The Kentucky Derby is just two days away and although we can’t tell you who will win, we have made this handy A-Z of racing terms.
A – Across the Board
To bet a horse to win, place, or show (place first, second, or third) in the race.
B – Backstretch
This describes the straight portion of the track furthest from the grandstand. Not to be confused with the Backside, which is the stabling area!
C – Colors
The jacket and cap worn by the jockeys, also known as silks. Every owner has their own distinct colors, which help viewers identify horses traveling 40mph.
D – Dead Heat
Two (or more) horses finishing in a tie at the wire.
E – Exacta
A wager where the bettor picks the first two finishers of the race, in order. A boxed exacta costs twice the price but you win if your top two picks finish first and second, in any order.
F – Furlong
Measure of distance equal to 1/8th of a mile. The Kentucky Derby is 10 furlongs.
G – Gate
The starting gate consists of 14 stalls except in the Kentucky Derby where an auxiliary gate adds 6 spots for a total of 20 starters. Want to know how horses learn to load into the gate? Check out this blog.
H – Handle
Total money wagered on a race. Record handle for the Derby was in 2015 at $137.9 million!
I – Inquiry
When the stewards review the race on tape to make sure it was run fairly. Any horse or rider who broke the rules can be demoted to a lower finishing position.
J – Jockeys Room
The locker room for jockeys where they change colors between races.
K – Key Horse
In a series of exotic wagers, the key horse is repeated in multiple combinations because the bettor believes it cannot lose.
L – Length
The length of a horse from nose to tail is approximately 9 ft and is how distances between horses in a race are measured. Below: Rachel Alexandra won the Oaks by 20 lengths.
M – Morning Line
The track handicapper’s prediction of what the final odds will be at post time. Actual odds are determined by the wagering public.
N – Nod
To win by a nod is to cross the finish line with a lowered head while your competitor has his head in the air.
O – Off the Board
The first three finishers in a race are described as having hit the board; the remainder of the field is therefore ‘off the board’. The tote board is the large screen at racetracks which displays results and odds.
P – Past Performances
Data compiled on each entrant, including past race performance and pedigree.
Q – Quarter Pole
The Quarter Pole is one-quarter of the mile from the finish line.
R – Racing Secretary
The racetrack official who writes the condition book for each race meet.
S – Scratch
If a horse is withdrawn from a race, he is described as having been scratched.
T – Triple Crown
Winning the Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont. After a 37 year drought, American Pharoah did it in 2015 – will we see another one this year?
U – Undercard
The other races run at a racetrack on a day with Graded Stakes. This Saturday, the other 13 races run before and after the Kentucky Derby are the undercard.
V – Valet
A jockey’s valet organizes the colors and equipment he will need for each mount throughout the race day.
W – Wire
The finish line.
X – X-Ray
X-rays are used to diagnose lameness as well as potential sources of future lameness. Check out this blog on radiographing yearlings.
Y – Yielding
Describes a turf course after a good amount of rain. The level of moisture in a turf track, from driest to wettest, is described as Firm, Good, Yielding and Soft. Dirt tracks are Fast, Good, Muddy, Sloppy or Sealed.