Racing Lingo

Preakness Picks

125th Preakness

May 20, 2000

Every game has its own lingo, which newcomers tend to find baffling, and racing is no exception. Here's a sampler.

ACROSS THE BOARD: This is a bet on one horse to win, place and show. It gets this name because if your horse finishes first, you get all three payoffs shown on the infield tote board -- the win, place and show prices. If the horse runs second, you get both the place and show prices, and if it runs third, you get only the show price. A standard across the board bet costs $6.

BLINKERS: Blinkers are headgear worn by horses who have a tendency to be easily distracted. Blinkers limit their peripheral vision so they can focus on racing.

BACKSTRETCH: The straight part of the race track across the infield from the grandstand.

CHALK: The horse favored to win a race is known as the "chalk." This term comes from the days when bets were taken only by bookmakers, who listed prices and bets on a chalk board. The horse on which the most money was bet had the most chalk beside it's name.

CLUBHOUSE TURN: If you are in the grandstand facing the infield, this turn is on your right -- in front of the track's clubhouse, hence the name. Races of more than a mile start in front of the grandstand, and this is the first turn horses enter before heading into the backstretch, the far turn and the homestretch.

FAR TURN: If you're in the grandstand facing the infield, this turn is on your left. It is the turn horses enter as they leave the backstretch and head for homestretch and finish line. Races of less than a mile start on the backstretch, so this is the first and only turn in such a race.

FURLONG: A furlong is an eighth of a mile. Races are measured in furlongs, or fractions of them. Common distances are 6 furlongs, a mile, a mile and a sixteenth, a mile and an eighth. The Preakness is raced at one mile and three sixteenths.

HOMESTRETCH: The straight part of the race track in front of the grandstand, where horses race to the finish line.

LASIX: During the exertion of a race, horses can bleed from tiny capillaries in their lungs. Lasix is a diuretic medication given to such horses to counteract the effects of bleeding.

POST TIME: The time the race is scheduled to begin.

SILKS: These are the colorful outfits worn by jockeys. They are designed by the owners of the horses the jockeys are riding.

TOTE BOARD: In the infield of every race track is a big scoreboard that displays the amount of money bet on each of the horses, the time remaining before the race starts, the odds on each horse and, after the race, the amount various bets will pay, based on a $2 wager.

WIRE: Where the race ends. There is, of course, no actual wire, but along the inside rail you can see a post with a mirror facing the track that marks the spot. This is where photos of the finish are taken, in case the result is so close that judges need to look at the picture to see who finished first.

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