What Does Scratched Mean In Horse Racing?

We often get asked, what does scratched mean in horse racing?

The Quick Answer

What Does Scratched Mean In Horse Racing?

Scratched means that a horse will not be running in a race it has been declared to run in.

Scratched is a popular term that is used in horse racing in the US and some other countries around the world. It is the equivalent of the term ‘non-runner’ that is used in horse racing in the United Kingdom and Ireland and some other countries where horse racing takes place.

Reasons Why Horses Are Scratched?

Racehorses can be scratched or declared a non-runner for a variety of reasons. One of these is that a vet is not happy with the condition of the horse. The vet will then issue a vet’s certificate to say why he thinks the horse should not be running in the race.

One of the main reasons why vets issue a certificate is that a horse is lame. This is when a horse is not walking in a satisfactory manner and can be the result of a horse knocking a joint in its horsebox or it could have stood on a stone or other object.

Scratching a horse for lameness is a way of protecting all parties involved. It protects the horse from potentially suffering a worse injury, and the connections of that horse having to deal with the possibility of their horse getting injured.

Scratching a horse for lameness also protects the bookmakers from being taken for a ride. If horses were allowed to run when lame, unscrupulous characters would be able to take advantage of this by betting on the horses that weren’t lame.

Horses can be scratched at any time. Horses may get a vet’s certificate at home in their stables, once they’ve got to the racecourse, or even down at the starting gates.

Why Do Trainers Scratch Their Horses?

Horse racing trainer may decide to scratch their horses for a variety of reasons, but the main one is the ground being very different from when they declared the horse to run. May racehorses prefer a specific type of ground. For example, some horses want a fast surface to run on. If the ground changes to soft, a trainer will often scratch a fast-ground loving horse.

The main reason for scratching a fast-ground loving horse when the ground turns soft is that it has no chance of winning the race. But scratching horses when the ground isn’t right for them can also prevent injuries.

Fast-ground horses tend to have smooth flowing actions that simply don’t work on soft ground, so this can lead to them pulling muscles or damaging tendons. Equally, horses that love soft ground are seldom asked to race on fast ground. This is because they simply can’t run as fast as they need to under such conditions and asking them to do so could cause them to damage their legs, etc.

What Is A Late Scratch In Horse Racing?

A ‘Late scratch’ in horse racing is when a horse is scratched down at the starting gates. This can be because a horse has proved impossible to load into the starting gates. It can also be because it got upset in the starting gates and either injured itself or the vet decides it is too worked-up to run.

Another reason for a late scratching is that horse bolt on their way down to the start. If they’re not caught quickly, they usually use-up an unfair amount of energy and this means they will have little chance of winning the race.

Can Horses Be Scratched For No Reason?

Trainers normally need to have a good reason to scratch a horse. If the horse is unfit to race, then this needs to be confirmed and certified by a vet. If a horse is withdrawn because of the ground, the trainer normally needs to be able to highlight that a horse has run poorly under the prevailing conditions before or needs to have stated that a horse will be withdrawn under such conditions.

What racing authorities are trying to avoid by implementing such measures is horses being withdrawn simply because they have been given an unfavourable draw. As it would be a nightmare if all unfavourably-drawn horse were withdrawn from every race.

What Happens To My Bet If My Horse Is Scratched?

What happens to your bet when a horse is scratched will depend on what type of bet you placed and when you placed it.

If you placed your bet ante-post on a race where your bookmaker was not offering non-runner-no-bet (NRNB), you will normally lose your money.

If you placed your bet after the final declarations, you would normally get your stake back if you have placed a single win or each-way bet.

In multiple bets, this works differently. For example, if you had placed a Yankee, you have placed six doubles, four trebles, and a four-timer.

Doubles with a scratched runner become singles, trebles become doubles, and four-timers become trebles.

If you’ve placed forecast or tricast bets, you need to check the rules of your bookmaker regarding scratched runners. You may find that the bet is void or that a forecast becomes a single on the other runner or a tricast becomes a forecast on the other two runners.

If you’ve placed a pool bet with the tote or another form of on-course bookmaker, you should also check their rules. Some may return your stake on scratched runners, while others may give you the favourite as an alternative runner.

We hope that’s answered your question about, what does scratched mean in horse racing. If you’re looking for more horse racing advice, you’ll find lots of helpful articles here on the Betting Gods blogs. If you’re looking for horse racing tips, please feel free to check out our free tips section or our professional horse racing subscriptions. Happy punting!

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