The "Chronology" of Entering a Race
Entries are the official submissions by trainers which take place 48 or 72 hours, beginning at 7 a.m., before the day of the race to be run. (Note that Stakes and Handicap Races require a much longer lead-time). Because the tracks are generally closed at least one day a week, you must mentally "back up" the Entry date for a race being run on the day the meet resumes to the last racing day at the track.
Before any entry can be made, the specific horse must be registered with the Clerk of the Course (in the Racing Office), and its foal registration papers from The Jockey Club must be on file in the Racing Office.
Each entry must be accompanied by a form, filled out by your trainer, stating the name of the owner (or Partnership, Farm or Stable); the silks the horse will be running under; the name of the trainer, and which jockey is set to ride the mount -- as well as the horse's name, age, sex, color and parentage. The trainer must also specify if a horse runs with Lasix, if it has been gelded since its last race, and if it will be running with blinkers on or off.
Once all entries have been checked and processed, the Racing Secretary determines which races -- and their accompanying purses -- will be used to make up a day's program, or "card." He then determines "the set," meaning the order in which the races will be run on that day.
The "Final" is the announcement -- usually about 9:00 a.m. on a race-day -- of all the accumulated, confirmed entries for the day's written races. For any races that can accommodate more horses, entries will continue to be taken until about 10:30 a.m. The Draw is held.
If a race over-fills with entries, the actual starters will be chosen based in "preference conditions." Depending on how the race has been written (see related wording in Condition Book), a given horse may be "preferred" based on races previously run, or on the class in which the horse most recently competed. Most often, preference will be based on the "date system," meaning that the horse which has started most recently is the least "preferred."
"Also Eligible" is a mount on the "waiting list" for any given race. In the event that a horse entered in that race is declared ("scratched"), or withdrawn due to condition entry, a drawing by lot will determine which "also eligible" horse gains entry to the race.
Any race that does not have enough entries to meet the minimum number required to run the race is called "unfilled." For example, a race only attracts four entrants and the track requires at least seven horses to be entered in order to run the race. When a race written in the Condition Book fails to fill on the day it's published, that "unfilled" race may show up the next day as an "Extra" race.
A substitute race for which entries are actually taken and which might be used if other races do not "fill" is called an "extra."
When the "final" is announced, jockeys' agents, trainers and often owners assemble to witness the drawing of post positions. Usually, a Steward will be present at the draw to monitor the procedure and resolve any disputes that may arise. A member of the Racing Office staff will coordinate the draw, utilizing a "bonafide horseman" -- i.e., a trainer, jockeys' agent or owner -- to select the numbers, "pills," which represent post positions. (Here too is where horses are selected, if not by "preference," then by lot, if the race is over-subscribed).
Overnights are true "finals," which list all the races, horses and jockeys drawn for the race card 48 hours hence, as well as all extras for the next day. On any day entries are taken, this is the final word. As soon as the Overnights are published (usually by midday), the sheet is available by fax from the office of the Racing Secretary.