Horse Racing Terms for Beginners

Brush up on your equestrian vocabulary in time for the 145th Kentucky Derby.

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Derby: A Derby is a type of horse race for three-year-old thoroughbred horses. The Kentucky Derby is a famous example of such a race. The same racetrack that hosts the Kentucky Derby also hosts the Kentucky Oaks, another three-year-old thoroughbred race. The Oaks, however, is restricted to fillies, female horses that are too young to be called mares.
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Thoroughbred: A breed of horse originally developed in 17th-18th century England, known for its speed and agility. The Preakness Stakes is a race for three-year-old Thoroughbreds.
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Triple Crown: The Triple Crown is a three-race title for three-year-old Thoroughbred horses. It comprises of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. A horse that wins all three of these races is named the triple crown winner. Pictured here, Owners Frank Stronach (L) and Robert McMair (R) hold up the winning trophy after their horse,Touch Gold, beat out Silver Charm to win the 129th running of the Belmont Stakes on June 7, 1997. Silver Charm was the winner of the previous two races, and would have been a triple crown winner had he not come in second to Touch Gold in the Belmont Stakes. The last Triple Crown winner was the horse American Pharoah in 2015.
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Stewards: The Stewards in a horse race are a small panel of people who watch the race to determine whether or not any rules violations occurred.
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Stick/Bat: A jockey's whip.
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Racing Silks: The colors worn by the jockey, which differentiate the competitors. These can randomly be given to the jockeys by the racetrack or can specifically represent the owner of the horse.
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Clubhouse Turn: The turn on the race track that is closest to the clubhouse facility; usually the first turn after the finish line.
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Infield: The spectator's area enclosed by the racing oval.
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Apron: The area between the grandstand and the track.
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The Starting Gate: The partitioned mechanical device that has stalls in which the horses are placed before the start of the race. When the doors to the stalls are released, the race begins.
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Bit:The metal bar attached to the bridle and placed in the horse's mouth. It is used by the jockey to guide and control the horse.
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Action: A horse's manner of moving.
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Shadow Roll: A roll of synthetic material or sheepskin that is placed over the bridge of a horse's nose to keep it from seeing shadows on the track. This prevents the horse from getting distracted by objects on the ground or from jumping its own shadow.
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Home Stretch: The final straight portion of the racetrack before the wire (the finish line).
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Length: A measurement approximating the length of a horse, which is often used to denote the distance between horses in a race. For example, you may hear well-versed race-goers refer to a horse as finishing "several lengths" ahead of the pack, meaning that the horse won by a good distance.
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In the Money: A horse that finishes in either first, second or third place is referred to as being "in the money."
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