JC / Railbird

Style Guide

Sources: Associated Press, American Horse Publications (PDF)

Clichés to Avoid

Damon Runyon, “Runyonesque”

New shooter

Racing’s fading glory, the death of racing

Quoting Red Smith re: Saratoga (drive north for about 175 miles, turn left on Union Avenue and go back 100 years)

Seabiscuit (comparison to)

Sparkling, scintillating (as descriptions of performance; also, coruscating)

“The boys” (as in, a female taking on …)

Grammar and Usage

Abbreviations: Write out the full form on first usage, unless the abbreviation or acronym is familiar or standard usage (TOBA, NYRA).

Serial comma: Required.

He/she/him/her: Horses are referred to by the appropriate gendered pronoun, not “it” or “its,” unless the sex of the horse is unknown.

They/their: Acceptable as a singular gender-neutral pronoun.


Ages: Abbreviated in headlines (2YO, 3YOs), written using figures in text (3-year-old, for 3-year-olds and up, the mare is 7 years old). When referring to age “at,” write out numbers less than 10 (at age two, at age 11).

Distances: Whole numbers written out (six furlongs, one mile). Fractional distances and distances more than one mile written as numerals (5 1/2 furlongs, 1 1/16 miles, 12 furlongs).

Grades/Groups: Abbreviated in headlines and on second reference (G1, G2, G3), written out and capitalized on first reference (Grade 1, Group 1).

Lengths: Whole numbers less than 10 written out (one length, three lengths). Fractional length less than one written out (half-length, three-quarters of a length). Fractional lengths and lengths more than 10 written as numerals (1 3/4 lengths, 31 lengths).

Poles: Written out (at the quarter pole, at the three-sixteenths pole, in the final sixteenth).

Career records: Wins for total (3-for-4, 19-for-20), total-win-place-show (20-19-1-0).

Times: Written in minutes, seconds, and hundredths of a second (1:06.98, :23.45).

Words and Phrases

account wagering, abbreviated ADW/ADWs
Beyer speed figure (BSF) [Note: DRF style capitalizes Beyer Speed Figure]
a tick = equals 1/5 or .2 seconds
undefeated = three or more wins