lay Off, Layoff - Bets made by one bookmaker
with another bookmaker, in an effort to reduce
his liability in respect of bets already laid
by him with investors.
- LBO - Acronym for 'Licensed Betting Office'
in the UK.
- Leg In - To nominate one runner to win with
a selection of other runners. This is possible
on Forecast, Quinella, Trifecta, Quartet and
Superfecta (eg. Quinella bet with selection
4 to win, from runners 5, 7, 8 and 9 to come
second, in any order).
- Length - A measurement approximating the length
of a horse from nose to tail, about 8 feet,
used to denote distance between horses in a
race. For example, "Secretariat won the Belmont
by 31 lengths".
- Lengthen - The opposite of 'Shorten'. Referred
to odds getting longer, that is, more attractive
to the bettor.
- Listed Race - A stakes race just below a group
race or graded race in quality.
- Lock - (As in 'Banker') US term for an almost
certain winner. Easy winner.
- Long Odds - More than 10:1.
- Long Shot - (Also, Outsider) An runner is
often referred to as being a long shot, because
of the fact it is returning high odds and is
therefore deemed to have little chance of winning
- Lug In (Out) - Action of a tiring horse, bearing
in or out, failing to keep a straight course.
- Maiden - 1) A horse or rider that has not
won a race. 2) A female that has never been
- Maiden Race - A race for non-winners.
- Mare - Female horse five-years-old or older.
- Market - The list of all horses engaged in
a race and their respective odds.
- Meeting - A collection of races conducted
by a club on the same day or night forms a race
- Middle Distance - Broadly, from one mile to
- Mile Rate - In harness racing it is the approximate
time a horse would have run per mile (1609 meters).
- Minus Pool - A mutuel pool caused when a horse
is so heavily played that, after deductions
of state tax and commission, there is not enough
money left to pay the legally prescribed minimum
on each winning bet. The racing association
usually makes up the difference.
- Money Rider - A rider who excels in rich races.
- Monkey - GBP£ 500.
- Morning Glory - Horse who performs well in
morning workouts but fails to fire in actual
- Morning Line - Approximate odds quoted before
- Mudder - A horse that races well on muddy
tracks. Also known as a 'Mudlark'.
- Muddy (track) - A condition of a racetrack
which is wet but has no standing water.
- Mutuel Pool - Short for 'Parimutuel Pool'.
Sum of the wagers on a race or event, such as
the win pool, daily double pool, exacta pool,
- Nap - The selection that racing correspondents
and tipsters nominate as their strongest selection
of the day or meeting. Reputed to stand for
- National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA)
- A non-profit, membership organization created
in 1997 to improve economic conditions and public
interest in Thoroughbred racing.
- Neck - Unit of measurement about the length
of a horse's neck.
- Nickel - A $500 wager.
- Nod - Lowering of head. To win by a nod, a
horse extends its head with its nose touching
the finish line ahead of a close competitor.
- Nominations - The complete list of runners
entered by owners and trainers for a race.
- Nose - Smallest advantage a horse can win
by. Called a short head in Britain.
- Nursery - A handicap for two-year-old horses.
- Oaks - A stakes event for three-year-old fillies
- Objection - Claim of foul lodged by rider,
patrol judge or other official after the running
of a race. If lodged by official, it is called
- Odds - The sportsbook's or bookmaker's view
of the chance of a competitor winning (adjusted
to include a profit). The figure or fraction
by which a bookmaker or totalisator offers to
multiply a bettor's stake, which the bettor
is entitled to receive (plus his or her own
stake) if their selection wins.
- Odds-against - Where the odds are greater
than evens (e.g. 5 to 2). When the bookmaker's
or totalisator's stake is greater than the bettor's
stake. For example, a horse that is quoted at
4:1 would be odds against, because if it wins
a race, the bookmaker or totalisator returns
$4 for every dollar a bettor places on that
horse, plus his or her original outlay.
- Odds Compiler - Same as 'Oddsmaker' below.
- Oddsmaker - A person who sets the betting
odds. (Sportsbooks or Bookies don't set the
odds. Most major sportsbooks use odds set by
Las Vegas oddsmakers.)
- Odds Man (US) - At tracks where computers
are not in use, an employee who calculates changing
odds as betting progresses.
- Odds-On - Odds of less than even money. This
a bet where you have to outlay more than you
win. For example if a horse is two to one Odds-On,
you have to outlay two dollars to win one dollar
and your total collect if the horse wins is
three dollars. That is made up of your two dollars
and the one dollar you win.
- Official - Sign displayed when result is confirmed.
Also racing official.
