Track & Field / Horse Racing Idioms

Track and field events have an ancient history dating at least from the Olympics held in Greece two thousand years ago. Track and field sports include a variety of running, jumping and throwing contests,which take place on an oval track surrounding the field events area.

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There are two basic types of horse racing, flat racing and races where the horses jump over fences and other obstacles. Races vary according to distance, terrain or ground surface, type of horse, prize money and weighting system. Horses may be ridden by a rider or driven by a driver in a variety of vehicles. Races begin at a starting gate, a starting stall, or by someone waving a flag or lifting a wire. The first horse past the finish post is the winner. If two or more horses finish together, a judge decides which horses nose passed the post first.

Horse racing was one of the first sporting events and betting on horses one of the first forms of gambling in the United States. As early as 1740 horses were being imported from England by colonists for breeding purposes. On southern plantations blacks were used as jockeys by their slave owners. The War of Independence against England slowed the growth of the sport, but never stopped it. Horse racing is popular in the United States today as well in the rest of the world. Because horses have been used for transportation, recreation and racing, there are many idioms associated with their use.

Shrink

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
Track sports: The bar set for hurdles, high jumps, or pole vaulting is set high and higher for the runners or jumpers as the meets progress and the competition gets more difficult.
Sentence 1
The record for pole vaulting was set at Donetsk by Renaud Lavillenie. The bar was at 6.16 meters.
Meaning 2
The lowest bar set is the least restrictive and the least difficult.
Sentence 2
"The Corwyn (gun) bill would set a national bar at the lowest denominator."

Derivation

Track sports.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to start with an advantage, a head before the other runners
Sentence 1
They gave him a head start, because he was so little.
Meaning 2
to begin early
Sentence 2
We have a head start, because they faxed their contract to us and mailed it to the others.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
racing bets where one bets that the same competitor will place in first, second and third
Sentence 1
Let's bet across the board on American Pharoah.
Meaning 2
equally for everyone, everyone gets the same
Sentence 2
The new president will ask for resignations across the board.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to compete in sports in a timed event or against another competitor's time
Sentence 1
She's running against the clock and has only two seconds to better Cindy's time for first place.
Meaning 2
to be in a hurry to meet a deadline or time for completion of something
Sentence 2
I'm running against the clock here on this project. The architectural drawings are due next week.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
a horse which no one thinks will win but does
Sentence 1
The odds on the dark horse were ten to one, but he won.
Meaning 2
a person or company no one thinks will win but does.
Sentence 2
President Truman was the dark horse in the 1948 election.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
referred to the wire used to mark the end of a race; now the wires are electronic
Sentence 1
They were neck and neck down to the wire.
Meaning 2
the last few minutes before something must be accomplished
Sentence 2
I'll have to stay late tomorrow to get this finished. I'm down to the wire on the proposal.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
from the starting line for a race
Sentence 1
Her time from scratch to finish in the mile was just over four minutes.
Meaning 2
from the beginning
Sentence 2
I need you to work on this legal brief from scratch.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to compete for money
Sentence 1
That horse will give the crowd a run for it's money.
Meaning 2
to do the best one can in a competitive situation
Sentence 2
We'll give our competitor a run for their money. I think we can make the best computer peripheral.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
the horse is running its fastest
Sentence 1
That horse hit its stride at the second turn.
Meaning 2
to do one's best
Sentence 2
He's finally hit his stride and is doing his job well.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
in the final part of a race track between the last turn and the finish line
Sentence 1
The favorite horse was ahead by two lengths going into the stretch.
Meaning 2
in the final stages of an event, such as a business or political campaign
Sentence 2
Although the Democrats were ahead in the political campaign in August, the Republicans moved ahead in the stretch.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to begin before the official starts the race
Sentence 1
He jumped the gun and will have to start again.
Meaning 2
to begin too soon
Sentence 2
Please don't jump the gun and begin to prepare the budget until all the figures are here.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
The horses are running together
Sentence 1
They were running neck and neck in the stretch.
Meaning 2
to be an even race
Sentence 2
Who are the best students? Jim and Jane are neck and neck. They both get straight "A"s.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
moving at the start
Sentence 1
The sailboats were off to a running start as they passed the buoys.
Meaning 2
a good start on something
Sentence 2
Good outline. You're off to a running start on that essay.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to give the baton, a hollow cylinder of about twelve inches, to the next runner in a relay race
Sentence 1
He finished his lap and passed the baton to the next runner.
Meaning 2
to continue the task
Sentence 2
The older generation is passing the baton to the younger generation.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to move in a particular way, usually with speed, along a measured course
Sentence 1
The harness horse was put through its paces.
Meaning 2
to show someone or something how to do something according to a predetermined standard
Sentence 2
Please put the new secretary through the paces and show her the routines.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to run or compete in a timed event (same as against the clock)
Sentence 1
The horse raced against his previous time on the track.
Meaning 2
to hurry to meet a deadline
Sentence 2
We better race against time. The copy for the newspaper is due at four o'clock.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
Track and Field Sports: Raising the bar for high jumpers, for horses, or for track runners makes it more difficult. Lowering the bar makes it easier.
Sentence 1
The horses have to work harder jumping over those new bar heights.
Meaning 2
To make the job or decisions more difficult
Sentence 2
The Supreme Court raised the bar in a decision making it more difficult to show worker discrimination.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to ride a horse with rough shoes on its hooves over something
Sentence 1
The cowboys rode roughshod over the trail in order to get the cattle to market on time.
Meaning 2
to treat someone poorly
Sentence 2
Please don't ride roughshod on the new employee. Be nice.

