What Is a Horse Race?

Horse racing is a game of skill, and like any other game, it has its share of players. There are the crooks who cheat and dangerously drug their horses; there are the dupes who labor under the fantasy that the sport is broadly fair and honest; and there are the masses in the middle who know that the industry is more crooked than it ought to be, but still choose to make wagers and place bets.

An official sheet published by the racing secretary that lists the horses and their starting positions for an upcoming race card. Scratches that occur between the time of publication and actual race time can radically alter the size of the field, the post position assignments, and even the jockeys’ mounts.

A fixed scale of weights that horses are assigned according to their age, sex, distance of the race and the season of the year. The term “weight” also refers to the total weight of the jockey, his saddle and equipment (plus any extra weights that have been added at race time to bring a horse up to a specific weight assignment).

A runner’s position on a track’s course as measured at various points around the mile-and-a-half distance. The horses are placed in the pocket if they are near the inside rail; in the center if they are closer to the outside rail; and in the fence if they are farther from the inside.

The horse’s overall speed rating as reflected by his past performance lines. The higher the number, the faster the horse. A horse’s best speed figure is earned at the age of two, declines by 22.2 points between the early and middle part of the four-year-old year, and then rises again by 12.1 points from the peak to the five-year-old stage.

When a horse makes contact with a rival horse, especially during the running of the race. The horse often appears rank and erratic as it is being bumped, and usually looks similar to a bucking horse in a rodeo.

A horse that races in an uncontested lead and is not challenged by other horses for the victory. The horse is likely to have a high finishing percentage and may even win the race by a large margin. This is a good indication that the horse is in top form for this race.