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A colt is a young male horse that can still produce offspring at stud because the neutering process has not taken place. In racing a colt is a male horse under the age of four.
When a colt is neutered it is known as a gelding. The procedure is sometimes carried out to concentrate the mind of a horse whose natural instinct is to breed with fillies.
The Classics are only open to colts and fillies.
There are five English Classics but colts are only eligible for three of them, while fillies can take part in all five. The 2,000 Guineas and Derby are mainly contested by colts and the Classic generation consists of horses aged three.
Fillies can run in those two Classics but they can also run in the Oaks and 1,000 Guineas, which are confined to their sex. Colts and fillies can run in the final Classic of the season, the St Leger. In other major races colts have to give weight to fillies.
There is also a weight for age allowance which means that three-year-olds carry less weight than older horses. Geldings can run in Group races other than the Classics but they do not get a weight allowance from colts.
Weight allowances mean the best horse does not always win championship races but it is the best weighted horse that prevails and that could be a colt or filly and three-year-old or older horse.
In theory colts are stronger than fillies but the weight allowance may negate the difference. which makes such races interesting from a betting point of view.