how to read horse racing program

To understand a horse racing program, start by locating the race number and time. Then, read the column labeled “Horse” to identify the names of the horses running in the race. Next, check the “Jockey” column to learn who will be riding each horse. The “Trainer” column shows who is responsible for training the horses. The “Owner” column indicates who owns each horse. Finally, the “PP” column displays the post position, which is the starting position of each horse in the race. By understanding these key elements, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of the race and make informed betting decisions.

Understanding the Program’s Structure

Navigating a horse racing program can be daunting, but with a bit of guidance, it becomes a valuable tool for making informed betting decisions. Here’s a comprehensive guide to deciphering its structure:

  • Layout: The program typically consists of two sections: the racecard and the past performances.
  • Racecard: This section lists all the races of the day, their basic details, and the horses competing.
  • Past Performances: For each race, this section provides detailed information about each horse’s previous races.


Field NumberHorse NameJockeyTrainerOdds
1Baffert’s BobJohn DoeBob Baffert5-2
2Secretariat IIJane DoeSarah Smith7-1

Past Performances

DateTrackDistanceFinish PositionTime
2023-03-04Keeneland1 mile1st1:36.4
2023-02-18Santa Anita1 1/16 miles3rd1:42.1
  • Understanding the Racecard:
    • Field Number: The number assigned to each horse in the race.
    • Horse Name: The name of the horse.
    • Jockey: The rider of the horse.
    • Trainer: The person responsible for the horse’s preparation.
    • Odds: The probability of a horse winning, expressed as a ratio (e.g., 5-2 means a $2 bet will win $5).
  • Understanding Past Performances:
    • Date: The date of the race.
    • Track: The racetrack where the race was held.
    • Distance: The length of the race in miles or furlongs.
    • Finish Position: The horse’s finishing position in the race.
    • Time: The time it took the horse to complete the race.

Decoding Racing Information

Horse racing programs provide a wealth of information that can help you make informed betting decisions. Here’s how to decode the racing information in a typical program:

Race Number and Time

Each race is given a number and a scheduled post time. The race number helps you identify the race you’re betting on, while the post time tells you when the race is scheduled to start.

Horses and Jockeys

  • Horse Name: The name of the horse running in the race.
  • Jockey Name: The name of the jockey riding the horse.
  • Weight: The weight the horse will carry during the race, including the jockey and saddle.
  • Post Position: The stall number where the horse will start the race.

Trainer and Owner

  • Trainer: The person responsible for training the horse.
  • Owner: The person or organization that owns the horse.

Past Performances

Race DateTrackDistanceFinishMarginTime
MM/DD/YYTrack Name1 mile1st1 length1:40.00
MM/DD/YYTrack Name6 furlongs2nd2 lengths1:12.00

Past performances show the horse’s previous race history, including the race date, track, distance, finish position, margin of victory (or defeat), and time.

Pedigree and Bloodline

The pedigree section provides information about the horse’s family tree, including the names of its sire (father) and dam (mother), as well as other notable ancestors.

Other Information

  • Race Conditions: This section specifies any special conditions for the race, such as age restrictions or claiming prices.
  • Weather and Track Conditions: This section provides information about the weather and the condition of the racetrack.
  • Odds: The odds for each horse represent the probability of that horse winning the race, as determined by the track’s oddsmakers.

What’s Inside a Horse Racing Program

Horse racing programs are packed with information to help you make informed bets. Here’s a quick guide to what to look for:

Understanding Race

Each race has a race number, distance, surface, and purse. The race number is used to reference the race in other sections of the program.

Past Performance

  • Last Race Line: Shows the horse’s finishing position, race date, distance, track, time, and track condition.
  • BRIS Speed/Class Rating: A numerical rating that indicates the horse’s speed and class.
  • Running Style: A descriptor of how the horse typically races, such as front-runner or closer.
  • Jockey Changes: A list of jockeys who have recently ridden the horse.


This section provides information about the horse’s parents, grandparents, and siblings. It can give you insights into the horse’s potential ability and racing style.

Trainer and Owner

The trainer is responsible for the horse’s overall care and training. The owner is the individual or group that owns the horse.

Other Key Info

  • Post Position: The number of the gate from which the horse will start.
  • Morning Line Odds: The odds set by the track before betting opens.
  • Comments: Any additional information about the horse, such as recent workouts or injuries.

Example Past Performance Table

Race DateTrackDistFinishTime

The Easy Way to Decipher Horse Racing Programs

Horse racing programs contain a treasure trove of information. As a novice bettor, understanding these programs can be daunting, but this guide will simplify the process for you.

Identifying Important Factors

  • Horse Name: This is the name of the horse participating in the race.
  • Sire and Dam: These terms refer to the horse’s parents. Sire refers to the father, while dam refers to the mother.
  • Jockey: The rider responsible for guiding the horse.
  • Trainer: The person who prepares and trains the horse.
  • Post Position: The number that corresponds to the horse’s starting position on the racetrack.
  • Odds: This is the probability of the horse winning, expressed as a number (e.g., 2-1 means it has a 1 in 2 chance of winning).
  • Last Start: Information on the horse’s previous race performance, including its position and time.
  • Lifetime Earnings: The total amount of money the horse has won in its career.
  • Beyer Speed Figure: A numerical rating that estimates the horse’s speed and ability.

By understanding these key factors, you can start making informed betting decisions.

Additional Tips

Remember that horse racing is a form of gambling, so it’s important to gamble responsibly. Set a budget before placing any bets, and only bet what you can afford to lose.

It’s also a good idea to do your research before placing a bet. Check out websites and publications that provide horse racing news and analysis. This will help you make more informed choices.

Example Horse Racing Program
Horse NameJockeyTrainerPost PositionOdds
SecretariatRon TurcotteLucien Laurin11-1
Man o’ WarEarl SandeLouis Feustel42-1
CitationEddie ArcaroBen Jones33-1

Thanks for sticking with me through this quick guide on how to read a horse racing program. I hope it helps you make more informed bets and have a better time at the races. If you have any other questions, feel free to drop me a line. In the meantime, keep an eye out for my next article, where I’ll be discussing some of the most common horse racing betting strategies. Until then, good luck and happy betting!