In horse racing parlance, a maiden is a horse – regardless of its age or sex – that has yet to win a race in its selected discipline. Thus, it follows, naturally, that a maiden race is a race in which none of the participants have won a race in their selected discipline. Maiden races are run on the Flat and under National Hunt Rules, so the situation is complicated, somewhat, by horses that progress from one discipline to another, as many do, throughout their careers. A horse that has won a Flat race, or a National Hunt Flat race, but not a hurdle race, is still eligible for a ‘maiden hurdle’ by virtue of never having won a race over obstacles, and so on.
Traditionally, a ‘stakes race’ was any horse race in which some, or all, of the prize money was contributed by the owners of the horses involved. However, nowadays, all owners contribute to prize money through entry fees – calculated as a percentage of the total prize money added to stakes – so, more often than not, the term ‘stakes race’ is used to describe a Listed or Pattern race. Listed and Pattern races are the most prestigious, and valuable, types of horse races, contested by the best horses, who carry the same weight, subject to certain conditions, such as age and gender.
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) also uses the term ‘conditions stakes race’ to describe a flat race that is below Listed or Pattern status, but is not a handicap, classified stakes, maiden, selling or claiming race.