Racing Terms

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    Term Definition
    Saddle cloth

    A cloth that goes under the saddle to absorb sweat and usually has the horse's program number on it and sometimes, in major races, its name.

    Scale of weights

    An arbitrary set of weights to be carried by horses of a certain age at a certain time of year at a certain distance.


    To scratch a horse is to withdraw him from a race. There is a deadline for scratches after which permission must be obtained from the stewards.

    Set down

    A jockey who has been suspended has been "set down."

    Sex allowance

    In all races other than handicaps or where conditions state otherwise, fillies and mares are allowed to carry weight below the scale, usually 3 pounds for 2-year-old fillies and 5 pounds for fillies and mares 3-year-olds and older, prior to September 1, and 3 pounds thereafter.

    Shadow roll

    A thick noseband of sheep's wool attached to a horse's bridle and used to prevent the horse from seeing shadows directly in front of him that might cause him to jump or shy away.


    A horse that drops out of contention in the stretch or close to the finish is said to have been "short," the inference being that with more work or preparation he might have lasted to the finish and perhaps have been the winner.


    The third-place finisher in a race is said to show.

    Show bet

    A wager on a horse to finish third or better.


    See colors. The jacket and cap worn by a jockey.


    The male parent of a foal.


    A 3-year-old horse is referred to as a sophomore.

    Stakes horse

    A horse whose level of competition includes mostly stakes races.

    Stakes race

    A race for which the owner usually must pay a fee to run a horse. The fees can be for nominating, maintaining eligibility, entering and starting, to which the track adds more money to make up the total purse. Some stakes races are by invitation and require no payment or fee.


    A horse who has finished second or third in a stakes race.

    Stallion season

    The right to breed one mare to a particular stallion during one breeding season.

    Stallion share

    A lifetime breeding right to a stallion, one mare each season per share.

    Starting gate

    A partitioned mechanical device with stalls in which the horses are briefly confined until the starter releases the doors on the stalls to begin the race.


    A horse that can run well at longer distances.


    Officials at a racetrack who are responsible for enforcing the rules of racing.


    A jockey's whip.


    A stallion used for breeding. Also a breeding farm.



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