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.

a field of horses race to the finish line

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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.