Glossary of Racing Terms
saddle: A Thoroughbred racing saddle is the lightest saddle used, weighing less than two pounds.
saddle cloth: A cotton cloth which goes under the saddle to absorb sweat. It usually has the horse's program number and sometimes, in major races, her name.
saddle pad: A piece of felt, sheepskin, or more usually, foam rubber, used as a base for the saddle.
sand crack: See heel crack.
saucer (fracture): Stress fracture of the front of the cannon bone that can be straight or curved.
savage: Noun and Verb (to savage)When a horse bites another horse or a person.
scale of weights: Fixed weights to be carried by horses according to their age, gender, race distance and time of year.
schooling: Process of familiarizing a horse with the starting gate and teaching her/him racing practices. A horse may also be schooled in the paddock. In steeplechasing, schooling refers particularly to teaching a horse to jump.
schooling list: List of horses eligible to school at the starting gate before being permitted to race.
scintigraphy: A technique in which radio-labeled technetium is injected intravenously into a horse. A gamma camera is used to record uptake of the nucleotide in the tissues. It is particularly useful diagnostically to localize an area of inflammation in the musculoskeletal system. The most common radioisotope used to image bones is technetium-99m.
scratch: To be taken out of a race before it starts. Trainers usually scratch horses due to adverse track conditions or a horse's adverse health. A veterinarian can scratch a horse at any time.
screw fixation: A procedure in which steel-alloy screws are surgically inserted to hold together a fractured bone.
second call: A secondary mount of a jockey in a race in the event his primary mount is scratched.
second dam: Grandmother of a horse. Also known as a granddam.
selling race: See claiming race.
sensitive laminae: The area of the hoof that contains nerves and vessels.
sesamoid bones: Two small bones (medial and lateral sesamoids) located above and at the back of the fetlock joint. Four common fractures of the sesamoids are apical (along the top of the bone), abaxial (the side of the sesamoid away from the ankle joint), mid-body (sesamoid broken in half) and basilar (through the bottom) fractures.
sesamoid (fracture): Fracture of the sesamoid bone. Fractures can be small chips or involve the entire bone. Surgical repair is often done by arthroscopy.
sesamoiditis: Inflammation of the sesamoid bones.
set: A group of horses being exercised together.
set down: 1) A suspension. ("The jockey was set down five days for careless riding.) " 2) When a jockey assumes a lower crouch in the saddle while urging the horse to pick up speed. ("The horse was set down for the drive to the wire.")
sex allowance: Female horses (fillies and mares), according to their age and the time of year, are allowed to carry three to five pounds less when racing against males.
shadow roll: A (usually sheepskin) roll that is secured over the bridge of a horse's nose to keep it from seeing shadows on the track and shying away from or jumping them.
shank: Rope or strap attached to a halter or bridle by which a horse is led.
shedrow: In a stable area, a row of stalls within a barn.
sheets: A handicapping tool assigning a numerical value to each race run by a horse to enable different horses running at different racetracks to be objectively compared.
shoe boil: See capped elbow.
short: A horse in need of more work or racing to reach winning form.
shoulder: Area located at the base of the neck, formed by the scapula and the humerus. The angle of the shoulder usually is the same as that of the foreleg pastern. The more "laid back" the shoulder is, the further out the forelegs can reach, producing an even, rhythmic motion. The heavily muscled shoulder area is one of two regions on the horse's body (the other being the hindquarters) that a jockey is permitted to touch with a whip.
show: Third position at the finish.
show bet: Wager on a horse to finish in the money; third or better.
shut off: Unable to improve position due to being surrounded by other horses.
silks: Jacket and cap worn by riders to designate owner of the horse, or at some smaller tracks, to designate post positions (e.g., yellow for post position one, blue for two, etc.).
(a) Silky Sullivan: A horse who makes a big run from far back. Named for the horse, Silky Sullivan, who once made up 41 lengths to win a race.
simple (fracture): A fracture along a single line which does not penetrate the skin.
simulcast: A simultaneous live television transmission of a race to other tracks, off-track betting offices or other outlets for the purpose of wagering.
sire: 1) Noun, The male parent. 2) Verb, To beget foals.
slab (fracture): A fracture in a bone in a joint that extends from one articular surface to another. Most often seen in the third carpal bone of the knee.
slipped: A breeding term meaning spontaneous abortion.
sloppy (track): A racing strip that is saturated with water; with standing water visible.
slow (track): A racing strip that is wet on both the surface and base.
snaffle bit: See bit.
snip: Small patch of white hairs on the nose or lips of a horse.
socks: Solid white markings extending from the top of the hoof to the ankles.
soft (track): Condition of a turf course with a large amount of moisture. Horses sink very deeply into it.
solid horse A contender.
sophomores: Three-year-old horses. Called sophomores because age three is the second year of racing eligibility.
spavin: See bog and bone spavin.
speed figure: A handicapping tool used to assign a numerical value to a horse's performance. See Beyer number.
speedy cut: Injury to the inside of the knee or hock caused by a strike from another foot.
spiral (fracture): Fracture that spirals around bone.
spit box: A generic term describing a barn where horses are brought for post-race testing. Tests may include saliva, urine and/or blood.
spit the bit: A term referring to a tired horse who begins to run less aggressively, backing off on the pull a rider normally feels on the reins from an eager horse. Also used as a generic term for an exhausted horse.
splint: 1) Either of the two small bones that lie along the sides of the cannon bone. 2) The condition where calcification occurs on the splint bone causing a bump. This can result from response to a fracture or other irritation to the splint bone. A common injury is a popped splint, see periostitis.
sprint: A short race, less than one mile.
stakes: 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.
stakes-placed: Finished second or third in a stakes race.
stakes horse: A horse whose level of competition includes mostly stakes races.
stallion: A male horse used for breeding.
