Feb 12 2015

Get A Leg Up↑ – Explaining The Terminology

Get A Leg Up Logo 001

In a prior article we introduced a new feature on our website, called “Get A Leg Up↑” – an ongoing series intended to give horseplayers “a leg up” on handicapping races.  Click here to read the introduction.

In this article we explain in greater detail the terminology you will be seeing in “Get A Leg Up↑” articles yet to come.   A link back to this article will be included in all future “Get A Leg Up↑” articles for easy reference in case you have any questions about the terminology used.

Over time, new terms will likely be added to the list.  When that happens, we will update this page so that the list is complete.

Form Indicator

Unlike other factors (e.g. Distance, Class, Speed Figures), “Form” is a fundamental component of handicapping that does not have it’s own column in the Past Performances. We will offer our own column, with acronyms for key Form considerations.  Click here to see a list of prior articles on the subject of Racing Form.

Acronym Meaning
* Very sharp in multiple recent races.
Steady improvement in Figures and/or Placing.
FTS First Time Starter (has never raced before)
x-S ‘x’ Start of Career (e.g. ‘2-S’ = 2nd career start)
L-xxx Layoff – Off xxx days
x-L ‘x’ Start following a Layoff (e.g. ‘3-L’ = 3rd start after layoff)
FT-ssss First Time on a new surface (ssss = Turf, Syn,Dirt)
F-Clm First race after being claimed.
? Questionable Recent Form

Handicapping Comments (Shorthand Translations)

The “Get A Leg Up↑” introductory article explains the content of our handicapping comments, and here we provide a quick reference chart with the shorthand translation for terms you will see included in the comments.  If you encounter a term in one of our write-ups that is not on this list, please make a comment on this article and we will add it to this list.

Shorthand Translation
// Separator between comments that are unrelated.
ALW Allowance Races
BC Breeders’ Cup
Beyer Beyer Speed Figures (in the Daily Racing Form)
CLM Claiming Races
DD Double-Digit (usually when referring to Odds)
DRF Daily Racing Form
Euro European
f Furlongs (e.g. 7f = 7 furlongs)
Fig(s) Figures, referring to either speed or pace figures. Actual figures will be shown in between square brackets (e.g. [102])
Fld Field (all of the horses in a race)
FTS First Time Starter (a horse that has never raced before)
GE Good Effort
G1, G2, G3 Grade 1, Grade 2, or Grade 3 Stakes Races
Gr.Stks All Graded Stakes combined (G1, G2, G3)
ITM In The Money (finished in top three)
M/L Morning Line Odds
MCL Maiden Claiming
MSW Maiden Special Weight
NA North America
NO Next Out (Where a horse placed in a race immediately after the one mentioned, for example: 3rd NO means they finished third in their next outing)
NOW Next Out Winner (When a horse wins a race immediately after the one mentioned)
NzX Non-Winners of ‘z’ number of races (e.g. N1X), restricted to horses who haven’t won more than one race other than maiden, claiming, or starter.
P-$xxxK Purse of a Race. For example, (P-$48k) = $48,000 Purse. Shown in all race headings.
PPs Past Performances
ROI Return On Investment (see below for an explanation)
Rt Route Distance (8 furlongs or more)
Sibs Siblings to a horse
Spr Sprint Distance (Less than 8 furlongs)
Syn Synthetic Surfaces
TFUS TimeformUS
TO Throwout (A prior race where a horse had no chance, so we’ll throw it out)
x-Turn Number of Turns in a race (e.g. contrasting a 2-Turn race with a 1-Turn race)
UC Uncontested Lead (when a horse is allowed to lead a race with minimal pressure from other horses)

Trainer Ratings and Records


Any Trainer Ratings quoted in our handicapping comments are obtained from TimeformUS.  They are on a scale of 0-100, and the higher the better.  Click here to read a prior article that fully explains the TimeformUS trainer ratings.  To distinguish ratings from figures, we will enclose trainer ratings in curly brackets, { }.  For example, Todd Pletcher’s rating with 2-year old FTS is {100}.  Big surprise, huh.


Records for trainers will be presented in one of two ways.  When the amount of data is large, we will show percentages in the following format:

xx% (Win), yy% (ITM), $z.zz (ROI)

These are self-explanatory, but here are a few examples:

Trainer Record (In Percentages Format) Meaning
Turf Rt:
20%, 50%, $2.75
In Turf Route races, this trainer wins 20% of the time, In-The-Money 50% of the time, and has an ROI of $2.75.
Gr.Stks, Dirt Spr:
15%, 45%, $1.75
In Graded Stakes, Sprinting on the Dirt, this trainer wins 15% of the time, In-The-Money 45% of the time, and has an ROI of $1.75
FTS, 2yr, Dirt Spr:
8%, 25%, $1
With 2-year old horses, making their first career start, Sprinting on the Dirt, this trainer wins 8% of the time, In-The-Money 25% of the time, and has an ROI of $1.00.

