What Does the Expression “Won Hands Down” Mean and Where Did the Phrase Come From?

To win hands down has nothing to do with placing a winning hand of cards face down.

Instead, the expression comes from the earliest days of horse racing.

If a horse had proven its superiority and was approaching the finish line well ahead of the pack, the jockey would release the reins, giving the animal free reign to the finish.

He therefore would win the race “hands down”, which also means he won the race without question.