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 per season per share.
stall walker: Horse who moves about its stall constantly and frets rather than rests.
standing bandages: See bandage.
star: 1) Any of a number of white markings on the forehead. (The forehead is defined as being above an imaginary line connecting the tops of the eyes.) 2) A type of credit a horse receives from the racing secretary if s/he is excluded from an over-filled race, giving her/him priority in entering future races.
starter: 1) An official responsible for ensuring a fair start to the race, the starter supervises the loading of horses into the starting gate through a gate crew. S/he also has control of the opening the gate. 2) A horse who is in the starting gate when the race begins, whether s/he runs or not.
starter race: An allowance or handicap race restricted to horses who have started for a specific claiming price or less.
starting gate: Partitioned mechanical device having stalls in which the horses are confined until the starter releases the stalls' confined front doors to begin the race.
state-bred: A horse bred in a particular state and thus eligible to compete in races restricted to state-breds.
stayer: A horse who can race long distances.
steadied: A horse being taken in hand by her/his rider, usually because of being in close quarters.
steeplechase: A race in which horses are required to jump over a series of obstacles on the course. Also known as a chase.
step up: A horse moving up in class to meet better competition.
stewards: Officials of the race meeting responsible for enforcing the rules of racing.
stick: A jockey's whip.
sticker: See calk.
stifle: The large joint above the hock which is made up by the femur, the patella and the tibia.
stirrups: Metal "D"-shaped rings into which a jockey places her/his feet. They can be raised or lowered depending on the jockey's preference. Also known as irons.
stockings: Solid white markings extending from the top of the hoof to the knee or hock.
stress (fracture): A fracture produced by the stress created by a repetitive loading cycle on the bone, commonly found in athletic training. Usually seen in the front of the cannon bone as a severe form of bucked shins. Also seen in the tibia and causes a hard-to-diagnose hind limb lameness.
(home) stretch: Final straight portion of the racetrack to the finish.
stretch call: Position of horses at the eighth pole.
stretch runner: Horse who runs her/his fastest nearing the finish of a race.
stretch turn: Bend of track into the final straightaway.
stride: Manner of going. Also, distance covered between successive imprints of the same hoof.
stripe: A white marking running down a horse's face, starting under an imaginary line connecting the tops of the eyes.
stud: 1) Male horse used for breeding. 2) A breeding farm.
stud book: Registry and genealogical record of Thoroughbreds, maintained by the Jockey Club of the country in question. Use lower case when describing a generic stud book, all words, including "The," are capitalized when describing "The American Stud Book."
subscription: Fee paid by owner to nominate a horse for a stakes race or to maintain eligibility for a stakes race.
substitute race: Alternate race used to replace a regularly scheduled race that does not fill or is canceled.
suckling: A foal in its first year of life, while it is still nursing.
sulk: When a horse refuses to extend itself.
superficial flexor tendon: Present in all four legs, but injuries most commonly affect the front legs. Located on the back (posterior) of the front leg between the knee and the foot and between the hock and the foot on the rear leg. The function is to flex the digit (pastern) and knee (carpus) and to extend the elbow on the front leg and extend the hock on the rear leg. Functions in tandem with the deep flexor tendon.
superior check ligament: Fibrous band of tissue that originates above the knee and attaches to the superficial flexor tendon. Primary function is support of this tendon. Accessory ligament of the superficial flexor tendon.
suspensory ligament: Originates at the back of the knee (front leg) and the back of the top part of the cannon bone (hind leg), attaching to the sesamoid bones. The lower portion of the ligament attaches the lower part of the sesamoid bones to the pastern bones. Its function is to support the fetlock. The lower ligaments that attaches the sesamoid bone to the pastern bones are the distal sesamoidean ligaments.
swayback: Horse with a prominent concave shape of the backbone, usually just behind the withers (saddle area). Scoliosis.
swipe: A groom.
synchronous diaphragmatic flutter: A contraction of the diaphragm in synchrony with the heart beat after strenuous exercise. Affected horses have a noticeable twitch or spasm in the flank area which may cause an audible sound, hence the term thumps. Â Most commonly seen in electrolyte-depleted/exhausted horses. The condition resolves spontaneously with rest.
synovial fluid: Lubricating fluid contained within a joint, tendon sheath or bursa.
synovial joint: A movable joint that consists of articulating bone ends covered by articular cartilage held together with a joint capsule and ligaments and containing synovial fluid in the joint cavity.
synovial sheath: The inner lining of a tendon sheath that produces synovial fluid. Allows ease of motion for the tendons as they cross joints.
synovitis: Inflammation of a synovial structure, typically a synovial sheath.