If the amount of data is small we might show the record in a slightly different format – including additional information, such as the number of starts and placings in the top 3 positions. Here is the format.


  • STR = Number of Starts
  • W = Number of Wins
  • P = Number of Place finishes
  • S = Number of Show finishes
  • ROI = Return On Investment (See Below for Full Explanation)

Here are some examples:

Trainer Record (In WPS Format) Meaning
Turf Rt at GP:
25-2/3/6, $0.75
In Turf Route races at Gulfstream Park, this trainer has 25 starts, won twice, three times finished 2nd, and six times was 3rd, with a 75-cent ROI.
G1, Dirt Spr:
32-5/2/4, $2
In Grade-1 Stakes, Sprinting on the Dirt, this trainer has 32 starts, won five times, twice finished 2nd, and four times was 3rd, with a $2 ROI.
FTS, 2yr, Dirt Spr at Sar:
45-13/5/2, $2.50
With 2-year old horses, making their first career start at Saratoga, Sprinting on the Dirt, this trainer has 45 starts, won 13 times, five times finished 2nd, and twice was 3rd, with a $2.50 ROI.

From these examples you can see that sometimes we’re being very narrow in our choice of statistics to present, and in those cases, it’s helpful to see a little more detail in the results.

Note on Format: For a very small number of starts, where the WPS results are all single digits, we will frequently drop the ‘/’ in-between the WPS numbers for the sake of readability.  For example, showing 12-123 instead of 12-1/2/3 … or 8-001 instead of 8-0/0/1.  It just makes it easier to read.

Record for an Individual Horse

When writing comments about an individual horse, we might want to highlight their record at a specific track, or on a certain surface, or at a specific distance, etc.  The format used will be exactly the same as just explained for a trainer’s record.  And, because horses have so few starts, it will generally be the abbreviated format explained above, where we drop the ‘/’ in-between the WPS numbers.  For example, a horse might have a record at Saratoga of 8-102.

ROI – Return On Investment

Is based on a $2 flat Win bet for every starter in the example. An ROI over $2 means you’d be making money. Anything under $2 means you’d be losing money. Here it is in real terms.

Let’s say there were 100 starters in the example. If you bet $2 to Win on every one of the starters, it would have cost you $200. If the ROI is exactly $2, then you would have received a total of $200 from all of your win wagers. So, you broke even.

However, if the ROI was $3.00, then you would have received $300 ($3 times your 100 wagers). So, your profit would be $100 ($300-$200). Put in financial terms, a 50% return on your investment. Nice!

But, let’s say the ROI was only $0.50. Here you would have received only $50 (50-cents times your 100 wagers) back on your win bets, meaning you lost $150 ($50-$200). Again, in financial terms, you lost 75% of your investment. Yikes! Baby is not going to get those new shoes.

We think ROI is a very important consideration when evaluating the strength of a trainer’s statistics.  If a trainer wins 20% of the time, that’s great for him or her.  But, as a horseplayer, if his ROI is well below $2 it doesn’t help me much … at least not in the Win pool.

If you’d like to learn more about individual trainers we have profiled in the past, click here for a list of the articles in our “Know Your Trainers” series.

M/L Odds Format

The Morning Lines Odds will always be presented in decimal format.  Click here to read an article explaining why we prefer to use decimal format. The following chart shows some typical translations.

M/L Odds Decimal Format Win Payout
(9-2) 4.5 $11.00
(7-2) 3.5 $9.00
(5-2) 2.5 $7.00
(9-5) 1.8 $5.60
(7-5) 1.4 $4.80
(4-5) 0.8 $3.60


If you don’t want to miss any of the future articles in this series, we recommend that you subscribe to the Blog via e-mail and/or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

TimeformUS Logo

For everyone that subscribes to the Getting Out Of The Gate Blog via the e-mail option, they will automatically be entered into a drawing to win a FREE FULL YEAR of PPs provided by TimeformUS.  This a $699 value.   Thanks TimeformUS!  The winner will be drawn randomly on April 1, 2015.  You can subscribe below.

*** Existing e-mail subscribers: You will be included in the drawing for the free year of PPs from TimeformUS.


[jetpack_subscription_form title=”Subscribe To Our Blog Via E-Mail” subscribe_text=”Enter your e-mail address to subscribe and receive notifications of new articles by e-mail. A confirmation message will be sent to you before your subscription becomes active.” subscribe_button=”Sign Me Up” show_subscribers_total=”0″]

Neal Headshot2
By Neal Benoit

3 comments on “Get A Leg Up↑ – Explaining The Terminology

Leave a Reply to ed kennedy Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *