Grandstand, Santa Anita, c. 1908
On December 25, 1934, the Los Angeles Times ran a piece by Paul Lowry entitled "Horse Racing Has Its Own Peculiar Jargon."1 It was the final piece in a series leading up to the revival of racing at Santa Anita, which would open its gates that Christmas day after a hiatus of nearly a quarter of a century.
The point of the article was to help first-time racegoers to understand the sport by providing a glossary of terms they might encounter at the track. Many of those terms are still in use today. A few of them have fallen out of usage over time, and some were completely new to me; but some more seasoned racetrackers may recognize them -- and even wish to add a few of their own:
- Box car and telephone numbers: A winning bet at big odds.
- Goat: A poor racing horse.
- Impost: The total weight carried by a horse.
- Morning Glory: A horse which looks like a champion in the
morning and can't click in the afternoon.
- Nom de Course: Name other than his own under which an owner
races his horses, such as the Northway Stables (Norman Church).
- Plater: A horse which runs largely in claiming races.
- Rail Lugger: A horse such as Equipoise which bears to the
left for the inner rail.
1 Los Angeles Times, December 25, 1934, A14.
Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.