Skip to main content

Glossary of Racing Terms

A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z


calk: A projection on the heels of a horseshoe, similar to a cleat, on the rear shoes of a horse to prevent slipping, especially on a wet track. Also known as a sticker. Often incorrectly spelled caulk.

call: Running position of horses in a race at various points.

cannon bone: The third metacarpal (front leg) or metatarsal (rear leg), also referred to as the shin bone. The cannon bone is the largest bone between the knee and ankle joints.

capillary refill time: The amount of time it takes for blood to return to capillaries after it has been forced out. In horses, the c.r.t. is two seconds, normally. This is assessed by pressing the thumb against the horse's gums. When pressure is removed, the gum looks white: the normal pink color returns as blood flows into the capillaries.

capped elbow: Inflammation of the bursa over the point of the elbow. Known as a shoe boil. (See bursitis.)

capped hock: Inflammation of the bursa over the point of the hock. (See bursitis.)

carpus: A joint in the horse's front leg, more commonly referred to as the knee.

cast: A horse, positioned on its side or back, and wedged against a wall, such that it cannot get up.

caudal: Toward the tail.

Center of Distribution: A formula derived from the Dosage profile and a similar attempt to quantify speed and stamina.

chalk: Wagering favorite in a race. This saying is from the days when on-track bookies (bookmakers) wrote current odds on a chalkboard.

chalk player: Bettor who wagers on favorites.

Champion: See Eclipse Award.

chart: A statistical "picture" of a race (from which past performances are compiled). The chart shows the position and margin of each horse at designated points of call, depending on the distance of the race. The chart also shows the horses' ages, weight carried, owners, trainers, jockeys, and the race's purse, conditions, payoff prices, odds, time and other information necessary to handicap.

check(ed): When a jockey slows a horse due to other horses impeding its progress.

chef-de-race (chef de RAH) The list of superior sires used in the Dosage formula.

chestnut: 1) A horse color which may vary from redhead-red, to red-yellow to golden-yellow. The mane, tail and legs are usually variations of coat color, with markings exceptions. 2) Horny, irregular growths found on the inside of a horse's legs. On the forelegs, they are just above the knees. On the hind legs, they are just below the hocks. No two horses have been found to have the same chestnuts and so they may be used for identification. Also called night eyes.

chiropractic: The use of bone alignment to treat specific or general health problems.

choking down See dorsal displacement of the soft palate.

chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): A hyperallergenic response of the respiratory system that involves damage to the lung tissue, similar in many ways to human asthma. Affected horses may cough, present with nasal discharge or have a reduced tolerance for exercise.. COPD increases respiratory rate, and diminishes lung elasticity.

chronic osselet: Permanent build-up of synovial fluid in a joint. CO is characterized by inflammation and thickening of the joint capsule over the damaged area. CO is usually accompanied by changes in the bone and cartilage. See arthritis.

chute Extension of the backstretch or homestretch of a track. Chutes are used to permit a straight running start in a race, as opposed to starting on or near a turn. (Example: a seven furlong race at Saratoga begins at the end of the chute.)

claiming: Process by which a licensed person may purchase a horse entered in a designated race for a predetermined price. When a horse has been claimed, her new owner assumes title after the starting gate opens, although the former owner is entitled to all purse money earned in that race.

claiming box: The box in which claims are deposited before the race.

claiming race A race in which each horse entered is eligible to be purchased at a set price. Claims must be made before the race and only by licensed owners or their agents who have a horse registered to race at that meeting or who have received a claim certificate from the stewards.

classic 1) A race of traditional importance. 2) Used to describe a distance A race at the American classic distance, which is currently 1 1/4 miles. (The European classic distance is 1 1/2 miles.)

clerk of scales: An official whose chief duty is to weigh the riders before and after a race to ensure proper weight is/was carried.

climbing When a horse lifts its front legs abnormally high as it gallops, causing it to run inefficiently.

clocker: One who times workouts and races.

closed knees: A condition in which the cartilaginous growth plate above the knee (distal radial physis) has turned to bone. Closed knees indicate the completion of long bone growth and is one sign of maturity.

closer: A horse who runs best in the latter part of the race, coming from off the pace.

