Vocabulary: Horse Racing

Readers will be able to grasp the meanings of new words in context, but for those who would like to go one step further in their knowledge of racing terminology, I’ve assembled a list of terms used in Chivalry. 


Works for the jockey and helps them secure mounts

Bug or Bug license

Apprentice license, signified in the program by an asterisk, which some say looks like a bug

Bullet/Bullet Work

Fastest workout


Triple Crown winner in 1948


Clicking or kissing sound to encourage the horse to run faster

Gallop Girl

Female exercise rider


The gap, or opening in the fence leading to the backside


1. The strap that runs around the horse and keeps the saddle on; 2. The horse’s chest; 3. The distance around the horse’s chest


The hotwalker walks “hots,” or horses that are heated after their workouts or races until they are cooled down


Nickname given to female jockeys in the late 60’s and early 70’s. A name not necessarily appreciated by the girls.

Journeyman license

A license with no restrictions


Great horse in the 1960’s


A veterinary pain reliever that became a “date rape” drug. Higher doses cause hallucinations and memory loss.


A person on horseback that catches loose horses, or helps slow horses after a race or work


A row of stalls for horses preparing for the next race. Horses are saddled and riders are boosted up here, then led to the track.

Paddock judge

The official who oversees activity in the paddock


Second Place


Total money paid to the winner, with less being given to the others in the race. In the era of this book, only the winner got the purse, with the other jockeys being given a small fee for riding. Over time, the pay scales changed, state by state, so that the first four finishers share the bulk of the purse.

Quarter pole

One quarter of a mile left until the finish. Other distances have poles as well. Eighth, Sixteenth, etc.


People who stand next to the rail day after day and bet on races


1. To ride a horse; 2. To hire a jockey to ride in a race. ex: “The trainer would not ride Rachel because she was female.”

Rider’s Up

The call given by the paddock judge for riders to mount their horses


A row of stalls in the barn


Third Place

Stable Pony

A horse, not a pony, used for leading horses before workouts or races

Stakes Race

Special races, currently graded I, II, or III. Before 1973, Stakes Races were not graded.


Jockey’s assistant, helps with saddle, silks or any other equipment


Long leather stick with a loop of leather on the end. Comes in different lengths and flexibilities.


First Place