It’s a common problem for new bettors: you’ve had your eye on a horse for weeks, but when you arrive at the track ready to place your bet, you see something next to their name — “SCR”? What does SCR mean?
SCR is short for “scratched,” meaning a horse will no longer be taking part in a race. This is sometimes a decision made by the trainer and team, or occasionally by race officials. Scratches are not uncommon — oftentimes, a horse will be entered into a race months or even years in advance, meaning it can be tough for trainers to predict the exact condition and readiness of the horse ahead of time. Having your favorite scratched from a race can be disappointing, but it’s a reality of racing bettors need to be aware of going in. Let’s explore why horses get scratched, and how it impacts you as a bettor.
Why Would a Horse Get Scratched From a Race?
Horses are scratched from a race when it’s determined they are unfit to race. There are a number of reasons a horse might get scratched from a race, including:
- Illness or injury — Oftentimes a horse’s team will withdraw if they believe the horse is suffering from health problems that could impair its track performance; if it goes unnoticed, the track veterinarian can pull a horse if they find issues during their inspection that could lead to further injury or endangerment of other racers.
- Poor temper — Sometimes a horse just isn’t up to racing that day. Throwing off a rider or being unruly in the gate are common reasons for scratching a horse. Trainers will pull a horse if they feel it is unready to perform at its best.
- Poor conditions — Sometimes trainers will scratch their horse on account of unforeseen track conditions. For instance, unexpected rain can cause the track to become muddy. If you know your horse doesn’t perform well on a muddy track, it may make sense to withdraw rather than risk injury.
- Steward scratching — Stewards can scratch a horse if it no longer qualifies for that race. For instance, weight gain or loss can disqualify a horse from a particular race.
Ultimately, it comes down to doing what’s best for the horse. Most scratches occur because someone determined racing a horse could endanger its health or the safety of other racers.
What Happens if I Bet on a Scratched Horse?
Most times, a bettor’s ticket will simply be voided if they have bet on a horse that ends up being scratched, meaning that you’d receive a refund on the ticket value. The exception here is multi-race bets — think pick 6, pick 3, etc. Most bookkeepers won’t void your bet based on a single horse being scratched. Instead, they’ll swap your selection from the scratched horse to the favorite.
Most trainers will try to scratch their horse as early as possible to limit the number of disrupted bets, but sometimes a horse gets pulled as late as load-in at the gate. It’s important to keep an eye out for that “SCR” so you can be ready to adjust your horse racing picks as soon as possible.
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