Recently, we have prepared a how to bet on horse races guide for beginners and mentioned that horse racing betting terms seem quite weird and sometimes impossible to understand.
That’s mainly because most of the horse racing terminology is in French or Latin, due to the roots of this sports event.
There are too many horse race betting terms around and we couldn’t cover them all in the mentioned guide.
So, we did the next best thing: We prepared another guide for horse racing betting terms and conditions.
Think this guide as an extended glossary and explanations horse racing article: Below, you can see all of the horse racing betting terms explained.
Top 10 bookmakers where you can bet on horse racing  - Updated list
Horse Racing Terms Betting Types: The “Straight” Ones
Let’s start this horse betting 101 guide by explaining the terms related to straight betting types. They are called “straight bets” because they are pretty basic and simple: Simply put, you will be betting on a single race and about which horse will win the event. In other words, these are the most common horse betting terms.
Win: The most basic form of horse race betting: You pick a single horse and bet that it will be the first one to pass the finish line.
Place: Horse betting terms place means that you are still selecting a single horse, but betting that it will either be the first or second one to finish the race.
Show: Your horse will finish the race either as the first, second, or third – you are betting on this possibility.
In The Money: This is a term that is used to explain that your horse finished the race either as first, second, or third. So basically, if you have placed a win/place/show bet, you are qualified for a prize.
On The Nose: This is another horse betting term for win bets. Your horse must win the race – if it is second or third, you will lose the bet.
Across The Board: Horse betting terms across the board means that you are betting on three possibilities at once – win, place, and show. This one is also known as horse betting terms win place show, for this reason. If the horse you select wins all races, you win all of these bets too. If that horse finishes all the races as second, you win only the place and show bets. And if it is the third horse to pass the finish line, you win only the show bet. This one is similar to parlay bets in regular sports betting, but you don’t take a big risk – as long as the horse of your choice is the third in all races, you still qualify for a payout.
Exotic Horse Betting Terms Explained
Straight race horse betting terms are easy to understand: After all, they are pretty simple outcomes. But it is also possible to place a bet for “extraordinary” outcomes too – these will happen less often but pay bigger. Such bets are called “exotic” for this reason, and the horse racing glossary for them is a little complex. Here is everything you need to know:
Box: Horse betting terms box means that you are playing an exacta, superfecta, or trifecta bet, but you are also betting on all possible combinations about the winning order. In other words, you are “boxing” your selections. As long as the horses you pick wins the races, you win the bet too – the winning order is not important. See below for explanations of horse betting terms exacta, trifecta, and superfecta.
Exacta: You are betting on a single race and pick two horses. You are also determining which one will be the first, and which one will be the second. If the horses win the race in this exact order, you win the bet too.
Each Way: Horse betting terms each way means that you are betting on a single horse and a single race, but on two possibilities: Your horse may finish as the first, or in any of the positions offered in that race. As long as the horse finishes in the top 3, you get paid. In other words, this is actually a “show” bet. However, it is still a little different from the show bet because, in some races, you will still qualify for a payout even if your horse finishes as the fourth. This depends on the race type and runway length.
Handicap/Handicap Race: Each horse is unique: They have different weights, performances, and track records. As a result, each horse has a different chance of winning a race. For example, if a specific horse is heavier than the rest of the horses in a race, it has a “handicap”. A handicap race is betting on whether the horse will be able to overcome this handicap and still win the race (or finish in top 3). These races pay more than regular ones as their odds are higher.
Quinella: This is very similar to the exacta betting, but with an important difference: You do not need to determine the winning order. You pick two horses and as long as they are the first and second ones to finish the race, you win the bet.
Trifecta: Horse betting terms trifecta means that you are selecting three horses in a single race and determine their win order. It is the “upgraded” version of exacta bets with three horses.
Superfecta: Horse betting terms superfecta means that you will select four horses in a single race and determine their winning order. Same as trifecta but with four horses.
Daily Double: This means placing two win bets on two different races. You pick two races and bet on which horses will win both.
Pick 3: Placing a win bet on three different races. Same as daily double but with three races.
Pick 4: Placing a win bet on four different races.
