Did you know? Little known or oft-misunderstood horse racing facts

Pick Pony |March 25, 2024, 6:54 p.m.

Did you know?

- Nearly all of today's racehorses can be traced back to one of three foundational stallions: The Darley Arabian, The Godolphin Arabian, and The Byerley Turk.
- Two-year-olds do not compete against older horses in any class of races including Maiden, Claiming, Allowance, or Stakes.
- Males cannot participate in races restricted to females (Fillies and Mares) only.
- Races are not restricted to males only, meaning females can enter any race as long as they meet age requirements.
- In a race's conditions, a lack of mention of Fillies and/or Mares indicates that the race is open to both males and females.
- Like two-year-old restrictions, many races are limited to three-year-olds only, particularly in the first half of the racing season.
- All horses born in the same year have an official birth date of January 1.
- Morning odds are determined by a single person at the track and may change by race time.
- Post position is more important in two-turn mile races than in one-turn miles.
- Four fundamental factors to consider are speed (including speed, stamina, and determination), class (the quality of competition it has defeated), pace (whether the horse will be comfortable with the pace or find it advantageous), and form (the horse's physical condition, either improving or declining).
- Speed can be misleading as the final time is influenced not only by the speed and condition of the horses but also the speed and condition of the track surface.
- A "length" is approximately 1/5 of a second.
- Horses typically rally to the outside to avoid getting trapped behind tiring horses on the rail.
- If a horse has higher odds than the morning line, consider placing a small bet. For example, if the morning line on a horse is 6/1 and it goes off at 27/1 odds, it might be worth the bet.
- The favorite wins about 33% of the time. Good favorites are the ones you want to key, that is, put in the win position in exotic wagers.
- Avoid bad favorites, horses often favored to win (denoted by an asterisk next to the horse's win odds) but don't.
- When placing an exotic wager using multiple horses and/or multiple races, use a $1 bet unit if available. The IRS taxes your race winnings at 300/1 odds or higher for a $2 bet. However, if you use a $1 unit, you won't pay taxes until your race winnings are at 600/1 odds or higher.
- Horses dropping in class win more than those rising in class.
- Betting on overlays can be profitable, but results might not always be immediate.
- Dirt races favor horses with speed.
- Horses running in state-bred non-winners allowance races are among the slowest. Even low-level claiming horses can win these races decisively.
- With 10-1 shots, you can still profit even if you lose 90 out of 100 times. Winning just 10 out 100 returns $220 on one hundred $2 bets.

Plus Official horse colors

There are seven official colors for racehorses. Each color has an abbreviation, which you can find next to each horse on the racecard on raceday.

- Grey (Gr) – ranges from bright white to steel-colored grey.
- Bay (B) – covers a variety of brown shades, from bright bay to dark bay, which is almost black. Bay horses have black manes and tails.
- Chestnut (CH) – a red or ginger coat color, with a mane and tail to match.
- Roan (Ro) – a Roan horse has an even mixture of white hairs mixed with another color.
- Brown (Br) – a horse registered as Brown will also have a brown mane and tail.
- Black (Bl) – a purely black horse, which is rare.
- White (Wh) – this classification is also rare. Most horses that appear to be white are usually classed as Grey, with black skin. Grey horses tend to lighten in color as they age.

Horse age and sex

Horses are generally considered fully grown by the age of 6. Their peak performance typically occurs between 4-5 years, with some continuing to race up to 8 years. However, few horses race after reaching 10 years old.

- Male < 5 years old - Colt.
- Male > 5 years old - Horse.
- Male that is castrated is called a Gelding.
- Female < 5 years oold - Filly.
- Female > 5 years old - Mare.