Definition of be at the races (or Australian/NZin the race) in English:

be at the races (or Australian/NZin the race)

phrase

British
informal
  • [usually with negative] Competing with a chance of success:

    ‘they were never quite at the races against Rangers’
    ‘with you dressed up, none of us others will be in the race’
    • ‘As well as skill and luck, players will need fitness and endurance to be in the race for these prizes.’