Thoroughbred racing and punting has its own vocabulary, filled with colourful terminology, jargon and a verbal form of shorthand that permits punters and the people involved in the racing industry to communicate efficiently.
Some of the words used in racing are words encountered by almost everyone in the course of daily lives that have nothing to do with racing. Those words take on a different meaning when they are applied to racing.
Everyone knows that a “birdcage” is where domestic birds are kept, but not everyone knows that when racing people refer to a “birdcage,” they are speaking of the area where the horses are paraded prior to the jump, where punters can evaluate each horse in the minutes leading up to the start.
Here is a sentence you might hear when you visit the track.
“Yeah, when I saw he had Blown (no bets, so odds increased), I read the Late Mail (last-minute tips) from the Mug (poor punter) on the Rails (prime position in the on-course bookies’ ring) and backed him for a Monkey ($500 bet) On The Nod (bet made with credit), only to have the bloody Moral (absolute certainty to win) Pig-Root (try to throw the jockey) in the barrier, scrape the hoop (slang for jockey) and get scratched ( taken out of the race).”
The following glossary will explain many of the words and terms associated with racing, which might help you to find a Roughie (horse with long odds and little chance of winning, hopefully a Roughie that is not a Ring-In (illegally substituted horse), or at least sound as though you know what you are doing.
Australian glossary of used horse racing terms.
Acceptor: A horse whose connections have paid the acceptance fee for a race
Added Weight: A horse carrying more weight than is required, eg, jockey exceeds the weight.
Age Of Horse: Birthday of horse always on 1st August each year.
All In: A bet taken usually at fixed odds early in betting.
Also Ran: A horse who finishes out of the money.
Apprentice Claim: Weight concession to an apprentice rider.
Apprentice Rider: Normally under contract to a stable, learning to ride.
Backed Off The Map: A runner heavily backed in betting.
Bagman: Bookmakers personel responsible for settling up on bets at racecourses.
Bailed Up: A runner racing inside other runners and unable to get clear running.
Bandage: Strips of cloth wound around the lower part of a horse's legs for support or protection against injury.
Barriers: The starting gates.
Barrier Blanket: Assists horses who protest being loaded in the barrier starting gates.
Birdcage: A portion of the racecourse where the runners are paraded before the start of a race.
Bleeder: When a horse bleeds from the lungs during or after running.
Blinkers: Hood that fits over the bridle with cups placed around the horse's eyes to restrict vision of other horses to the side and rear.
Bleeder: Horse who bleeds during or after a workout or race due to ruptured blood vessel.
Blinkers: Device to limit a horse's vision to prevent him from swerving from objects or other horses on either side of him.
Blows: When a previously favoured horse is unwanted in betting before the race and the bookmakers increase the odds.
Bolted: During the race the horse has ran many lengths in front of the field or has won the race by many lengths. "He has bolted in."
Bookmakers: A person licensed to conduct betting on or off course.
Box/Boxed: Two or more runners to finish in any order in a multiple bet such as Quinella, Exacta, Trifecta.
Box Trifecta: Usually four or five horses are "boxed" in a trifecta. If three of the horses selected all finish in the first three placings, the punter collects for a winning trifecta.
Broken Down: When a horse suffered an injury; lameness.
Checked: A horse which receives some type of interference.
Claim: A reduction in the amount of weight carried by a horse being ridden by an apprentice.
Class: The grade of the race.
Coat-Tugger: Someone who offers a punter a tip then demands a percentage of their winnings.
Colt: A male horse 3 years and under and has not been gelded.
Connections: A horse's owners and their representatives or anyone personally connected to the horse such as the jockey and training staff.
Correct Weight: Placings in a race are official.
Daily Double: Select the winner in two races.
Dam: Female parent of a foal.
Dead Heat: Two or more horses finishing in an exact tie at the finish line.
Dead Track: Racing surface lacking resiliency, just on the softer side of Good.
Derby: A stakes race for 3YO's.
