Horse Racing Betting Explained

Don't know your furlongs from a filly? You've come to the right place - learn the lingo of horse racing, and start winning today

Welcome to the NYRA Bets glossary of horse racing betting terms. Whether you're a novice bettor looking to dip your toes into the world of horse racing or an experienced enthusiast seeking to expand your knowledge, this guide is designed to provide you with essential terminology and insights.

As you familiarize yourself with these terms, you'll gain a deeper understanding of the intricacies of horse racing and be better equipped to enjoy the thrill of the sport. Plus, to enhance your betting experience, NYRA Bets offers exciting promotions that can boost your bankroll, giving you even more opportunities to engage with horse racing at its finest.


Across the Board: A type of bet where equal amounts are placed on a horse to win, place, and show. If the horse wins, the bettor collects on all three wagers.

Allowance Race: A race where the conditions set allow horses to compete without being entered for a claiming price. These races often have specific eligibility criteria based on a horse's previous performance or earnings.

Apprentice Jockey: A young jockey who is in the early stages of their career and still learning the ropes. Apprentice jockeys receive a weight allowance to compensate for their relative lack of experience.

Bankroll: The total amount of money a bettor sets aside for horse race betting. NYRA Bets promotions are the perfect way to keep yours boosted!

Broodmare: A mare that is used for breeding, typically referred to as a mare that has produced or is expected to produce offspring.

Claiming Race: A race in which horses are entered for a specified claiming price, and any eligible buyer can purchase the horse immediately following the race.

Colt: A male horse that is under four years old.

Dirt: A race track surface typically made of clay, sand, and other materials. Dirt tracks are the most common type of racing surface and can vary in composition and consistency, affecting a horse's performance.

Filly: A female horse that is under four years old.

Furlong: A unit of distance in horse racing, approximately one-eighth of a mile, which is 220 yards or 660 feet.

Gelding: A male horse that has been castrated (neutered) to make it unable to reproduce.

Handicap: A race in which horses carry different weights to equalize their chances of winning. The weight assigned is based on the horse's ability and past performance. Handicap races aim to create a competitive field by assigning higher weights to more successful horses.

Handicapping: The process of analyzing and evaluating horses to determine their chances of winning or placing in a race. Factors considered include past performance, speed figures, jockey and trainer statistics, track conditions, and more.

In the Money: When a horse finishes in the top positions (usually first, second, or third) in a race, entitling the owner, jockey, and trainer to a share of the purse.

Inquiries and Objections: In some cases, a race may undergo an inquiry or objection if there is suspicion of a rule violation during the race. An inquiry investigates potential infractions, while an objection is lodged by a jockey, trainer, or owner against another horse or jockey. Results can be adjusted based on the outcome of inquiries or objections.

Jockey: The rider on a horse during a race who guides and controls the horse's movements. Jockeys are independent contractors who ride for the owner and trainer.

Maiden: A horse that has never won a race. Maiden races are for horses that have yet to achieve their first victory.

Mare: A mature female horse that is four years old or older.

Meet: Refers to the racing season at a race course, for example, the Saratoga Meet typically runs from late July to early September. The Saratoga meet is highly regarded and attracts top horses, trainers, and jockeys from around the country.

Morning Line: The estimated odds set by the track's handicapper before betting opens. The morning line attempts to predict the final odds of the betting public.

Paddock: The area where horses are saddled and paraded before a race. Visit the paddock to observe the horses, assess their physical condition, and gather additional information for making informed bets.

Photo Finish: A close race that requires a photograph to determine the order of finish, especially when horses cross the finish line together.

Post Position: The starting position assigned to a horse in the starting gate before the race begins. The number corresponds to the position in the starting gate and can influence a horse's strategy and potential path during the race.

Post Time: The scheduled start time for a race. Be aware of the post time for each race you plan to bet on to ensure you don't miss the opportunity to place your wagers.

Rail: Refers to the inside portion of the racetrack, closest to the inner rail or fence. The position of a horse relative to the rail during a race can impact its path, distance covered, and potential advantages or disadvantages.

Route: A race distance typically longer than a mile. Route races often require horses to have stamina and endurance to maintain their speed over the longer distance.

Scratch: When a horse is withdrawn from a race before it begins. Scratches can occur due to various reasons. Stay updated on any scratches to avoid betting on horses that are no longer competing.

Sprint: A race distance typically shorter than a mile. Sprint races emphasize speed and quick acceleration, as horses cover a shorter distance in a shorter amount of time.

Stakes Race: A high-level race featuring top horses, often with substantial prize money. Stakes races include prestigious events such as the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup. These races attract top horses, trainers, and jockeys, and they carry significant prestige and importance within the racing industry.

Stallion: A mature, intact (non-castrated) male horse.

The Spa: A nickname for Saratoga Race Course, derived from the mineral springs and spa resorts that have made Saratoga Springs a popular tourist destination.

Tote Board: The large electronic board displaying real-time odds, betting information, and race results. Use the tote board to monitor the changing odds and track the betting activity.

Track Conditions: The condition of the racetrack, which can vary from fast (dry and firm) to sloppy (wet and muddy) based on weather conditions.

Trainer: The person responsible for conditioning and preparing a horse for racing, including its physical fitness and training regimen. They work for the horse owner.

Turf: A type of race track surface that is composed of grass or a mixture of grass and soil. Turf tracks offer a different racing experience compared to dirt tracks, with considerations for turf specialists and horses that may perform better on grass.

Yielding: Refers to a turf (grass) racecourse condition that is soft and slightly wet due to recent rainfall or irrigation. A yielding turf surface can affect a horse's performance, as it may be more tiring or slower than a firmer track.

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