What is a race program, and how do you read it?
Programs differ from track to track, but all are there to help you choose a horse on which to place a wager. Use the program to evaluate a race and decide which horse you think would make the best bet.
Every horse is assigned a post position number. The program will always list each horse’s owner, trainer and jockey.
The program also lists a brief pedigree. An example is Refrigerator’s pedigree, which would be listed as “Rare Jet – Native Parr by Heisanative (TB).” That means Refrigerator’s sire (father) is Rare Jet, his dam (mother) is Native Parr and his maternal grandsire is Heisanative (TB).
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In American Quarter Horse racing, the “TB” signifies a Thoroughbred horse. A Thoroughbred can be crossed with an American Quarter Horse to produce an appendix American Quarter Horse. These horses are allowed to compete in events just like a full-blooded American Quarter Horse. The program also lists their sex, either mare or filly (m./f.), stallion or colt (h./c.) or gelding (g.); colors such as chestnut (ch.), sorrel (s.), gray (gr.) and bay (b.); and their age.
If a horse is using special equipment, such as blinkers, that will be noted. Blinkers are a piece of equipment put on the horse’s head with special cups around the eyes. They block part of the horse’s view, to both sides and to the rear, so he is able to concentrate on racing.
A horse using legal medications including bute (phenylbutazone) or Salix (also known as “Lasix” or furosemide) also will have that noted. Bute is a mild pain reliever equivalent to human aspirin. Salix is used to prevent bleeding in the lungs, a condition called pulmonary edema, which can afflict a racehorse during intense physical exercise.
Finally, racetracks add past performances to the programs, where the horse’s race history is detailed. Reading past performances can be intimidating to a newcomer, so find someone who is experienced or inquire with the track handicapping corner.
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