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Understanding the world of horseracing

The world of horseracing is one of the most exciting of all gambling events. Unlike slot machines and table games, horseracing introduces the unknown element of a live animal with a mind of its own, and this can greatly increase the challenges, and the potential rewards of a day at the racetrack. Like every activity, the world of horseracing has its own unique language, and it is important for any would be handicapper to understand these terms and what they mean.

This article provides a handy glossary you can take with you on your next trip to the racetrack. Age - the age of a horse is easy to determine, since every horse has a birthday of January 1 for horseracing purposes. A horse turns one on the January 1 following its birth, regardless of what date it was actually born. Break - this term is used in standardbred racing, and it is used to mean the horse galloping or otherwise breaking from the trot. A horse that has broken gait is not allowed to enhance its position during the break, and the driver is expected to get the horse under control as soon as possible. However,a break does not automatically disqualify a horse.

  • Colt - a male horse aged three and under.
  • Dam - the female parent of a horse.
  • Filly - a female horse aged three and under.
  • First Over - a horse racing on the outside with no other horse directly in front of it.
  • Foal - a newborn horse.
  • Gelding - a desexed male horse of any age.
  • Green Horse - a horse who either has never raced, or who has been raced only a limited number of times.
  • Maiden - a horse who has never won a racing purse.
  • Mare - a female horse aged four and older.
  • Parked Out - a parked out horse is one who is racing on the outside with at least one horse between it and the inside rail.
  • Purse - the cash prize which will be won by the owner of the winning horse. The purse is generally distributed between the first five finishers as such: 50% to the 1st place horse, 25% for the 2nd place horse, 12%to the 3rd place horse, 8% to the 4th place horse and 5% to the 5th place finisher.
  • Qualifying race - a race which has neither a purse nor a betting line. Often a qualifying race is used to determine the abilities and the manners of the horse.
  • Scratch - a horse which has been withdrawn prior to the start of the race.
  • Sire - the male parent of the horse.
  • Trainer - the person who is responsible for keeping the racehorse in top racing form.


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