What Does 1-1/4 Mean in a Horse Racing Bet?

Horse racing has been around for centuries and has definitely not lost its charm. As with any other sport, technological advances have made it easier for us to place wagers and follow the races from home. This has not eliminated the thrill of betting on the racetrack or attending a live race, however. In this article, we will discuss some of the terminology used in horse racing and how to decipher the meanings behind the codes sometimes used when making wagers.

First And Second Home

When a horse wins a race, the winnings from that race generally go to pay for the race track’s expenses, such as the salaries of the jockeys, track maintenance, and promotion of the sport. A track can only afford to pay these expenses on one race at a time. After that race, the track typically has less money to pay the jockeys, so they have to wait until the next race to pay them. This is why you will hear jockeys and bookmakers speak of a track’s ‘first home’ and ‘second home’ victories.


When a horse wins a race in which it was entered, that win makes it a ‘straight’ horse. When a horse does not finish a race, it is said to be a ‘dead’ horse (or simply ‘dead’ for short). If a horse finishes a race in first place, it is said to have ‘broke’ the pole. When a horse is considered to be a strong contender for a race, it is said to have ‘bruised’ the favourite.


If a horse has not been entered in a race before, it is considered to be a ‘maiden’ horse. This means that it has never won a race. If a horse wins a race after having only entered with one previous loss, it is considered to have ‘burnt’ the maiden. When a horse loses a race for which it was entered as the favorite (or ‘hyped’ horse), it is said to have ‘blown’ the maiden.

Weight For Height

Some horses are taller or heavier than others. To determine how many pounds a horse should weight for its height, you would simply multiply the number of inches the horse is tall by four and then add 25 pounds. This is why, when a horse finishes a race, it is said to have ‘blown by’ a certain amount of weight.

For example, a 5’10” horse would weigh in at approximately 50 pounds, so if it happens to be a runner in the 40-45 pound range, it would be considered to have ‘blown’ by’ 15-20 pounds. Because of this, many racetracks give out ‘lightweight’ and ‘tall-weight’ trophies for these types of engagements.


The handicap system was developed to allow people with restricted budgets to bet on horse races without risking all of their money on one horse. If you are handicapped, you can still bet on the favorite, but you will also have a choice of four or five other horses in which you can place your bet. In many cases, handicapping allows you to ‘match’ the favorite racehorse with a pair of ponies or a colt so that you can get the best possible win-to-bet ratio.

When a horse wins a race with a handicap, that win will make it a ‘handicapped’ horse. When a horse loses a race with a handicap it is said to have ‘bagged’ the handicap. If a horse finishes a race with a handicap, it is said to have ‘blown’ the handicap.

For example, if you have bet $2.00 on a horse named ‘Nags’n’Nettles’ (a 5-1/2 favorite) in the 10th race at Pimlico Racecourse, you will have to pay $4.40 if Nags’n’Nettles loses, but you will have successfully won a $2.00 wager if Nags’n’Nettles wins. Thus, the winnings from this bet would be $2.00 plus $2.40 in winnings, for a total of $4.40.

Prediction Or Pre-Determination

Some people consider placing bets to be a form of ‘playing the odds’; that is, they consider it a game of luck. In order to combat this theory, many racetracks have adopted the policy of not taking wagers on pre-planned races. The reasoning behind this is that if someone is planning on betting on a horse race anyway, then they do not need to make a bet; they can simply go ahead and place the wager after the race. The problem with this is that it is often difficult to find out what exactly was going through the minds of the jockeys while they were racing. For this reason, many racing books do not take pre-planned bets or allow them to be placed after the fact. Instead, they only accept bets made on the outcome of an ongoing race – bets that can be changed, if necessary.

More Than Meets The Eye

When a horse wins a race, the owner will often tack on an ‘extra’ hundred or so dollars for ‘good measure.’ This simply means that the horse ran at least a little bit longer or faster than expected. There is usually no reason for this ‘additional’ money; it is simply a bonus for the bettor.

Some owners will also tack on an additional ‘riding fee’ to a race winner. This is due to the fact that riding a horse to victory is generally much more expensive than just placing the bet on a horse. Aside from paying the jockey, you will typically also need to pay for food, water, and some veterinary bills.

When a horse loses a race, the owner will likely give you the same bonus that was given to the winning horse, but it will not be collected as a ‘riding fee’. This is because the loser typically does not get any additional compensation beyond what was already paid to have them run in the first place.

Trophies Or Prizes

When a horse wins a race, the owner will often award them with a small trophy or prize. In some cases, these are simply small plaques that the owners give out themselves. In other cases, they will have the winners trophies made by a bronze company and then hand them out to the winners themselves. The reason why the owners do this is because they want to keep in touch with their customers and remind them of their wins. This is also why many racetracks offer ‘trophy packs,’ which contain various items from chocolate boxes to key chains that the owners can give out to the winners. The key chains, in particular, are very popular because they remind people of the races and the horses that they have supported throughout the year. The trophies themselves, however, are mostly just for show.


Many people consider putting together a ‘parlay’ to be a form of ‘winning big’ at horse racing. A parlay is similar to a pre-planned bet in that you are anticipating the outcome of a particular race. The difference, however, is that you are not simply placing a bet on the outcome of a one-off race; you are, instead, placing bets on a number of scheduled races. Each of these races must, however, either end in a ‘win,’ ‘place,’ or ‘show.’ Alternatively, you can get what is called a ‘boom’ or ‘bust’ – when a horse wins some races and loses others. When this happens, the overall results do not necessarily add up to a profit or loss.

Many people consider a parlay to be a good way to make extra money at horse racing. For this reason, you will often find many books that offer tips on how to place winning combinations of races.


Some horses are just better than others and will not do anything else other than race. Some owners will even go so far as to say that these are ‘no other purpose’ than to run. For this reason, many books will not accept wagers on these types of horses. If, however, a horse does something ‘special’ aside from just racing, such as pulling a wagon or carrying someone on their back, these are considered ‘offs,’ which are all valid betting options.