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Horse Race Betting Vocabulary

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A horse racing on the outside with at least one horse between him and the inside rail or barrier.

Post position

A horse's position in the starting gate, numbered from the inner rail outward.


The amount of prize money distributed to the owners of the first five or six finishers in a race (varies by state).



Qualifying Race

A race without a purse or betting used to determine a horse's ability and manners. Horses that have made repeated breaks in stride or have been away from the races for a long period of time must race in a qualifying race before being allowed to race in a betting race.

Quinella Double

A wager type that requires the selection of the first two finishers, regardless of order, in each of the two specified contests. This wager type is also known as double quinella.



Register of Merit

A Register of Merit is designed to establish a record of outstanding performance. There are three Registers of Merit- one for racing, one for halter and one for performance events- but not a separate Register of Merit for each performance event.

A horse has received at least one official speed index rating of 80 or higher in racing. Qualified horses registered with the Jockey Club of New York City will be listed and treated as racing Register of Merit qualifiers for all purposes, except that they shall not receive a certificate of Register of Merit or year-end awards. Until 1956, a Grade A was a 75 or better speed index. From 1957 to 1975 Grade AA was an 85 or better. From 1976 to 1985 a Register of Merit could be earned by an 80 or better speed index, or by earning 10 racing points. From 1986 to present a Register of Merit could only be earned by a speed index of 80 or better.



Schooling Race

A non-pari-mutuel preparatory race, which conforms to requirements adopted by the state racing commission.


A horse who is withdrawn before the race starts.


The male parent of a horse.

Speed Index

An evaluation of a horse's time in a race versus the three fastest winning times for the same distance for the previous year at the same racetrack.


A race that is run over five-sixteenths of a mile, or a shorter distance.

Stakes Race

A race for a championship or for a purse larger than those offered for ordinary feature races.


The breed of horse used in harness racing, consisting of trotters and pacers. The term originates from the standard set in 1879 by the National Association of Trotting Horse Breeders in America, whereby a horse had to trot a distance of one mile in not more than 2 minutes 30 seconds to qualify for registration in the new breed.



Tongue Strap

Strap or tape bandage used to tie down a horse's tongue to prevent choking in a race or workout.


The automated system of betting on races that dispenses and records betting tickets, calculates and displays odds and payoffs, and provides a mechanism for cashing winning tickets, in which the winning bettors share the total amount bet, minus a percentage for the operators of the system, taxes etc. Synonyms include Tote and Pari-mutuel.

Tote Board

The (usually) electronic totalizator display in the infield which reflects up-to-the-minute odds. It may also show the amounts wagered in each mutuel pool, as well as information such as jockey and equipment changes. Also referred to as the Board.

Tote Returns

Returns from a tote pool (also referred to as a Dividend), calculated by taking the total stake in each pool (after the take out) and dividing it by the number of winning tickets. A dividend is declared to a fixed stake, for various win, place and forecast pools.


A race in which eligible contestants compete to determine the finalists in a nomination race.


The person responsible for keeping a race contestant in top racing condition. In Harness racing the trainer is often the driver.


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