angle-left What Is Black Type?

What Is Black Type?

Black type can convey superiority in racehorses; here’s what to know about it.

three horses racing (Credit: AQHA)

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Black type, at a glance, specifies a level of superiority in a racehorse. Breeders want it, horsemen look for it and horses need it. A horse’s name printed in bold-faced “black type” letters designates that the horse has won or placed in a stakes race.

Black type is a simple concept but is often complicated, because the devil's in the details. Here are a few common errors made when trying to decipher black type: 

  • Public misconception: Just because a track calls a race a “stakes” doesn’t mean that the horses earn black type. The problem most times is that it’s not an official stakes, causing confusion. 
  • Mistakes in record keeping: Often, a track employee setting up the race for Equibase apparently also thinks it’s an official stakes and notates it as such. The error continues down the line into the Equibase system. The best policy is for a race to be correctly notated by the racetrack to begin with.
  • Even trainers get fooled: It’s not unheard of for trainers to recommend races that don’t qualify (as official stakes) to owners because they think the horse will earn black type, but then it doesn’t meet the specific AQHA rule criteria.
  • Confusing naming conventions: Claiming races can’t be stakes and maiden races can’t be stakes, but there are races called a “Claiming Stakes” or a “Maiden Stakes.” Those are not official stakes and they don’t make black type. 

Horses that win or place in an official AQHA-approved stakes race earn black type. But this simple concept hinges on very specific criteria. To begin with, the race in which those horses run first, second or third has to be an official stakes for American Quarter Horses to be eligible for AQHA certification as a stakes or restricted stakes race. 

Read more about the necessary conditions, as detailed in the AQHA Official Handbook of Rules and Regulations under RAC306.