Pick 6: Placing a win bet on six different races. If you are good enough to determine the winning horses in six races, the payout will be incredibly big.
Wheel: Horse betting terms wheel means that you are pacing multiple trifecta bets on multiple races.
“Weird” Betting Terms In Horse Racing
These are all the horse betting glossary common terms explained, but some betting terms in horse racing are simply… weird. Most of these are slang words but used pretty common in horse bets. Here they are:
Bridge Jumper: A bettor who places a significantly large wager on a single horse, usually 100.000 EUR or more. In the casino world, they are known as “whales”.
Dead Heat: This is a rare condition where two horses cross the finish line at the same time, and even a photo-finish cannot determine which one is the winner. In other words, it is a tie and technically, both the horses win. In such situations, you get half of your initial wager back.
Inquiry: This is a literal term. At the end of each race, an inspection is carried out to determine whether it was fair and in compliance with the rules. Inquiry is the short name of this audition.
Objection: Another literal term. After a race, the jockey, trainer or owner of the horse may object to an irregularity in the race. This happens during the inquiry phase.
Rabbit: An underdog horse that has no chance of winning. But it still enters the race, to tire out the front runners and boost the chance of another horse.
Rogue: A horse that acts aggressively on the field.
Shadow Roll: The wool roll on the face of the horses. It is used to prevent the horses from seeing their own shadows.
Horse Racing Odds Explained: A Simple But Important Horse Betting Term
Understanding horse racing odds is as important as learning horse betting terms. So, let’s explain horse racing odds too and find out what do odds mean in horse racing.
X/Y: The odds of a horse racing bet will always be displayed in this format. For example, 2/3, 4/6, 9/1, etc. These numbers show how much your payout will be. There is a simple formula to calculate the payout: You multiply the first number with your bet amount. Divide the result with the second number. Add your bet amount to this result. And the final figure will show your payout. So, for example, if you are betting 2 EUR on a race with 9/2 odds, the payout will be 11 EUR, because:
- 9 X 2 = 18
- 18 / 2 = 9
- 9 + 2 = 11
If you want to learn what are horse betting terms, you must always start with learning the odds. The horse racing betting terminology is quite large, but the odds are the determining factor of your prize amount. Finding the best odds for a particular race is of crucial importance, as all online bookmakers offer different rates. New independent bookmakers tend to offer higher odds. Take a look at our other horse racing betting explained guides to learn more about this subject.
All Other Horse Racing Terms Explained: The Rest Of The Terms You Need To Know
So far, we have listed all the commonly used horse betting terms in this glossary of terms article. However, there are still a lot more horse racing terms for betting. This will be the longest section of this horse racing betting terms article, so let’s start and list the remaining ones in alphabetic order.
Allowance or Allowance Race: In each race, the horses must carry a certain amount of weight. However, in some cases, some horses may be allowed to carry less weight (usually less than 5 pounds). Such horses are “maiden” horses that have not previously won a race. Races where horses are “allowed” to run with less weight are called “allowance”.
Also Eligible or “AE”: The horse who has entered the race but is not allowed to run unless another horse is disqualified (scratched) from the race.
Apprentice Jockey: As the name implies, an un-experienced jockey, who is in training. Another name is “bug boy”.
Backstretch: The stable area, usually located at the far side of the tracks.
Baby Race: This means each horse in that race is 2-year-old. In other words, they are not experienced enough.
Blinkers: The name of the apparatus placed around the eyes of the horses. It restricts the field of view of the horse and prevents distraction.
Break Maiden: Horses that have not yet won a race are called “maiden”. Breaking maiden is a name given to a horse winning its first race.
Breeze: A term that is used to determine the running speed of a horse. Breeze is moderate speed.
Broodmare: A female horse used for breeding.
Broodmare dam: This means the horse has a famous “mother and father”. Victorious racehorses are specially mated and their children are named “dam”.
Broodmare sire: A male horse used for breeding.
Bug Boy: Apprentice jockey, as explained above.
Bull Ring: A very short race track. It is usually shorter than a mile.