clubhouse turn: Generally, the turn on a racing oval that is closest to the clubhouse facility; usually the first turn after the finish line.

coffin bone: The third phalanx (P3). The major bone that is within the confines of the hoof. Also called the pedal [PEE-dal] bone.

colic: Refers to abdominal pain.

colors: See silks.

colors (horse) : Colors of a horse that are accepted by The Jockey Club are bay, black, chestnut, dark bay/brown, gray, roan and white. See each color for full descriptions.

colt : An ungelded (entire) male horse, four-years-old or younger.

commingle: Combining mutuel pools from off-track sites with the host track.

comminuted (fracture): A fracture with more than two fragments.

company: Class of horses in a race she last ran in stakes company.

Comparable Index (CI): Indicates the average earnings of progeny produced from mares bred to one sire when these same mares are bred to other sires. A CI of 1.00 is considered average, 2.00 is twice the average, 0.50 half the average, etc.

compound (fracture): A fracture where the damaged bone breaks through the skin. Also known as an open fracture.

condition book(s): A series of booklets issued by a racing secretary which set forth conditions of races to be run at a particular racetrack.

conditioner: 1) A trainer. 2) A workout or race to enable a horse to attain fitness.

conditions: The requirements of a particular race. The conditions for a race may include age, sex, money or races won, weight carried and the distance of the race.

condylar (fracture): A fracture in the lower knobby end (condyle) of the lower (distal) end of a long bone such as the cannon bone or humerus (upper front limb).

conformation: The physical makeup of and bodily proportions (musculature, skeleton, etc.) of a horse, and how it comes together as a whole unit.

congenital: Present at birth.

connections: People connected to a horse: owner, trainer, rider and stable employees, etc.

consolation double: A payoff to holders of daily double tickets, combining the winning horse in the first race of the double with a scratched horse in the second.

cooling out: Bringing a horse to normal body temperature, usually by walking, after it has become overheated during exercise or racing. All horses who are exercised or raced are cooled out.

corn: An irritation on the sole of the foot, toward the heel. Just as in a human, a corn is the result of pressure from the shoe.

coronary band : Where the hair meets the hoof. Usually called the coronet.

coronet: See coronary band.

corticosteroids: Hormones that are either naturally produced by the adrenal gland, or artificial. (They function as anti-inflammatory hormones, or hormones that regulate the chemical stability [homeostasis] of the body.) A common misconception is that a horse who has received corticosteroids experiences an increase in its natural abilities, and therefore has an unfair advantage. At the present time, there is no scientific evidence to support such a perception.

cough: To expel air from the lungs in a spasmodic manner.

coupled (entry): Two or more horses running as an entry in a single betting unit.

cover: A single breeding of a stallion to a mare. e.g., "He covered 70 mares."

cow hocks: Abnormal conformation in which the points of the hocks turn in.

cracked hoof: A vertical split of the hoof wall.

cranial: Toward the head.

creep feeder: A feed device designed to allow a foal to eat, but keep its dam (mother) out. (Otherwise the mare will eat the foal's food.)

cribber: A horse who clings to objects with her teeth, and sucks air into its stomach. Also called a wind sucker.

crop: 1) The number of foals by a sire in a given year. 2) A group of horses born in the same year. e.g., "An excellent crop of three-year-olds." 3) A jockey's whip.

croup: Along the horse's topline, the area between the back and the tail. A straight, level croup provides maximum outreach of the Thoroughbred's hindquarters as it gallops, thus producing a longer stride.

cryptorchid: A unilateral cryptorchid is a male horse of any age who has one undescended testicle. A bilateral cryptorchid is a male horse of any age for whom both testicles are undescended. The Jockey Club defines cryptorchid as a male horse of any age for whom both testicles are undescended.

cup: 1) Refers to the irregular occlusal surface of the tooth (the surfaces that meet when a horse closes its mouth). Used as a visual method of determining age in a horse. 2) Trophy awarded to winning horse owners, usually in a stakes race.

cuppy (track): A dry and loose racing surface that breaks away under a horse's hooves.

curb: A thickening of the plantar ligament of the hock.

cushion: Top portion of a racetrack.

cut down: A horse who suffers from injuries, after being struck by the shoes of another horse. Or, due to a faulty stride, a horse may cut herself down.

A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z