Horse races are an important part of our culture. They have been used for thousands of years to entertain, inform and delight us. We are all familiar with flat course racing, but there are many other types of horse races that you may not be aware of. This article will cover the four primary race types and their terminology so you can better understand the world of horse racing.
HANDICAP- The total amount of money wagered on a race. The amount can be divided into Win Pools, Daily Double Pools and Exacta Pools.
POCKET- A spot on the track where a horse is running with horses in front and alongside of him. A horse that is in a pocket may be ridden for speed and distance purposes by the jockey or to gain ground on rivals through the stretch run. A horse that is “Pocket” may come up just short of a win for any number of reasons. For example, he may have had to overcome traffic problems or dueled for command throughout the late stages and just missed.
POLE- Markers at measured distances around the track designating the distance from the finish (quarter pole is one-quarter mile from the finish).
ROOK- A position in a race where a horse is forced to take a wide route to reach contention. This can be caused by a slow start, traffic issues or interference from a rival. The jockey must use his skill and judgment to get the best out of the situation, often using the whip.
RACEDAY- A day during which horses are conditioned to prepare for a race. This is usually a day or two before the race. Exercises are designed to sharpen a horse’s speed, endurance and stamina.
STICKERS- Calks on shoes which give a horse better traction in mud or on soft tracks.
BUMPED- To make slight contact with a rival. Generally this occurs at the start or shortly thereafter. A horse who is bumped can be ridden out of the race, or can continue in the race with the help of his veterinarian to assess any injuries he may have sustained.
RACING PRINCIPLES- Rules of horse racing vary by jurisdiction, unlike most other major sports leagues in the United States. The use of whips, the types of medication horses can receive and other factors are different across dozens of states that host horse races. The punishments for trainers and owners who violate these rules can also differ.
While horse racing is a sport that has long been popular with the general public, its popularity has exploded as the economy and world have become increasingly technologically advanced. People are drawn to the excitement and history of the sport, as well as the opportunity to place a bet on their favorite horse. As such, the industry has flourished and is a huge source of economic revenue for both private investors as well as state governments. Despite its popularity, there are still some questions regarding the safety of the sport as well as the standards and rules that must be followed.