Carryover: If nobody has won a prize for a particular horse race betting type, the prize money will be “carried over” to the next race, and it will be increased as a result. For example, if all the bets were “pick 4” and none of the bettors were successful, the next pick 4 bet for the next race will pay more.
Claiming Race: In these races, it is possible to “purchase” (claim) the horses before the event starts. Basically, anybody can write the name of a horse, his own name, and deposit the money upfront up until 15 minutes the race starts. When the horses start the race, the ownership immediately transfers to the new guy – if that horse wins the race, the reward goes to the new owner. If more than one person claims a single horse, a simple draw is organized to determine the owner.
Clocker: There is a guy in hippodromes who times all the races and workouts of the horses. His name is “clocker”.
Clubhouse Turn: The first turn of the horses on the runway. Race tracks are usually oval, and the horses make their first turn pretty soon after starting the race.
Colt: A horse betting term that is used for male horses that are exactly 5 years old.
Condition: This is the name of a specific race type. A condition race is filled with horses that share the same “condition”, such as being maiden horses, being 2-year-old, etc.
Consolation: If the horse you placed a bet on is pulled from the race at the last minute, the bookmaker/hippodrome will refund a small percentage of your initial bet, as the “consolation prize”.
Dam: Same as the broodmare dam, look above.
Dark: A horse with no previous history. Gamblers have no idea how it will perform so it is hard to specify the odds & winning chances. It is also used as a political term.
Derby: A derby is a specific horse race type where all the horses are exactly 3-years-old. However, it is used as a general horse betting term nowadays and it is possible to see 4-year-olds running in derby races. A derby is usually 2.4 kilometers long.
Distance of Ground: A horse race that requires making two turns on the runway.
Dog: The name of the barriers that are placed around the runway (not to be confused with dog betting)
Eased: This is actually an important horse race betting term: It means the jockey deliberately slowed a horse to prevent injuries.
Fast Track: This means the race track is in optimum condition: It is dry, fast, and even.
Filly: A female horse under 4 years old. For some reason, the British use this term for horses under 5 years old.
Fire Sale: This means the claiming price of a racehorse is suddenly (and significantly) dropped.
Foal: A newly born racehorse, can be male or female.
Form: Short for horse racing form. It is a piece of paper you can get at hippodromes that include all the races, horses, and track names.
Fractions: Horse racing bet odds can be fractional or decimal. Fractional odds are shown as X/Y, as explained above. Decimal odds are straight numbers, such as 1.10, 2.30, 4.20, etc. The majority of horse race betting odds are shown as fractions.
Front Runner: The horse who is the current leader in a race. It does not mean “winner”. During the race, any horse can become a front runner.
Furlong: A furlong is exactly 220 yards (201 meters). There are usually 5 to 8 furlongs in a horse race.
Gelding: A castrated male horse. Unless it will be used for breeding, all male racehorses are castrated. This is done to make them easier to handle.
Going: The track condition for grass tracks. For example, “easy-going” means that the track is in excellent condition to race.
Graded Race: Every horse gets a different “grade” after each race, according to its performance and unique features, such as its weight. In this regard, there are three different grades. A graded race means that all competing horses belong to the same grade, and almost equal to each other in terms of performance and features.
Half-sister: Two horses that have the same mother but different fathers.
Handily: A faster running speed than breezing, but still not that fast.
Handle: The total amount of bets for a single race.
Hand Ride: If the jockey guides the horse with his hands rather than a whip, this is called a hand ride.
Heavy Track: The condition of the track – heavy tracks are filled with water and muddy.
In-Hand: A faster running speed than handily, but still not at the maximum level.
Irons: Stirrups of the horse. Jockeys put their feet in these.
Jockey agent: A literal term. These agents represent jockeys and negotiate with horse owners for riding fees. They get a commission with every contract.
Juvenile: A term for a 2-year-old horse, male or female.
Look of Eagles: If a horse has a confident look, it has the look of “eagles”.
Lug In: If a horse fails to keep a straight course, this means it is very tired. This situation is called “lugging in”.
Maiden: The name for the horses which have not won a race so far.