Distanced: Well beaten, finishing a great distance behind the winner.
Dividend: Places are paid for First (Win & Place), Second & Third (Place only). A fourth place getter is included for betting on the First Four only, no place dividend is paid on the fourth place getter.
Dwelt: Tardy in breaking from the gate.
Each way: Have equal amount of money on the horse for a win and for a place.
Each Way Odds: usually is four to one, you receive all your money back if it comes second or third as long as eight or more runners in race.
Eased: The horse is backed off usually to find position in the race.
Eligible: Qualified to start in a race, according to conditions.
Emergency: Additional nominated runners are accepted but will only gain a run if others in the field are scratched. Entire: An ungelded horse.
Exacta: Select the first two horses in a race in the finishing order.
Exotics: A multiple bet such as Quinella, Exacta, Trifecta, First Four & Quaddie.
Extended: Running at top speed.
False Favourite: A horse that is favourite for the race but you consider another selection should be favourite
Farrier: A specialist in equine hoof care (a blacksmith).
Fast: The firmest track rating.
Favourite: The most popular horse in betting and therefore the one who starts at the shortest odds.
Feature Race: The highest rated race on the card, determined by the category of the race and the prize money.
Field: The horses in the race.
Filly: In most cases a filly is a female horse 3 YO's or under.
First Four: Select first four horses in the correct order in a pre selected race.
First Up: A runner resuming from a spell, being a break from racing for 3 months or more.
Flat Race: Contested on level ground, not a hurdle race or steeplechase.
Flexi-Betting: To invest a smaller amount than the full dollar value of the wager and receive a reduced percentage of the final dividend.
Fluctuation: The movements of the odds of a runner moving up or down in the betting ring.
Front Runner: A horse who usually leads the field for as far as he can.
Furlong: Approx 200 metres.
Gallop: A fast canter. Gelding: Castrated male horse of any age.
Good Track: Condition between fast and slow.
Grew Another Leg: The runner suddenly improved during the race.
Group Races: The best horse races in the country which are decided by the Australian Racing Board. There are four types of Black Type races: Group 1 (the highest), Group 2, Group 3 and Listed (Group 4)
Handicap Race: for which a handicapper assigns weights to be carried.
Hands & Heels: Riding the horse without using the whip. Hang: The horse holds its head to one side during a race.
Head: Margin between runners.
Heavy Track: Next level up from slow. A rain affected track.
Hoop: Another name for a Jockey.
Hurdle Race: Contested over obstacles. A jumping race over lower fences than steeplechase races.
Impost: The weight to be carried by the horse for a race.
In Foal: Pregnant mare.
In The Money - The horse finished a race winning some prize money.
In The Red: Odds in the bookmakers ring are very short, less than evens.
Knocked Up: The runner stops racing in the straight usually due to a hard run in racing.
Knuckled: The horse almost fell on its knees or stumbled.
Lame: Pain in limbs causing deviation in normal running.
Late Mail: Last minute tips that take jockeys, scratchings and track conditions/bias into account.
Late Scratching: A runner that is withdrawn from the race after 8am on race day.
Lay: When a bookmaker offers better odds because they believe the horse cannot win.
Length: A horses length from nose to tail.
Long Shot: A runner being at long odds and is unlikely to win.
Maiden: A horse who has not won a race.
Maiden Race: A race for non winners.
Mare: Adult female horse 4YO's or older.
Middle Distance: Approx 1600 metre races.
Monkey: Five Hundred Dollars. Usually a casino chip.
Moral: An absolute certainty to win the race.
Mounting Yard: The area where the horses are paraded before a race and jockeys take their mounts.
Mudlark: A horse that excels on wet tracks.
Mug Punter: A person who is poor at punting/betting.
Near side: Left side of a horse.
Neck: Margin between horses, about the length of a horses neck.
Nose: The smallest measuring margin between runners.
Nose-roll: A sheepskin roll attached to the bridle on the horses nose to keep the head in line with the body.
