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The Horse Racing Game Has a Language of Its Own

August 13, 1992|BRIAN ALEXANDER

The track has a vocabulary all its own and understanding the vocabulary is key to understanding horse racing. Here are a few common words used around the track.

Claiming Race: A race in which any horse entered can be "claimed" or purchased by registered owners who make a claim before the race begins. These races are designed to discourage owners from entering a horse in a field it is sure to easily defeat, since such a horse is likely to be claimed at a price less than it is worth.

Daily Double: Seeking to pick the winning horses in two consecutive designated races. Del Mar has two daily doubles, one early and one late.

Daily Triple: Seeking to picking the three winning horses in three consecutive races.

Exacta: Seeking to pick the winning horse and the second-place horse in their order of finish in the same race.

Exacta Box: Betting on two horses to finish either first or second, essentially two bets. A two horse box costs $4, a three horse box (two of three horses will finish first or second) costs $12.

Handicap: A race in which the horses are assigned weights in a theoretical attempt to make sure every horse crosses the finish line at the same time.

Maiden: A horse "breaks his maiden" the first time he wins a race.

Mutuel Handle: The amount of money shoved through the betting windows. The word mutuel is used because the money is actually a pool of bets and the amount of money bet on any particular horse is the final determiner of that horse's odds of winning. Out of this pool, about 20% is designated as the "take out," money not paid to gamblers. From the takeout, about a third is paid to the state, a third to the track and a third to horsemen.

Raise: A horse moving from a lower-priced claiming race to a higher-priced claiming race. Usually an indication the trainer and owner do not want to risk losing the horse at a price that is less than it may be worth.

Win, place, and show: First, second and third.

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