First Steps

start with a daily program

The program is packed with information you will need. It lists the horses by race, post position, pre-race odds, jockey and trainer – giving their success record at the meet. One page will show you the leading jockeys and trainers by number of wins, and another page in the program will give you an instructional guide on how to read horses’ past performances during their recent races.

You can obtain a program specific to Retama Park or a “Simulcast Program” that includes a variety of tracks we import from across the country during the afternoon or evening.

Making a bet

Whether betting with a teller or using an automated machine, you want to:

  • Identify the track
  • Declare the race number
  • Name the amount you wish to wager
  • Name the type of bet you wish to make

An example would be “Retama Park, race #1, $2 to win on the #3 horse.” Before leaving the window or machine, check your ticket. If it is not correct, we can make it right before the race is run.

The options for placing a bet on the races have evolved over the years. At the heading of each program page, you can see what bets are available for every race.

WIN: The horse you selected has to finish first, and you collect the top price at the odds established when the race began.

PLACE: Your horse only needs to “place” first or second, and you collect a price a little less than the win price in most races because you take less risk.

SHOW: If your horse finishes in the top three you collect a profit, though usually less than the win or place payoff. It is the safest way to go to cash a ticket.

DAILY DOUBLE: It was the first of what is now commonly known as “exotic bets.” Quite simply you select horses to win in two consecutive races. You may pick multiple horses in each race.

EXACTA: The name says it all. In any race, you place a wager to pick two horses to come in “exactly” in order. The payoffs are higher than a win-place-show wager.

TRIFECTA: Another hint in the name of the wager. You need your three selections to finish 1-2-3 across the finish line.

SUPERFECTA: You get a “super” payoff most of the time, but now you have to pick the top four horses.

PICK THREE: An extension of the Daily Double to the winners of three consecutive races. The profits rise, and again you can play several horses in each leg.

PICK FOUR: Same as the Pick Three, only it involves four races. The more races, the larger the payoff.

PICK SIX: Check your program to see what races start a Pick Six. If no one hits all six, the jackpot grows each day. The payoffs can be huge, and you can play several horses in different legs. As the number of horses you use goes up, so does the price of the ticket.

Allowance or Allowance Race: A non-claiming event in which the racing secretary conditions weight allowances based on previous purse earnings and/or types of victories.

Also Eligible or “AE”: Horses entered into the field that will not run unless other horses are scratched.

Apprentice Jockey: A student jockey that will receive a weight allowance of varying degrees depending on his or her experience.

Backstretch: The straight part of the track opposite the finish line or the stable area.

Baby Race: A race for two year old horses, especially early in the season.

Blinkers: Eye equipment that limits a horse’s vision; generally used to help the horse concentrate on running and to reduce distraction.

Break Maiden: When a horse or rider wins for the first time.

Breeze: A term generally used to describe a workout in which a horse is easily running under a hold without encouragement from the rider.

Bridge Jumper: A bettor that places large bets in the Place or Show pools on odd-on favorites.

Broodmare: A female thoroughbred that is used for breeding.

Broodmare Dam: A mare that produces female progeny that are used for breeding.

Broodmare sSire: A male horse that produces female progeny that are used for breeding.

Bug Boy: An apprentice jockey.

Bull Ring: A small track where the oval is generally less than one mile and, thus, has very tight turns.

Buy the Race: Using every single horse running in a specific race in an exotic wager. For example, if a player buys a Daily Double ticket for the 1st and 2nd race that is 8 with ALL, the bettor will have “bought” the second race.

Carryover: Usually refers to money in the pari-mutuel pool for a Pick Six wager that is left over after a sequence fails to have a single player select all of the winners. For example, if there are no winning tickets for a Pick Six on a Friday at a track, the money left in the pool (minus the track take) is considered a carryover and will be added to the pool for Saturday’s Pick Six. Successive carryovers can lead to very large Pick Six pools.

Claiming Race: A race where each horse in the field has a price and can be purchased by any person that makes a valid claim prior to the running of the race.

Clocker: A person that times and/or rates workouts.

Clubhouse Turn: The first turn of races that begin on the frontstretch/homestretch.

Colt: A male horse.

Condition: To train a horse.

Conditions: The circumstances under which a race will be run, such as: surface, distance, purse and eligibilities.

Consolation: A payout, typically in a Pick Six, where players without a full winning ticket still receive money. For example, a player that hits 5-of-6 races in the Pick 6 will typically collect a small consolation payout. Consolations are generally much smaller than the full payout.

Daily Double: A wager in which the player attempts to pick the winner of two sequential races with a single ticket.

Dam: The mother of a horse.

Dark: A day in which a track is not featuring live racing.

Derby: A stakes race for three year old horses.

Distance of Ground: A route race or a race run around two turns.

Dog: A cone or other obstruction place a specified distance from the rail of the turf course to keep horses from damaging that portion of the grass.

Eased: A horse that is pulled up or stopped prior to finishing the race.

Exacta: A horse that is pulled up or stopped prior to finishing the race.

Fast Track: Rating of a dirt track that is dry and hard.

Filly: A female horse.

Fire Sale: A drastic reduction in the claiming price of a horse.

Foal: A newborn horse.

Form: The current condition of a horse; may also refer to The Daily Racing Form publication.

Fractions: Clocking at quarter-mile increments in either a race or a workout.

Front Runner: A horse that wants to run on or near the lead.

Furlong: One eighth of a mile.

Gelding: A castrated male horse.

Going: The condition of the racing surface. Dirt courses are generally rated Fast, Good, Muddy or Sloppy. Turf courses are generally rated Firm, Good, Yielding, Soft or Heavy.

