What are the Types and Classes of Horse Racing​?

Whether you are new to thoroughbred horse racing or an experienced handicapper you need to know what the types and classes of horse racing are.  It can get a bit confusing when you are new to the sport, but hang in there we will explain it to you.

There are several different qualifications for each race from sex, weight, and age just to name a few. These criteria’s are to make the race a competitive and exciting to watch as a Thoroughbred Horse Racing Enthusiast.

Once you understand the types and classes of races you are going to wager on it can make it a bit easier to know how to bet. 

Types and Classes of Horse Racing

Claiming Horse Races

Claiming Races are when owners can buy or sell their thoroughbred horses. Every thoroughbred horse running in a Claiming Race can be purchased “claimed” for a specific claiming price prior to the race.  The horses usually have a similar value in price, weight, and age.  

A claim has to be put in before the actual race goes off. The outcome of the race is inconsequential once the horse has been claimed.  The prices range on a low end of $1,000 to as much as $100,000.

The previous owner receives any winnings if the horse is in the money and the new owner receives the horse. Over half of the Thoroughbred Horse Races in America are Claiming Races, this serves as a way for owners to buy and sell horses. 


Optional Claiming

Optional Claiming Race is similar to a regular Claiming Race explained above but with a few modifications.  With Optional being the obvious difference, every thoroughbred horse is not for sale, it’s an option of the horse owner.  

It’s also considered to be for entries at the highest claiming level. The price point starts at $75,000 and up. The horse can be entered in the race to be claimed or not to be claimed which is determined solely by the current owner. 


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Maiden Horse Races

Every American Thoroughbred Horse starts their career as a Maiden Horse but not in a Maiden Race. Sound confusing, let us clear it up for you.

Maiden Races are for thoroughbred horses who have never won a race. It can be for horses that have raced several times but have never won a race.  A Maiden Race is not where all horses start their racing careers.  

It is not stated that a horse must start their career in a Maiden Race until they win.  If a horse is an offspring of a pedigree horse they could start in a Claiming Race or Stakes Race. 

If the owner believes they own a thoroughbred horse that doesn’t have a Pedigree history, they could sell the horse right out the gate.   


Here are the two classes of Maiden Races

Maiden Claiming Races

A Maiden Claiming Races are horses who have had an unsuccessful attempt at winning and are eligible to be claimed.  The horse has to be claimed before the race even starts, and if the horse wins the previous owner receives the purse winning.

Thoroughbred Horses beginning their career in a Maiden Claiming Race have failed show their trainers/owners talent during training.  The trainer/owners place them in a Maiden Claiming race to sell at a lower price level.

Maiden Special Weight

A Maiden Speical Weight Races are the high-quality horses that are predicted to rapidly “break their maidens”. With the expectations of moving on to more significant competitions.

Horses competing at this level cannot be claimed and include special restrictions for this type of race. 

The restrictions are based on age, sex, surface, and distance.  A trainer could find the right Maiden Special Weight Race so their horse could win. 



Allowance Horse Races 

Allowance Races have specific conditions for Non-Maiden Horses and the horse is not for sale.  The Horse needs to meet certain conditions before it’s “allowed” to compete in the race.  

There could be several conditions in Allowance Race can have or none at all.  These types of races have purses that are usually higher but just rated below the Stakes level.  An Allowance Race will have Purse Value then what the conditions are for that race. 

An Allowance Race will have Purse Value then what the conditions are for that race. For a full detail of what the conditions can be Brisnet.com explains it the best.


Stakes Horse Races

Stakes Races are the highest level of competitions in Thoroughbred Horse Racing.  This is like the SuperBowl or the World Series in the Horse Racing Sport. 

The term Stakes refers to the entry fees due when a horse is eligible to participate in a Race.  There are 4 types of Stakes Races a G1, G2, G3, and Stakes.  G1 (Grade 1) is the highest and most expensive race there is in American Thoroughbred Horse Racing. 

Graded Stakes Horse Races

The highest quality of horses compete at this level of racing with the highest purses available. Stakes races are at four separate levels, Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3, and Stakes Race. 

Grade 1 is the highest possible classification with the largest purses involved. The Triple Crown of racing (Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes) are all Grade 1 races.  

The largest purse on a Grade 1 Stakes race as of 2017 is the Pegasus World Cup with a $12 Millions dollar purse payout.  The second largest is The Dubai World Cup $10 Millions dollar purse payout. 

There are the Types and Classes of Horse Racing

So now you are ready to wager on your first horse race.  What is the best wager to start with?

Or if you just want to Horse Around here are some Horse Fun Facts to check out.  



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