A horse race is a competition in which horses run over an oval track. They are ridden by jockeys who attempt to get the best possible position in the race. The race often involves organized betting on the outcome.
The horse’s win odds (Odds to Win) are listed at the start of each race and are displayed on a chalkboard behind the start gate. These odds are then used to calculate the payout on the winning bets.
If the horse wins, the bettor collects three ways; if second, two ways; and if third, one way. These bets are collected by the racing association in a mutuel pool.
Horses are typically grouped together by age and gender, with some races limited to certain groups for competitive balance. Some races are restricted to horses that are 2 years old or younger.
Juvenile: A young horse, usually 2 years or younger, often grouped together in similar races for competitive balance. These races are categorized into maiden special weight (horses entered cannot be purchased by other owners) and maiden claiming (horses entered can be purchased by other owners).
Mare: Female horse 5 years or older, often grouped together in similar races for competition balance. These races are categorized into maiden claiming (horses entered cannot be purchased by another owner) and maiden special weight (horses entered can be purchased by another owner).
Minus pool: A pool of money that is deducted from each winning wager to pay the legal minimum. The racing association will make up the difference, if any.
Overlay: A horse whose odds are higher than its actual chance of winning, as determined by the player. These bets are usually accompanied by the “overlay” symbol.
A horse that is favored to win but falls short of the winner’s goal, usually due to traffic problems or a lack of ability. It may also have been due to bad racing luck.
Balk: A horse that frightens or upsets the crowd. This can be a sign of a lack of confidence in the horse or a jockey’s tactics.
This is especially true of a young horse that has not had much experience and is unfamiliar with the track. This can cause the horse to panic and balk.
He will often retaliate by bucking or chasing down other horses, which is an illegal act under racing rules. This can be a major problem for the racer and could result in penalties or suspensions from future races.
The term has also come to mean a horse that has been duped into running too far ahead of his pace. This is especially common in the early stages of a race and can lead to costly mistakes by the horse or its owner.
Frequently shortened to “Hung.” This is an expression used when a horse has gained the lead, then lost it to a rival or has been unable to maintain that advantage. It may be a reflection of a change in tactics by the rider or the horse’s desire to gain ground on the leader.