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Off Track Betting Lexicon

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Unit of measurement about the length of a horse's neck.


Smallest advantage a horse can win by.




Claim of foul lodged by rider, patrol judge, or other official after the running of a race. If lodged by an official, it is called an inquiry.


The sportsbook's or bookmaker's view of the chance of a competitor winning (adjusted to include a profit). The figure or fraction by which a bookmaker or totalisator offers to multiply a bettor's stake, which the bettor is entitled to receive (plus his or her own stake) if their selection wins.

Odds Against

A term to describe that the odds are greater than evens (e.g. 5 to 2), when the bookmaker's or totalisator's stake is greater than the bettor's stake. For example, a horse that is quoted at 4:1 would be odds against, because if it wins a race, the bookmaker or totalisator returns $4 for every dollar a bettor places on that horse, plus his or her original outlay.

Odds Compiler

See Oddsmaker.


A person who sets the betting odds. Note that sportsbooks or bookies don't set the odds. Most major sportsbooks use odds set by Las Vegas oddsmakers.


Odds of less than even money. This is a bet where you have to outlay more than you win. For example if a horse is two to one odds-on, you have to outlay two dollars to win one dollar and if the horse wins you collect a total of three dollars (the two dollars you bet and the one dollar you won).


The sign displayed when result is confirmed. Also a racing official.

Off-Track Betting

Wagering at legalized betting outlets.

On the Board

Finishing among the first three.

On the Nose

Betting a horse to win only.


The money a bettor wagers is called his or her outlay.

Out of the Money

A horse that finishes worse than third.


A horse that is not expected to win. An outsider is usually quoted at the highest odds.


Where the book results in a loss for the bookmaker.


A horse going off at higher odds than it appears to warrant, based on its past performances.

Overnight Race

A race in which entries close a specific number of hours before running (such as 48 hours), as opposed to a stakes race for which nominations close weeks and sometimes months in advance.

Over the Top

When a horse is considered to have reached its peak for that season.


Surplus weight carried by a horse when the rider cannot make the assigned weight.

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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.