What Are the Different Terms Used in a Horse Race?

horse race

A horse race is a sporting event in which horses compete for prizes. In the United States, a number of prestigious races such as the Belmont and Preakness Stakes are held each year to determine which horse can be considered the best in their class.

In horse racing, a jockey rides his horse around a track and attempts to win the race by the fastest time possible. The jockey has the option of using his whip to try to make the horse speed up, or he can simply use his hand to encourage the horse to run faster.

The jockey can also take a more conservative approach to the horse, conserving his energy for later stages of the race. This is generally used when a horse has been well rated and the rider wants to slow down his pace, or conserve his energy.


A horse that runs at a fast early rate and then settles down to the speed of the race. He usually is within eight lengths of the leaders when he reaches the stretch.

Often called a sprinter or sprinter-type. It should not be confused with a pacer, which is a horse that has a slower late-running style and often runs close up through the early portions of a race.

This term is in general use to describe a horse that appears to be in a good position but has not produced the necessary winning response when called upon. It can also be used with a horse that has a strong tendency to go widest when trying to get past four or more rivals.

It is important to note that there should only be a small number of horses that break sharply in a race. These are generally those horses that are bred to be prepotent sires, called chefs-de-race, which have a high influence on speed and stamina in their pedigree.

These are also the type of sires that tend to breed a lot of high quality colts. These types of sires are often classified as brilliant, intermediate, classic, solid and professional.


This is a term that should be used when a horse drives up alongside the leaders and looks like he is going to emerge as the winner, but just does not have enough to go by and finishes evenly. It should be used in conjunction with a term such as FAILED TO GAIN.


This refers to a horse that has lost ground during some portion of a race. It is not necessarily a bad thing for a horse to lose ground; it just means that the horse may not be as dominant in that particular race as he could have been.


This term is usually used in conjunction with a term such as BRIEF SPEED. It should be used when a horse is outrun during the early phases of a race, then gets into gear too late to overtake the leaders.