Standardbred & Harness Racing Glossary
Also Eligible: Horse officially entered in a race, but not permitted to start unless field is reduced by scratch(es).
Backstretch: The straightaway on the far side of the racetrack. Also refers to the stable area.
Barren: A broodmare who has been bred at least once, but is not pregnant.
Blanket Finish: One which finds several horses finishing very close together at the wire.
Boxed In: When a horse is racing along the pylons and cannot improve his position in a race because of the presence of other horses in front, behind and beside him. Also called Locked In.
Break: When a horse breaks from its gait into a run or gallop. Denoted on the program with an X.
Breeding Season: The usual breeding season runs from February 15th to July 15th.
Broodmare: A mare who has had been bred at least once.
Card: Another term for a program of racing. For example, someone might say there are ten races on tonight's 'card', meaning there will be ten races contested that night.
Catch Driver: A driver who doesn't train his/her horses and is hired by other trainers and owners to drive their horses.
Chart: A comprehensive account of a race showing the positions of all horses at various stages of the race.
Colours: The special colourful jacket worn by drivers in a race. Unlike Thoroughbred jockeys, drivers register their own colours and wear them every time they race.
Colt: A male horse three years of age or younger.
Conditioned Race: A race where eligibility is based on age, sex, money won or races won. An example would be 2 Year Old Colts, Non-winners of $5,000 or 2 races life.
Conformation: The physical attributes of and bodily proportions of a horse; how it is put together.
Cover: A horse which races with another horse in front of him is said to race with cover, as the leading horse cuts the wind resistance.
Cross Fire: When a horse's hind foot strikes the opposite front foot or leg.
Dam: The mother of a horse.
Dead Heat: When the judges cannot separate two horses at the finish line even with the aid of the photo finish, it is called a dead heat.
Distanced: When a horse finishes more than 35 lengths behind the winner.
Division: A race that has too many entries and must be split into two or more divisions.
Driver: The person holding a license or permit to drive harness horses. There are different types of licenses, which correspond to differing levels of experience.
Early/Late Closer: A race requiring payments which start much closer to the actual race date than a stake 'Early' and 'Late' involve specified periods of time.
Entry: Two or more horses starting in a race owned by the same person.
Favourite: The horse considered most likely to win based on the odds and past performance.
Filly: A female horse three years of age or younger.
First Over: The first horse to make a move on the leader in a race, moving up on the outside.
Free-Legged: A pacer which races without wearing hopples.
Foal: All baby horses are called foals.
Garden Spot: The second position on the rail during most of the race.
Gelding: An altered (neutered) male of any age.
Gestation Period: The gestation period for a mare is 11 months.
Hand: A unit of measurement (four inches) by which a horse's height is measured. A horse which stands 15 hands is five feet tall at its withers.
Handicapping: The first step in successfully picking a winner (or handicapping) is becoming familiar with reading the racing program. Each program has a section explaining the information format used at that track. Probably the best place to start when handicapping Standardbreds is time. Since over 99 percent of all harness races are conducted at the one mile distance, valid comparisons can be made among the horses.
Harness: The gear which is used to attach the sulky to the horse, to carry the hopples and to enable the driver to steer the horse.
Home Stretch: The straight length of the track, nearest the spectators, where the finish line is situated. It is called this because it is the final part of the track a horse travels down during a race, on its race home (or to the finish line).
Hopples: The straps which connect the front and rear legs on the same side of a horse. Most pacers wear hopples to help balance their stride and maintain a pacing gait. The length of hopples is adjustable and a trainer registers the length that best fits his/her horse. There are also trotting hopples that work through a pulley system to help trotters maintain their gait.
Horse (Stallion): A male horse four years of age or older.
In Foal: A pregnant mare.
Inquiry: A review of the conduct of a race, called for by the judges.
Lapped On: At the finish when a horse's nose is at least alongside of the hindquarters of the horse which finishes ahead.
Lame: The term used to describe a horse which is limping or has difficulty walking properly.
Leasing: As opposed to buying a harness horse, people have the option of leasing one. Just like some people lease a car instead of paying the money up front, leasing a horse gives people use of a horse without large capital outlay. An agreement or contract must be drawn up between the two parties and the lease must be registered with the relevant controlling body.
