What Does Handicap Mean in Horse Racing?

In horse racing, the term handicap can refer to a type of race, the weight added to a horse to slow down or a way to compare horses for betting. The term comes from hand-in-cap, a lottery game popular in the 17th century, where bets were placed in a cap.

A handicap race is often suitable for very good horses. The racing steward assigns weight based on the previous performance of a horse. All the equipment on the horse, including the saddle and the jockey count as the weight called handicap. Betting in a handicap race is usually difficult, as there are many variables to consider.