What is Black Type?

In horse racing circles, the term ‘black type’ is used to describe the way in which the name of a horse, or the names of horses in its family, is printed in a thoroughbred auction catalogue. An auction catalogue page is essentially an advertisement for a horse offered for sale, but space on the page is limited. Thus, to accentuate the positive aspects of the pedigree, any horse that has won a Listed or Pattern race has its name printed in uppercase, bold-faced letters. By the same token, any horse that has been placed in a Listed or Pattern race has its name printed in upper- and lowercase, bold-faced letters. Thus, potential buyers can see, at a glance, the accomplishments of a horse and its immediate family.

The term ‘black type’ has also slipped into horse racing parlance in the adjectival sense, such that offspring might be described, say, as out of black-type dams or siblings to black-type horses. Again, this simply means that the horses in question won a Listed or Pattern race or were, at least, placed in such a race. Note that black type does not, in itself, differentiate between Group 1, Group 2, Group 3 and Listed races; further descriptors are required to indicate the level, or quality, of the race in question.