angle-left What Are the Types of Quarter Horse Races?

What Are the Types of Quarter Horse Races?

From stakes races to claiming races, these are 20 facts about Quarter Horse racing.

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Just as it’s helpful to have a handle on the glossary of horse racing terms, it’s essential to know the six types of Quarter Horse races.

Stakes Races

  • These races offer Quarter Horse racing's largest purses.
  • They are races in which the purse consists of nomination, and/or starting fees, plus money added by the track or sponsor.
  • These races generally attract the highest quality horses and are abbreviated by the name of the stakes. For example: Allamerfut 1 meaning All American Futurity (G1).
  • Graded races are the premier stakes races, whereby a Grade 1 (G1), Grade 2 (G2) or Grade 3 (G3), designate the class of horses participating.
  • The size of purse, amount of added money and the historical significance of the race also are determining factors in the grade status.
  • Grade 1 (G1) is the highest designation.
  • Some stakes races are restricted to horses bred in a particular state or to horses by participating stallions.
  • Some restricted races are graded, whereby a restricted Grade 1 (RG1), restricted Grade 2 (RG2) or restricted Grade 3 (RG3) designate the class of horses participating.

Handicap Races

  • These races feature better-quality horses to which the racing secretary or track handicapper assigns weights designed to equalize the winning chances of entrants.
  • The better horses get higher weights to enable a horse with a lesser record to have a chance at winning. The designation HDCP is utilized.

Claiming Races

  • Claiming races are the most common, constituting approximately 70 percent of all races run.
  • In these races, horses are entered for a specific price and can be purchased or “claimed” by any licensed owner at the track for that price.
  • This tends to equalize the class or competition in these races.
  • An owner who has a $25,000 horse is not going to put him in a race with a field of $5,000 claimers for fear that someone would claim his horse at a greatly reduced value.
  • These races are designated by the claiming price (5000). A “C” in front of the claiming price in the past performance line means the horse was claimed in that race.

Allowance Races

  • An allowance race is a non-claiming race for better quality or more lightly raced horses.
  • These races generally offer higher purses than claiming races.
  • Eligibility requirements and conditions are similar to those of claiming races, and weight allowances are given based on winnings and/or number or type of wins in a given time.
  • These races are designated by ALW plus the purse (ALW12500).

Maiden Races

  • Maiden (MDN) races are limited to horses that have never won a race.
  • There are two types of maiden races: “Maiden Special Weights” for better horses and “Maiden Claiming,” which is designated by the claiming price (MD5000).


  • A trial (TRL) is a race designed to determine the qualifiers for a final, based on the fastest qualifying times or order of finish.
  • A trial might be run as a purse race, or it might be run with no purse at all.