How to Bet on Horse Racing?

How to Bet on Horse Racing?

Published Date · March 29, 2022 · Last Updated · April 20, 2022 ·Read Time · 5 mins

Horse racing is one of the oldest sports that people have enjoyed for centuries and in a simpler form since ancient times. It is also hard to name another sport with a closer relationship with betting than horse racing. Fast forward to the present, and placing a wager has become easier than ever, with horse race betting apps and online horse racing betting sites becoming a popular alternative to a physical day at the races. Betting on horse racing, also known as the ‘Sport of Kings,’ can be intimidating to newcomers -on the surface, there are plenty of rules, terminologies, and considerations unique to the sport. While experts will better understand which unlikely odds to bet on, horse racing also has basic wagers that can allow even an experienced better to enjoy the experience and make a profit with a bit of luck. Read on for our beginner-friendly introduction, where we will cover some of the how’s, where’s, and why’s of horse race betting!

Placing a Bet

The procedure required to make a horse racing bet is relatively simple. To place a bet in the real world, you must declare the racetrack’s name and which race you are wagering on. Then you will have to declare how much you are wagering, specify the kind of wager and finally indicate your chosen horse or horses’ number. Just make sure you check your ticket before leaving the betting window! Horse racing bets online typically follow the same or similar procedures, albeit in digital form. However, we suggest that you create and verify an account before any races to avoid processing delays ruining any race day bets being ruined.

Bet Types

What newcomers to horse racing might find most intimidating is the number of complex-sounding wager types and options that go with them. Fortunately, there are only two overarching bet categories that makeup horse racing bets: straight wagers and exotic wagers. Below we will take a deeper look at the overarching categories wagers to fall into and quickly summarize some of the most popular bet types.

Straight Bets

Straight bets are more straightforward (pun slightly intended) and therefore a popular choice among newcomers or bettors who want to enjoy the races without too much deep thought, research, or reliance on luck and superstitions. There are 3 types of straight bets, which are won by correctly wagering on a horse’s final position in a race. Betting on a 1st pace finish is a ‘Win’ bet while betting on a top 2 finish is known as a ‘Place’ bet. Finally, betting on a top 3 finish is known as a ‘Show’ bet. These bets have higher to lower odds, respectively-this is because you will still win a Show bet with a first-place finish, while the reverse is not true. Perhaps the smartest bet in horse racing for a beginner is the across-the-board bet, a combination of the win, place, and show bets. Just be aware that betting on short-priced horses can result in lower profits (or even a loss) -something you might expect from a successful across-the-board bet!

Exotic Bets

Exotic bets, by contrast, tend to be more complicated and require considerably more expertise or luck to win. There are also many more variables considered in exotic bets, which results in higher horse racing betting odds. Making an exotic bet will usually involve terminology that a newcomer would be unfamiliar with. Some of the more beginner-friendly exotic bets include Exacta, Double, and Show Parlay. An Exacta bet is where you correctly choose the first and second-placed horses in the correct order. A Double bet is where you successfully choose the winning horse in consecutive races. Finally, a Show Parlay bet is a bet often enjoyed as a group where each person bets on a horse to ‘Show’ on. If any of the participating group members’ horse wins, the winnings are reinvested in the next race until the group members all lose or decides to stop. This method reduces the risk to any individual and can make the races incredibly exciting -and maybe a few hundred dollars to enjoy with your friends!

There are many other exotic bets, such as the ‘trifecta bet,’ and numerous horse racing betting terms to learn such as ‘boxing,’ ‘partial’ bets, ‘wheels and keys.’ Many of these bets and terms availability will vary. Betting options offered by race tracks or companies can also differ, so be sure to do your research before you place a bet you’re unfamiliar with.


How Do You Pick a Horse?

There are many different ways bettors pick potential winning horses. Some will swear by gut feeling, superstitions, or by picking the horse with the funniest name. Others will pick their favorite horse by how the horse looks on the day. Finally, some do considerable research into potentially hundreds of factors that can affect a horse’s performance, including evaluating the horse, jockeys, and course. Some key variables often examined include ‘Pedigree,’ ‘Distance,’ ‘Going,’ ‘Connections,’ ‘Course Form,’ and Handicap Mark. Ultimately, you should pick a horse however you like. On the one hand, if you’re betting at the races in person or online for fun, there’s little point in trying to divine the future by reading into every possible variable. On the other, if you’re trying to test your expertise and luck on bets with higher odds, brushing up on any statistics will certainly improve your chances of winning. So while there is certainly skill involved in horse race betting, there is also a considerable amount of luck needed too. Just make sure you bet responsibly and whatever bet you place; try to enjoy the races!

Popular Horse Racing Events

In the United States, horse racing has existed in some form or another for almost 400 years. However, the horse racing of today is a huge and booming industry both online and at the races themselves. While nearly countless horse races take place annually, there are 4 major races to be aware of in the United States. Three of these races are collectively known as the Tripple Crown Series and include the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. The final race is the Breeder’s Cup which typically is held at the end of the year. These races and many others take place at numerous venues across the United States, such as the prestigious venues of Churchill Downs Racetrack and the Saratoga Race Course. Outside of the US, there are many other popular horse races that enthusiasts should be aware of, such as the Royal Ascot in the UK or the Grand National.

Just remember, even if you can’t physically attend the races, there are many safe and convenient options to bet on horse racing legally. You can do so from the comfort of your own home by checking out some of the best horse racing betting sites, courtesy of our top sportsbooks!


Chris Singarajah

Content Writer