Length: Measure of distance based on average length of horse.
Maiden: A horse who has never won a race with a purse. (Also refers to a mare who has never had a foal.)
Mare: A female horse four years of age or older.
Objection: A claim of foul lodged by a driver, upheld or dismissed by the judges.
Parked Out: When a horse cannot find a position along the rail in a race and is forced to race outside those on the inside. Is also called taking the overland route.
Photo Finish: When two horses cross the finish too closely to identify a winner, officials call for a photograph of the race, taken exactly at the finish line, to help them determine the winner.
Pedigree: Refers to a horse's family tree, paternal and maternal ancestors. A horse's pedigree provides insight into its potential ability and value.
Post Position: Generally, the closer a horse starts to the inside rail, or barrier of the track, especially on smaller tracks, the better its chance of winning. At the start, horses must either "leave" (start quickly) to get a good position or else find a place on the rail to avoid racing on the outside of other horses. When racing on the outside the horse is said to be parked out and loses ground on every turn. A horse on the inside has a better chance to get to the rail or quickly get a good position.
Post Time: The starting time of a race.
Qualifier: A race in which a horse must go a mile below an established time standard to prove itself capable of competing in pari-mutuel races.
Ridgling: A male horse with one or both testicles not descended into the scrotal sac.
Scratch: The removal of a horse from a race after its entry has been accepted.
Sire: The father of a horse.
Sires Stakes: Stake races designed to promote Standardbred breeding and racing within a jurisdiction. Eligibility to compete in the Sires Stakes events depends upon the rules of the jurisdiction.
Stakes Race: A race where owners make a series of payments, starting well in advance, to keep a horse eligible. If an owner misses a payment, the horse is ineligible.
Spayed Mare: A neutered female horse of any age.
Starter: The person responsible for starting a harness race. The starter controls the start of the race from the back of the mobile starting gate.
Sulky: Also known as the cart or racebike, the sulky is attached to the harness and carries the driver which the horse pulls.
Time Trial: An attempt to have a horse beat its own best time in a non-competitive event. A time trial is not a race. Galloping horses hitched to sulkies, called prompters, are used to push a horse to its best effort.
Tote Board: An electronic board, usually in the infield of a racetrack, which posts the odds, amount of money bet, results of a race and the wagering pay offs.
Weanling: Foals weaned from their mother until they reach their first birthday.
Yearling: Any horse between its first and second birthday.
PACER: Pacers move the legs on one side of their body in tandem-left front and rear, right front and rear. Pacers are also referred to as sidewheelers. Pacers account for approximately 80% of all harness horses and are aided in maintaining their gait through plastic loops called hopples. Some pacers perform without the aid of hopples and are called free-legged pacers. Pacers are generally faster than trotters due to the sureness of their action.
TROTTER: Trotters move with a diagonal gait, the left front and right rear legs move in unison, as do the right front and left rear. Trotting is the more natural gait for the Standardbred, but it takes a great deal of skill to train and maintain a trotter.
Claiming Race: A race in which each horse carries a price tag (claiming price) and may be purchased. Claiming races are established according to price; ie. $25,000 claimers.
Conditioned Race: A race in which eligibility is determined based on age, sex, money or races won. Example: Four-year-olds and younger, non winners of $50,000 lifetime, or 7 races.
Early & Late Closing Events: A race requiring payments starting closer to the actual date of the race compared to stake events. Early and late refer to the time period involved.
Invitational (Open or Free For All): Usually a weekly race for the top horses at that racetrack.
Stake Race: An event or series of events in which horsemen have made payments well in advance to keep their horses eligible to compete. If a payment is missed, the horse becomes ineligible to race.
Supplemental Entry: Some stake events allow you to make a supplemental payment days prior to the running of the stake if your horse(s) is ineligible to the stake.
Win: The horse you select must finish first in the official order.
Place: The horse you select must finish first or second in the official order.
Show: The horse you select must finish first, second or third in the official order.
Daily Double: You must select the winners of two consecutive races.
Exactor or Perfecta: You must select the first two finishers in exact order.
Triactor or Trifecta: You must select the first three finishers in exact order.
Quinella: You must select the horses that will finish first and second in any order.