what does scratched mean in horse racing

In horse racing, “scratch” refers to a horse being withdrawn from a race before the start. This can occur for various reasons, such as illness, injury, or a lack of fitness. When a horse is scratched, its name is removed from the betting list, and any wagers placed on that horse are refunded. The reasons for scratching a horse are typically communicated to the race officials and announced to the public so that bettors can make informed decisions before placing their bets.

What Does Scratched Mean in Horse Racing?

In horse racing, a “scratched” horse or runner is one that has been withdrawn from a race. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Injury or illness
  • Lack of fitness
  • Trainer’s discretion

Horses can also be scratched if they have not met certain eligibility requirements, such as having sufficient earnings or having run in a qualifying race. In some cases, horses may be scratched even if they are eligible to run if the trainer believes that they are not ready to compete.

Injury or illnessThe horse has suffered an injury or illness that makes it unable to race.
Lack of fitnessThe horse is not fit enough to race.
Trainer’s discretionThe trainer has decided to withdraw the horse from the race for any reason.
EligibilityThe horse does not meet the eligibility requirements for the race.

When a horse is scratched, it is removed from the race and its betting odds are refunded. If a horse is scratched after the race has started, its finishing position will be recorded as “scratched” and it will not be awarded any prize money.

What It Means When a Horse Is Scratched

In horse racing, when a horse is scratched, it means that the horse has been withdrawn from the race by its trainer. There are several reasons why a horse might be scratched, including:

  • The horse is injured or sick.
  • The trainer does not believe the horse is fit to run.
  • The trainer wants to give the horse a break from racing.
  • The race conditions are not suitable for the horse.
  • The horse is entered in multiple races and the trainer wants to choose which one to run in.

When a horse is scratched, the bettors who have wagered on that horse will receive a refund. The horse will not be replaced in the race, so the field size will be reduced by one.

Scratched by the Trainer

The most common reason for a horse to be scratched is that the trainer has made the decision to withdraw the horse from the race. This can be due to any of the reasons listed above. However, the most common reason for a trainer to scratch a horse is because the horse is not fit to run. This could be due to an injury, illness, or simply because the horse is not in good enough condition to compete.

Trainers are required to scratch a horse if they believe the horse is not fit to run. This is done to protect the horse and ensure the safety of the other horses in the race.

Reason for ScratchExample
InjuryThe horse has a leg injury that prevents it from running at full speed.
IllnessThe horse has a respiratory infection that is making it difficult to breathe.
Not fit to runThe horse has not been training well and the trainer does not believe it is ready to compete.
Race conditions not suitableThe race is being run on a surface that the horse is not accustomed to, or the distance of the race is too long or too short for the horse.
Entered in multiple racesThe horse has been entered in two or more races and the trainer wants to choose which one to run in.

Scratched in Horse Racing

In horse racing, a “scratched horse” refers to a horse that has been withdrawn from a race for various reasons. While it can sometimes be a minor issue, a scratched horse often indicates a more serious problem.

Injury or Illness

Injury or illness is the most common reason for a horse to be scratched. Common causes include:

  • Lameness
  • Colic
  • Respiratory issues
  • Eye problems
  • Infectious diseases

These injuries or illnesses can range in severity from minor to life-threatening. In some cases, a horse may recover quickly, while in others, it may require extended treatment or rehabilitation.

Other Reasons

In rare cases, a horse may be scratched for reasons other than injury or illness:

  • Unsatisfactory performance in previous races
  • Concerns about the horse’s fitness or soundness
  • Trainer’s decision to save the horse for a different race


When a horse is scratched, it can have several consequences:

ConsequenceHow it Affects the Race
Reduced Field SizeA smaller field can make the race less competitive or exciting.
Odds ChangeThe odds on the remaining horses may adjust, potentially affecting payouts.
Disappointment for BettorsBettors who wagered on the scratched horse may incur losses.

It’s important to note that scratched horses are not necessarily “bad” horses. They may simply be experiencing a temporary issue that prevents them from competing at their best. Even scratched horses can recover and go on to successful racing careers.

Scratched in Horse Racing

In horse racing, a “scratch” means that a horse has been withdrawn from a race for any reason.

Rule Violation

If a horse is scratched after the official draw, the owner or trainer may be fined or suspended for a rule violation.

  • Scratching a horse to avoid competition
  • Scratching a horse to gain an unfair advantage
  • Scratching a horse for non-medical reasons

Reasons for Scratching

There are several reasons why a horse might be scratched from a race, including:

  1. Injury or illness
  2. Poor performance in workouts
  3. Trainer’s decision
  4. Owner’s decision
  5. Scratched Horses
    Horse NameReason for Scratch
    Man o’ WarTrainer’s decision
    CitationOwner’s decision

    Well, there you have it, folks! Now you know what “scratched” means in the world of horse racing. Thanks for joining me on this equestrian adventure! If you enjoyed this little lesson, be sure to drop by again soon. I’ve got plenty more racing wisdom to share, so stay tuned for future articles. Until then, keep betting smart and remember: even the best horses can get scratched sometimes!