Graded Race: A stakes race that is assigned a grade (I, II or III) by the American Graded Stakes Committee is based on the relative strength of the race as compared to all other races. This is the highest form of racing.

Half Sister: A female horse out of the same dam as other horses but with a different sire. Horses with the same sire but different dams are not considered half sisters or brothers.

Handicap: A race in which the racing secretary assigns weights designed to equalize the winning chances of the entrants; or to study horses’ records in order to determine the chances of each to win the race.

Handily: A fairly strenuous workout where the jockey urges the horse on but does not use the whip.

Handle: Total sum be ton a race or during an entire day.

Hand Ride: A jockey that is urging a horse on by “scrubbing” his hand up and down its neck. A horse under only a hand ride was not whipped by the jockey.

Heavy Track: A grass racing surface that has received an extremely large amount of water and is almost bog-like condition.

Horse: Technically, a male horse five years old or greater is a “horse.” A male horse under five years of age is technically a “colt.”

In Hand: A horse running under restraint.

Inquiry: An official investigation by the stewards of the running of the race to determine whether a foul was committed by a horse or jockey.

In the Money: To finish in the top four; this generally entitles the owner to a share of the purse. In betting terms “in the money” means to finish in the top three.

Irons: Stirrups.

Jockey Agent: An individual that obtains rides for a jockey.

Juvenile: A two year old horse.

Look of Eagles: A horse that has a confident look. John Henry had the Look of Eagles.

Lug In: A horse that bears (drifts towards the rail) in during the stretch run; usually the sign of a tired horse.

Maiden: A horse that has never won a race; or a race for horses that have never won a race.

Marathon: A race longer than 1 ¼ miles long.

Mare: A female horse aged five or older.

Middle Distance: A race longer than seven furlongs but shorter than 1 1/8 miles.

Miler: A horse that prefers to race at or near a mile in distance.

Minus Pool: When enough money is bet on one horse that the pool is insufficient, after the track take, to pay the holders of the winning ticket the legal minimum odds. In this situation, the track is required to make up the difference to ensure that the bettors are paid the full amount.

Morning Line Odds: The odds set by the track prior to the opening of the pools.

Muddy Track: A dirt track that is soft, wet and holding.

Oaks: A stakes race for three year old fillies.

Objections:A claim of foul by a jockey following the race.

Odds: The chances of a horse to win a particular race based on the pari-mutuel wagering of the general public.

Odds Board: The tote board, usually found in the infield.

Off the Board: A horse that fails to finish in the money.

Off the Pace: A horse that is lagging back in the early stages of the race.

Off-track: A racing surface that is anything other than Fast (Dirt) or Firm (Turf/Grass).

Optional Claimer: A race where the horses in the field may or may not be entered for a claiming price.

Overlay: A horse whose odds are higher than its actual chance of winning as determined by the player. For example, if a player determines that horse A’s odds are 4/1 that he will win, but the current odds at the track offer the horse at 10/1, that horse would be considered an “overlay.” Overlays are good, underlays are bad.

Pace: The speed of the leaders at each stage of the race.

Parimutuels: French system of wagering where winning bettors get all the money wagered by the losers, after a deduction of a percentage by the track (Take Out).

Pick 3 (or 4, 5, 6, etc): An exotic wager which requires the player to pick the winner in successive races.

Post: Starting gate.

Quarter Crack: An injury to the hoof of a horse.

Quarter Pole: Post on the infield rail that indicates two furlongs to the finish line.

Rank: A horse that refuses to be rated early on in the race.

Rate: To restrain a horse early on in the race in order to conserve energy for the later stages.

Route: Generally a race that is run around two turns.

School: To train a horse, generally in the starting gate or the paddock.

Scratch: To withdraw a horse from a race.

Shadow Roll: A roll of cloth placed across a horse’s nose in order to block its vision of the ground and prevent it from jumping at shadows.

Shake Up: Urging by the jockey, either with his hands or the whip, to make the horse run faster.

Shipper: A horse that has traveled from one track to another to run in a race.

Shut Out: When a player fails to make his bet at the window prior to the gate opening.

Sloppy Track: A track that is wet, covered with puddles, but not yet “muddy.”

Spit the Bit: When a tired horse stops running hard.

Sprint: A short race, seven furlongs or less.

Stewards: Three person panel that determines whether or not any rules violations occurred during the race.

Superfecta: A wager in which the player attempts to select the order of the first four finishers in a race. Due to the difficulty of this wager, a winning superfecta wager generally pays out at high odds.

Tag: Claiming price. A horse entered for a “tag” is entered in a claiming race.

Track Take: Money deducted from each pool for track revenue and taxes.

Trifecta: A wager in which the player selects the first three horses in a race in order.

Trip: The course followed by a horse and rider during the running of a race and describes the “trouble” encountered. A horse that had a “good trip” did not encounter any unusual difficulty. A “bad trip” might involve racing wide, or being boxed in by other horses.

Turf course: A grass covered course.

Under Wraps: A horse in which the rider is holding it back and intentionally keeping it running at top speed.

Washed Out: A nervous horse that is sweating.

track condition

It can change in an hour.

  • Ultimately you like to have a FAST track where the dirt track is level – with just the right amount of moisture that allows horses to get a good grip on the base of the surface. On a sunny day you will see our new water trucks working the track between races to help ensure the track’s optimum safety and speed.
  • A track rated GOOD means, for the most part, that some rain has added more moisture than the water trucks would.
  • MUDDY is the next level down from good, and most often the tractors will “float” the track with what is basically a huge squeegee to press the water toward the infield.
  • SLOPPY conditions are when you get the umbrellas out, and water is still on the track before it can drain. Surprisingly, some horses love the “slop,” and you can find that fact in the track program.