Odds-Against: The prices in the betting ring are longer than even money (e.g. $4.00 for $1.00 invested.)
Odds On: Odds of less than even money.
Off Side: Right side of horse.
On The Nod: A person betting with a bookmaker on credit.
On The Nose: To back a horse for the win only.
Pacifiers: Hood with gauze eye covers to restrict the vision of an excitable horse.
Paddock: Before the race the clerk of the course leads the horses from the saddling paddock to the mounting yard.
Photo Finish: A result so close it is necessary to use a finish-line camera to determine the winner.
Pig-Root: The horse bucks and tries to throw the jockey.
Place: This is when a horse runs either 1st, 2nd or 3rd and you receive a dividend. There must be eight runners or more.
Plunge: In the bookmakers ring, a sudden rush of money for a particular horse.
Protest: An objection lodged by the jockey, connections or the stewards regarding the outcome of a race.
Pulled Up: To stop or slow a horse during the race.
Punter: Person placing a wager.
Quadrella: Select the winner of 4 pre nominated races on the card.
Quarantine: A process used to isolate foreign horses for a short period of time to ensure they are not carrying any diseases.
Quinella: Select the first two horses in a race in any order.
Rails: The prime position in the bookmakers ring.
Ridden Out: A runner that finishes the race under average urging by the rider.
Ridden Upside Down: A horse did not race in the way that suits it best, e.g. a front-runner that was ridden at the back.
Ring-In: A horse that has been illegally substituted for another acceptor in a race. Eg. Fine Cotton Ring-In.
Roughie: A horse at a long price in the ring with little chance of winning.
Running Double: Select the winner in two consecutive races.
Saddle Cloth: Cloth under the saddle displaying the horses number.
Scratched: To be taken out of the race.
Second Up: Next run after a first up run, following spell of 90 days or more.
Silks: Jacket and Cap worn by jockeys to identify themselves.
Sire: The male parent. Slow: Rain affected track. Better than heavy.
SP Bookmaker: An illegal bookie, a person that takes bets without a licence.
Spell: A horse that has had a break from racing for 90 days or more
Stallion: A male horse for breeding.
Stayer: A horse that races in long distance races, eg. 2000 metres and more.
Stewards: Racing officials responsible for enforcing the rules of racing.
Straight Six: Select the winner of six consecutive pre nominated races.
Strapper: The Groom, a person employed by the trainer to attend to a horse. Duties may include feeding, grooming, riding at training and leading in the mounting yard.
Stone Motherless: The horse was last in the race.
Suspension: The period of time a jockey or trainer is suspended due to an infraction of the rules of racing.
Swooper: A horse that likes to finish on from the tail of the field at the end of the race.
Top Fluc: A bet accepting the odds which are the highest fluctuation in the betting ring.
Track Conditions: The rating given to a racetrack on race day.
Treble: A bet involving three consecutive races nominated by the TAB.
Trifecta: A wager selecting the first 3 runners of a race.
Under Double Wraps: The horse won easily without extending to its full ability.
Unders: A runner whose odds are too short in relation to its chances of winning.
Untried: Not raced or not raced at a certain distance.
Wager: A bet.
Warned Off: A licensed person is forbidden from entering a racecourse or associating with other licensed people.
Weight For Age: Fixed scale of weights to be carried by horses.
Well-Held: The horse won easily without being fully extended. Win: Your selection crosses the line first and correct weight it given.
Winkers: Sheepskin which attaches to the cheek straps of the bridle to keep the horses attention forward.
Write Your Own Ticket: The horse is so unlikely to win a bookie would give you any odds you asked for.
Yearling: A young horse, a 2Y0.
These are only some of the words, terms and phrases you will hear in connection with Thoroughbred racing.
The jargon is evolving all the time.
There is an entire, second glossary with words we frequently use to describe almost every horse on which we Mugs have lost a Monkey betting on a horse that was Stone Motherless (horse than finished last), but that second glossary is not fit for publication and might result in the Stewards (racing officials) handing us a Suspension (ban).