Racing Terms

  • Saddle


    A Thoroughbred racing saddle is the lightest saddle used, weighing less than two pounds.

  • Saddle Cloth

    Saddle Cloth

    A cotton cloth which goes under the saddle to absorb sweat. It usually has the horse's program number and sometimes, in major races, its name.

  • Saddle Pad

    Saddle Pad

    A piece of felt, sheepskin, or more usually, foam rubber, used as a base for the saddle.

  • Scratch


    To be taken out of a race before it starts. Trainers usually request to scratch horses due to adverse track conditions or a horse's adverse health. A veterinarian can request to scratch a horse at any time. Final approval for the scratch comes from the stewards.

  • Sealed Track

    Sealed Track

    A sealed track is a dirt track that has been packed down. Dry tracks are sealed so that water runs off the track, reducing the amount of precipitation absorbed into the surface. Wet tracks are sealed to provide a safe and even racing surface.

  • Shank


    Rope or strap attached to a halter or bridle by which a horse is led. Also called a lead rope.

  • Silks


    Jacket and cap worn by jockeys.

  • Sire


    Father of a foal.

  • Stallion


    Uncastrated male horse.

  • Stud


    A stallion used for breeding.

  • Suckling


    A foal who is still nursing.

  • Shadow Roll

    Shadow Roll

    A piece of equipment, usually made of sheepskin or a synthetic material, that is attached to the noseband of a horse's bridle. Shadow rolls make it less likely that a horse will spook at shadows on the track or try to jump them.

  • Stripe


    A white marking running down a horse's face, starting under an imaginary line connecting the tops of the eyes.

  • Stretch


    Final straight portion of the racetrack to the finish.

  • Stretch Turn

    Stretch Turn

    Bend of track into the final straightaway.

  • Stockings


    Solid white markings extending from the top of the hoof to the knee or hock.

  • Starting Gate

    Starting Gate

    Partitioned mechanical device having stalls in which the horses are confined until the starter releases the confined front doors of each stall to begin the race.

  • Star


    1) Any of a number of white markings on the forehead. (The forehead is defined as being above an imaginary line connecting the tops of the eyes.) 2) A type of credit a horse receives from the racing secretary if it is excluded from an over-filled race, giving it priority in entering future races.

  • Standing Bandages

    Standing Bandages

    Thick cotton wraps used during shipping and while in the stall to prevent swelling and/or injury.

  • Speed Figure

    Speed Figure

    A metric that rates a horse’s performance in a race, which is determined by a combination of the horse’s performance and the level of competition he/she competed against. The higher the number for most speed figures, the better the horse’s accomplishment.

  • Sheets


    A handicapping tool assigning a numerical value to each race run by a horse to enable different horses running at different racetracks to be objectively compared.

  • Sophomores


    Three-year-old horses. Called sophomores because age three is the second year of racing eligibility.

  • Spit Box

    Spit Box

    A generic term describing a barn where horses are brought for post-race testing. Tests may include saliva, urine and/or blood.

  • Stakes


    A race for which the owner usually must pay a fee to run a horse. The fees can be for nominating, maintaining eligibility, entering and starting, to which the track adds more money to make up the total purse. Some stakes races are by invitation and require no payment or fee.

  • Stakes (STK)

    Stakes (STK)

    Races are classified as STAKES races when the meet two basic criteria, 1) They have money added to the base purse of the race in the form of nomination, entry and or starter fees paid by owners; 2) Nominations for a STAKES race must close at least 72 hours prior to its running. Stakes races can be under allowance conditions (weight off allowed based upon number of wins or money won); handicap conditions (Racing Secretary or Handicapper assigns weight based upon past performances with the goal of giving each horse an equal chance to win the race) or weight for age conditions, (each horse carries equal weights based upon their age and sex).

  • Stakes Horse

    Stakes Horse

    A horse whose level of competition includes mostly stakes races.

  • Stakes-Placed


    Finished second or third in a stakes race.

  • State-Bred


    A horse bred in a particular state and thus eligible to compete in races restricted to state-breds.

  • Starter


    1) An official responsible for ensuring a fair start to the race, the starter supervises the loading of horses into the starting gate through a gate crew. He/she also has control of the opening the gate. 2) A horse that is in the starting gate when the race begins, whether he runs or not.

  • Starter Allowance (STR)

    Starter Allowance (STR)

    Starter allowance races are identical to starter handicap races with the only difference that horses competing in this race are weighted through allowance conditions (i.e. number of races or money won).

  • Starter Handicap (SHP)

    Starter Handicap (SHP)

    This category is reserved for horses that have been running in inferior claiming company, but have improved to the point that they would not be risked being sold in a claiming race. In effect this race is an allowance race restricted to horses that have previously run in a claiming race at a specific level (e.g. starters for a claiming price of $5,000). In a starter handicap race, horses are weighted similar to a handicap race.

  • Starter Race

    Starter Race

    An allowance or handicap race restricted to horses that have started for a specific claiming price or less.

  • Stewards


    Officials of the race meeting responsible for enforcing the rules of racing.

  • Stride


    Manner of going. Also, distance covered between successive imprints of the same hoof.

  • Stud Book

    Stud Book

    Registry and genealogical record of Thoroughbreds, maintained by The Jockey Club of the country in question. Use lower case when describing a generic stud book, all words, including "The," are capitalized when describing "The American Stud Book."

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