Horse Racing Terms

You need a program to know the players and you have to know the terms of this game to get into the mind set of jockeys, their agents, trainers and even gamblers.

Face it; horse racing can be intimidating to the novice. If you head to the local betting parlor, whether it be the greasy OTB in New York, or the hometown pub in Montana, the voices of the other bettors alone can unwind even the most confident handicapper

So, let’s go over a few terms that can be misunderstood in this sport.

A jockey agent is a good place to start.

Casual fans may think he is a talent scout looking for good singers, but this is the guy who is employed by the jockey to book his mounts. The agent is part baby sitter, part teacher, part salesman, and 100% motivated because if he doesn’t put his rider on live stock, and if his rider doesn’t win races, the agent doesn’t eat. He will earn usually about 25% of the rider’s earnings. And if the rider’s mounts earn say $10 million for the year, this would be the cream of the crop, the rider would make a million and his agent would get around $250,000.

Not bad for changing diapers, making phone calls and getting his rider the right accommodations on any flight.

His typical day would start on the backstretch visiting trainers and positioning his rider to accept mounts in the afternoon. The agent has to be one step ahead, or in reality, weeks ahead since he is working off a condition book that is looking 2 or 3 weeks into the future.

When reading the past performances some fans may not be quite sure of the terminology involved. If a horse is said to ‘bolt’ it means a sudden veering in or out and this will usually take a horse completely out of the race.

If during the running of a race the comment on a horse is ‘checked’ it can mean a very serious traffic problem. It usually happens when a horse is pulled up by his jockey because he is cut off or in very tight quarters.

A more serious version of being ‘checked’ is to be ‘taken up’, which means a horse would be pulled up sharply by his rider and a maneuver like this often eliminates a runner from winning that particular race.

Occasionally in the notes of the races in the chart a horse will be said to be climbing. This is a term that refers to a fault in a runner’s stride in that instead of reaching out and moving naturally forward, his action would be in a high motion, sort of similar to what a merry-go-round horse would look like.

This often suggests that the runner is in distress and that there is something seriously bothering him and it would be wise not to bet on a ‘climber’ until he breaks the habit.

A common term that is sometimes tricky is lugging. This is the action of a horse that because he is tired, or because he has a problem with one leg or another, starts to veer either left or right. This is a subtle tell tale sign that the runner is being asked to perform to his utmost ability and he is at the breaking point of exceeding. It can also sometimes indicate a deeper, more serious problem that will just not allow the athlete to run to his full potential.

When handicapping and researching, handicappers that cannot see the replay must be able to understand and read into what really happened during the running of the race.

Hope this helps some and more explanations will be forthcoming.

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NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll

No. Horse Points
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9 Nest 87
10 Hot Rod Charlie 48
As of August 1, 2022

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