Derivation

When cowboys took cattle a long distance to market the shoes on their horses became rough and would tear up the trail.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to be riding fast and/or dangerously
Sentence 1
He's riding for a fall in the steeplechase.
Meaning 2
to risk an accident or failure
Sentence 2
He's riding for a fall putting all his money in high risk stocks.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to be second
Sentence 1
She was runner-up in the hurdles.
Meaning 2
to be second in any competition
Sentence 2
We were runner-up in that ad campaign. We will not get the contract, but we came close.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to eliminate a horse from a particular race
Sentence 1
The horse was scratched from the race.
Meaning 2
to eliminate or stop a project
Sentence 2
Scratch that ad campaign. It won't work.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
The inside of a track is shorter than the outside; it is easier to win if one is on the inside of a track.
Sentence 1
The horse started on the inside track.
Meaning 2
to have information or a position which will make it easier to win
Sentence 2
He will be able to talk to the head of Disney first, because he has the inside track. He worked with Disney on a previous project.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to try and divert or confuse pursuers
Sentence 1
The fox crossed the stream to throw the dogs off his track.
Meaning 2
to confuse someone
Sentence 2
The questions threw the speaker off the track.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
Wire refers to the finish line
Sentence 1
The winner finished just under the wire ahead of the second horse.
Meaning 2
just barely in time, on time
Sentence 2
I turned in my paper to English class just under the wire.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
Running and or jumping over an obstacle (usually high jump)
Sentence 1
In an amazing feat of strength, the track and field star vaulted the highest bar in the meet.
Meaning 2
Being a top contender
Sentence 2
"Christie Vaults to Front Ranks of G.O.P. for 2016."
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
at the finish, to win by the length of a nose
Sentence 1
The horse won by a nose.
Meaning 2
to finish just a little better than the next person or business
Sentence 2
We won by a nose on that bid. We were only five hundred dollars under the next lowest bidder.
IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
to win a horse race with one's hands down
Sentence 1
Willie Shoemaker won the Derby hands down.
Meaning 2
to do the best one can in a competitive situation
Sentence 2
You'll get the job hands down. You're the best candidate they have.

Derivation

The jockey does not have to use the whip because the rider is so far ahead of the rest of the horses.

IDIOM ►
Meaning 1
a horse racing term for a horse that starts at the front of the pack, and finishes at the front for a win
Sentence 1
The favorite started right out of the gate in front and ended up the winner. He went wire to wire.
Meaning 2
In any competition, to start at the front and end up winning by staying at the front.
Sentence 2
McIlroy Goes wire to wire for Third Major Championship.