- Off the Board (US) - A horse so lightly bet
that its pari-mutuel odds exceed 99 to 1. Also,
a game or event on which the bookie will not
- Off-Track Betting (OTB) - Wagering at legalized
- On The Board - Finishing among the first three.
- On The Nose - Betting a horse to win only.
- On tilt - Going 'on tilt' is losing the ability
to rationalise bets and betting wildly on every
- Open Ditch - Steeplechase jump with a ditch
on the side facing the jockey.
- Outlay - The money a bettor wagers is called
his or her outlay.
- Out Of The Money - A horse that finishes worse
- Outsider - A horse that is not expected to
win. An outsider is usually quoted at the highest
- Overbroke - Where the book results in a loss
for the bookmaker.
- Overlay - A horse going off at higher odds
than it appears to warrant based on its past
- Overnight Race - A race in which entries close
a specific number of hours before running (such
as 48 hours), as opposed to a stakes race for
which nominations close weeks and sometimes
months in advance.
- Over The Top - When a horse is considered
to have reached its peak for that season.
- Overweight - Surplus weight carried by a horse
when the rider cannot make the assigned weight.
- Pacesetter - The horse that is running in
front (on the lead).
- Paddock - Area where horses are saddled and
kept before post time.
- Panel - A slang term for a furlong.
- Parimutuel(s) - A form of wagering originated
in 1865 by Frenchman Pierre Oller in which all
money bet is divided up among those who have
winning tickets, after taxes, takeout and other
deductions are made. Oller called his system
'Parier Mutuel' meaning 'Mutual Stake' or 'betting
among ourselves'. As this wagering method was
adopted in England it became known as 'Paris
Mutuals', and soon after 'Parimutuels'.
- Parlay - (Also, Accumulator) A multiple bet.
A kind of 'let-it-ride' bet. Making simultaneous
selections on two or more races with the intent
of pressing the winnings of the first win on
the bet of the following race selected, and
so on. All the selections made must win for
you to win the parlay.
- Part Wheel - Using a key horse or horses in
different, but not all possible, exotic wagering
- Pasteboard Track - A lightning fast racing
- Patent - A multiple bet consisting of 7 bets
involving 3 selections in different events.
A single on each selection, plus 3 doubles and
- Penalty - A weight added to the handicap weight
of a horse.
- Permutations - It is possible to Perm bets
or selections (e.g. on 4 selections all the
possible doubles could be Permed making 6 bets).
- Phone Betting - A service enabling punters
to bet on horses with bookmakers by using telephones.
- Phone TAB - Another phone betting service,
provided by a totalisator which allows people
with special betting accounts to place bets
via the telephone. Much the same as a bank account,
you must have a credit balance to be able to
place a bet. The cost of the investment is debited
to your account, and winning dividends and refunds
are automatically credited to your account.
- Photo Finish - A photo is automatically taken
as the horses pass the winning line and when
the race is too close to be judged the photo
is used to determine the order of finish.
- Picks - Betting selections, usually by an
- Pick Six (or more) - A type of wager in which
the winners of all the included races must be
- Pitch - The position where a bookmaker conducts
his business on a racecourse.
- Place - Finish in the top two, top three,
top four and sometimes also top five in a competition
or event. A Place bet will win if the selection
you bet on is among those placed. Usually, a
horse runs a place if it finishes in the first
three in fields of eight or more horses. If
there are only six or seven runners the horse
must finish first or second to place. Different
sportsbooks have different Place terms and you
should check their rules before placing a bet.
In US, 2nd place finish. (See 'Each Way' UK)
- Plater - Horse which usually runs in selling
- Point Spread - (Also, Line or Handicap) The
points allocated to the 'underdog' to level
the odds with the 'favorite/favourite'.
- Pole(s) - Markers at measured distances around
the track designating the distance from the
finish. The quarter pole, for instance, is a
quarter of a mile from the finish, not from
- Pony - GBP£ 25.
- Pool - Mutuel pool, the total sum bet on a
race or a particular bet.
- Post - 1) Starting point for a race. 2) An
abbreviated version of post position. For example,
"He drew post four". 3) As a verb, to record
a win. For example, "He's posted 10 wins in
- Post Position - Position of stall in starting
gate from which a horse starts.
- Post Time - Designated time for a race to
- Price - The odds.
- Protest - When a jockey, owner, trainer or
steward alleges interference by one party against
another during a race that may have affected
the outcome of a race. If a protest is upheld
by officials, the runner that caused the interference
is placed directly after the horse interfered
with. If a protest is dismissed by officials,
the original result of the race stands.
- Punt - Another term for bet or wager.
- Punter - Bettor or investor.
- Pull Up - To stop or slow a horse during or
after a race or workout.