Answer this question for us: Would you walk into a horse track for the first time and throw down a multi-hundred dollar bet on the horse with the cutest name?

We would hope not.

The best way to place the smartest horse racing bet is to have good sturdy knowledge of how to read a horse racing program.

A thoroughbred horse racing program has the ins and outs of the race, the horses, their past performances, and the jockey.

AmWager wants everyone to walk away a winner at the track so we have put together this easy to read guide to show both first timers and those who may be a little rusty how to read a horse racing program.

To bet correctly, you need to know how to read a horse racing program.

Want to learn how to read other racing programs?
Click over to our other guides!

How To Read A Harness Racing Program
How To Read A Greyhound Racing Program

Thoroughbred Horse Racing: How To Read A Program

A thoroughbred horse racing program can be broken down into two sections:

1. Information about today’s race
2. Details about the horses’ past performance

We have included a sample horse racing program below, labeled each section, and given a detailed description of each.

Knowing how to read a horse racing program will tell you about that day's race.

Information About Today’s Race

ADistance of the race
BRace Number - This indicates the order that race will run for the day.
CTrack Name - Designates the track where the race is run.
DExotic Wagers - Wagers offered in this race. (The exotic wager types listed are in addition to Win, Place, Show. If there is no minimum listed next to the wager, it has a $1 minimum.)
EProgram Number - Refers to the number the horse is listed under in the program. This is the number used for wagering purposes.
FOwner
GTRA Saddle Cloth Color - Indicates the color cloth the horse will have under his saddle. The saddle cloth will also display the program number of the horse.
HHorse’s name
IRace Day Medication - Indicates if the horse is running with Lasix or special equipment. L – Lasix, B- Bute, b – blinkers, f – front bandages
JHorse’s color, gender, age and pedigree
KWeight - Weight indicates how much the horse will be carrying in the race. This includes the weight of the jockey and all equipment.
LBreeder Information - The breeder of this horse.
MMorning Line Odds - Refers to the odds set by the track oddsmaker. This is an estimate of what the oddsmaker believes the chances are of each horse to win. (Odds can fluctuate based on how much money is bet on each horse prior to the race.)
NClaiming Price
OTrainer/Jockey Stats
PCurrent Year Record
QStarts
RFirst place finishes
SSecond place finishes
TThird place finishes
USpeed/Class Rating

Details About The Horses’ Past Performance

If you know how to read a horse racing program, you will find details about horse past performance.

1Race Dates - Race Dates show the dates of the horse’s past races (Look for trends on how often a horse runs and its success. Also see if it has been awhile since the horse’s last start. If it has been awhile, the horse may need more conditioning before running its optimal performance.)
2Race Track Abbreviation & Race Number - Shows the track where the horse ran and what race number.
3Course Conditions - Shows the condition of the track for that race. (Some horses will perform better over a wet track than they will a fast track. Look to see what conditions a horse does well or bad over)
4Race Restrictions - The age restrictions for the race: A race designated with 3^ would be a race for three-year-olds and up. A race designated with 4^ would be a race for four-year-olds and up. No designation means that the race was not age specific.
5Common Race Type Codes - This identifies the race condition a horse has run in the past. (It is important to identify if the horse has performed well in the past at similar conditions. If it has not done well in similar conditions before, you may find another horse that has done well instead.)
6Fractional Times of Race - Shows the split times of each of their previous races. (Use in conjunction with the Order of Calls to see if the horse benefited or hindered from either too slow or too quick of a pace.)
7Final Time of Race - The Final Time of Race shown in 100ths of a second for the noted race.
8Equibase Pace Figure - The Equibase Pace Figures are basically the horse's 'speed figure' at the first call of the race and is available for all Thoroughbred and Arabian races. (Based on the horse's actual time and other conditions, such as track condition, these figures allow you to compare a horse's performance at the early point of the race.)
9Post Position - Lists which post or gate the horse was in at the starting gate.
10Order of Calls - Lists where the horse was and how many lengths ahead the horse was at each point of call. The number of points of call will vary by race distance. (The Order of Calls show you a horse’s progression through each of its past races and can help you determine if the horse has a lot of speed or if a horse likes to do it's running at the end of a race. Comparing this to the rest of the field can help determine how the race will unfold.)
11 Final Finish Position & Beaten Lengths - The position where the horse finished. (Locate the horse’s best finishes to determine if it may do well in today’s race.)
12Jockey's Name - The name of the jockey that rode the horse in that race. (Look at the Jockey’s Name to see if they had success with this horse in the past. You can even see if a jockey that has ridden this horse in the past is riding another horse today.)
13Weight Carried By Horse - Shows the weight the horse carried in that race.
14Medication/Equipment - Indicates if the horse ran with Lasix or special equipment. L – Lasix, B- Bute, b – blinkers, f – front bandages
15Equivalent Odds - The decimal odds the horse went off at in the race.
16First Three Finishing Horses - Shows the first three finishers of the race, followed by the weight that horse carried and then followed by the number of lengths in front of the next position that horse was when it crossed the finish line. (Names in bold will be horses they are competing against in that race. Names in italics indicate the horse won its next start.)
17Comments Regarding Race - Reflects the chart comments listed for that horse in that race. (Comments Regarding Race gives you short notes about the horse’s performance in that race. Find out if the horse had trouble in a certain race, which could explain a bad performance.)
18Number of Horses in Race - Indicates how many horses started in that race.
19Morning Workouts - Morning Workouts show the date, distance and time of recorded works for that horse. (You will see how their workout time rated against all other horses that worked the same distance on that day (Ex., 1/24 – the horse worked fastest of 24 horses).

Thrill Of The Moment

Now that you know how to read a horse racing program, you can walk into the track with your head held high and hopefully walk out with a little extra green in your pocket. AmWager wants everyone to walk out a winner and we hope this guide will help make that happen.

Eager to digest even more horse racing information? Then visit our horse racing resource center for articles on horse racing and news about upcoming race picks from our expert handicappers.