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What is “black type” in horse racing?

Black type is a shorthand reference for a subset of stakes races – the highest level contests in horse racing – deemed of particular importance.

Many – but not all – are graded stakes races, as selected by the American Graded Stakes Committee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA).

The term is derived from the presentation in auction catalogs pioneered by the Fasig-Tipton auction company in 1952 in which the names of horses that won or placed in those important stakes races were presented in bold type as an aid to buyers and breeders. The practice has evolved so that now the names of horses that won such a race are presented on their page in the auction catalog in bold-face upper-case, while upper and lower case is used to designate horses that placed or showed in such a race.

Other types of races that can earn a horse black type include “listed races,” stakes races that have not achieved graded status and other added money races.