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Off Track Betting Dictionary

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Every horse shares a "birthday" of January first. A horse becomes one year old on the first of January after he or she is born, and turns two, one year later - regardless of the actual date of his or her birth.

Allowance Race

A race other than claiming for which the racing secretary drafts certain conditions to determine weights.



Blanket Finish

Or photo-finish in which two or more horses are very close at the finish line (one can "throw a blanket over them"). Very common in American Quarter Horse racing.


When a horse gallops, instead of trotting or pacing, it's on a break. The driver must get the horse out of the way of the others, must not improve his position, and must attempt to get the horse back on its proper gait. A horse is not automatically disqualified by making a break.


A racetrack with either a half-mile or 5/8ths mile oval.



Claiming Race

Race in which horses are entered subject to claim for a specified price.


A male horse, age three or under.



Daily Double

A type of wager calling for the selection of winners of two consecutive races, usually the first and second.

Dead Heat

A tie. Two or more horses finishing equal in a race.


A stakes event for three-year-olds.


The amount that a winning or placed horse returns for every $1 that was bet.

Double Quinella

A wager type that requires the selection of the first two finishers, regardless of order, in each of the two specified contests. This wager type is also known as quinella double.




A horse entered in a race is called an entry. On rare occasions, two or more horses are said to be coupled and run as an entry, comprising a single wagering unit. A wager on one horse of an entry is a wager on both.


A wager that picks the first two finishers in a race in the exact order of finish. Also referred to as Perfecta.

Exacta Box

A wager in which all possible combinations using a given number of horses are covered.


Any wager other than win, place or show.


The amount of money one actually stands to lose on a game or race.


Forced to run at top speed.

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Parimutuel betting (French for mutual betting) is a betting system in which all bets of a particular type are placed together in a pool; taxes and a house take are removed, and payoff odds are calculated by sharing the pool among all placed bets.

The parimutuel system was invented by Parisian perfume maker Pierre Oller in 1865 when asked by a bookmaker friend to devise a fair system for bettors which guarantees a fixed profit for the bookmaker.

The large amount of calculation involved in this system led to the invention of a specialized mechanical calculating machine known as a totalisator, "automatic totalisator" or "tote board".

The first was installed at Ellerslie Racecouse in Auckland, New Zealand on 1913. Since then totalisators came into widespread use at race courses throughout the world. The first totalisator in the US as installed at Arlington Park, near Chicago, Illinois in 1933.

The parimutuel system is used in gambling on horse racing, greyhound racing, jai alai, and all sporting events of relatively short duration in which participants finish in a ranked order.

A modified parimutuel system is also used in some lottery games such as Lotto South.

Parimutuel gambling is frequently state-regulated, and offered in many places where gambling is otherwise illegal. Parimutuel gambling is often also offered at OTB facilities, where players may bet on the events without actually being present to observe them in person.

Parimutuel betting differs from fixed odds betting in that the final payout is not determined until the pool is closed - in fixed odds betting, the payout is agreed at the time the bet is sold.