Marathon: This is an eccentric race where “humans” compete against racehorses. It is called “Man vs Horse” and 35 kilometers long. Note that the race is shorter than an official marathon, which is actually 42 kilometers long.
Mare: A female horse more than 4 years old.
Middle Distance: A specific type of horse races, where the horses run between 1.990 and 2.599 meters.
Miler: Horses showing their best performances in races under one mile.
Minus Pool: Means that there are so many winners in this race, the bookmaker is unable to pay everyone back after deducting taxes. Don’t worry: In this case, the racing commissions pay up the difference.
Morning Line Odds: Odds of horse racing bets can keep changing until the race starts. Morning line odds are the first ones offered by the bookmaker (at the beginning of a day), and they are usually the best rates.
Muddy Track: A literal term, means that the race track is muddy.
Oaks: A special horse race for 3-year-old horses. The runway is about 2.400 meters long.
Odds Board: The name of the board in which the odds are displayed in real time. There is one in each hippodrome.
Off the Board: On the board means that the horse has finished the race in top 4, so its name is listed “on the board”. Off the board is the opposite: It means that the horse was not in the top 4.
Off the Pace: It means a specific horse is lagging back at the start of a race.
Off-track: Placing a horse racing bet outside of the hippodrome, and in a licensed gambling booth.
Optional Claimer: Sometimes, in claiming races, horse owners want to limit the purchase (claim) option. So, you can’t buy these horses by just filling out a form, you should contact the owner.
Overlay: An over-priced horse. If a horse is getting unusually high odds even it has no performance record to deserve such rates, this is called an “overlay” bet.
Pace: The running speed of the horse.
Pari-mutuels: Mutual betting, also known as “pool betting”. There are no fixed odds and all bettors place money into a shared pool. When the race ends, the money in the pool is divided among the winners.
Post: The starting point of the horses in a race.
Quarter Crack: A fracture in the hoof of a horse. It is a serious health condition as fractures can get infected pretty quick and prevent the horse from running.
Quarter Pole: The race tracks are filled with markers to determine certain distances. Quarter Pole is the marker that shows only a quarter of a mile left until the finish line.
Rank: A difficult to control horse, which is nearly impossible to rate early in the pace.
Rate: A horse that runs well and exactly the way the jockey wants.
Route: A unit of measure. A route is higher than 7 furlongs.
School: Training a horse with practice races.
Scratch: To be disqualified from a race.
Shake Up: The jockey “shakes up” the horse and encourages it to run faster by using the reins, whip, or the heels.
Shipper: A horse that traveled between two different tracks on the same day.
Shut Out: A horse that cannot improve its position in the race.
Sloppy Track: This means the race track is wet but not muddy.
Spit the Bit: A term used by jockeys. It means the horse has tried to spit out the reins, and the jockey could not encourage it enough to run faster.
Sprint: A horse race that is shorter than 7 furlongs.
Stewards: The “general manager” of horse races. They oversee races to ensure that rules and regulations are being followed.
Tag: A literal term. Means that the horse has a price tag and running in a claiming race.
Track Take: The commission of the track (hippodrome) from a pari-mutuel bet.
Trip: This horse betting term is used in two ways: “Dropping in trip” means that the current race of the horse is shorter than the previous one. And “up in trip” means the opposite: The current race is longer than the previous one.
Turf Course: A grass racing track with a large amount of moisture.
Under Wraps: Slowing the horse down in order to hide its actual performance. Jockeys do this during practice races by pulling the reins more than necessary.
Washed Out: A nervous horse that keeps sweating.
The Next Step After Reading This Horse Racing Betting Terms Glossary
All of the important betting terms glossary and explanations are listed above, and you have learned what do horse betting terms mean. The next step is simple: You should find an online bookmaker that offers the best odds, and put these horse betting terms to use.
We are ready to help you in this regard too: We already picked the best online bookies out there, and you can start your adventure in any of them without waiting. Knowing the horse racing terminology will always give you an advantage, and you will be able to spot the best bets & odds easily.
We also recommend reading our other articles about horse betting too – they all contain valuable information that will increase your chances of winning. Good luck out there and may your horses always win!