Horse racing is one of the time-honored traditions of American sports
betting. There may be nothing I love more in sports than the announcer
calling the stretch run. It is a huge adrenaline rush, and almost everyone
in attendance is betting, so the excitement at the track is unparalleled.
But for those that have never bet on a horse race, the process can seem
daunting. But once you know the basics, it’s not that difficult.
You pick a horse, place a bet, and watch them race. It’s that simple. If
you are a bettor that has not gotten caught up in the excitement of the
Triple Crown races, the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont Stakes and the
Breeders Cup – the majors of horse racing – then you have not only missed
out on the most exciting sporting events around but also the opportunity to
take some money from the sportsbooks and race tracks.
Horse racing can seem like a complicated sport, and it could be very tough
for a beginner to walk up to a racebook/sportsbook and place a bet.
Nowadays, all global sportsbooks and most US online sportsbooks offer horse
racing lines, so getting in on the action is pretty easy. But if you are a
beginning bettor, horse racing could read like a foreign language. For
those bettors that are new to the sport of horse racing, or those that just
need a refresher on the basics, here is a quick beginner’s guide to
wagering on the horses.
Types of Bets – Straight Wagers
Horse racing wagers are generally separated into two categories: Straight
wager and Exotic wagers. Straight wagers are bets on a single horse, while
exotic wagers are bets placed on multiple horses in a single race to finish
in a certain order. Straight wagers are the most common types of bets but
pay out at lower rates than exotic wagers, which are
similar to parlays in sports betting
: a win bet is a wager where you bet on a horse to win the entire race.
And, of course, if the horse wins, you will be paid out in relation the
corresponding odds that the horse was listed at before the race.
(Example) $2 to win on the 4 Horse. If the 4 Horse wins, you have a
: a place bet requires your horse to finish in either first or second place
in order for your wager to in.
(Example) $2 to place on the 6 Horse. If the 6 Horse comes in first or
second, you have a cashable ticket.
: a show bet requires your horse to finish in either first, second, or
third place in order for your wager to win.
(Example) $2 to show on the 1 Horse. If the 1 Horse comes in first, second,
or third you have a cashable ticket.
Across the board
: an across the board bet is a wager that combines all three straight
wagers – Win, Place, Show. If your horse wins, you win all three bets. If
your horse places second, you only win two bets. And, of course, if your
horse places third, you only win one bet.
(Example) $2 W/P/S on the 4 Horse. The ticket will cost $6 because you’re
making three $2 bets. If your horse comes in first, you get the win, place,
and show money. If your horse finishes second, you get place and show
money. If your horse comes in third, you just get the show money.
Types of Bets – Exotic Wagers
An Exacta bet
requires you to pick the exact order of the first- and second-place
finishers in a single race. If the horses you pick finish in the opposite
order, you do not win your wager.
(Example) $2 Exacta on horses 3 and 5. You can only collect if horse 3
comes in first and horse 5 comes in second.
(Example) $2 Exacta Box with horses 3 and 5. The ticket will cost $4
because horse 3 and 5 can come in either order.
(Example) $2 Exacta – Key the 3 Horse with the 5 and 7 horse. It will look
like this $2 Exacta 3/5,7. This ticket will cost $4 and you need the 3
horse to win and either 5 or 7 to come in second.
: requires you to pick the top-two finishers of a race. However, unlike the
exacta, they can finish in any order.
(Example) $2 quinella on horses 3 and 5. You can collect if horse 3 comes
in first or second and horse 5 comes in the opposite.
A Trifecta bet
requires you to pick the top-three finishers of the same race in the exact
(Example) $1 Trifecta on horses 3,5 and 7. You can only collect if horse 3
comes in first, horse 5 comes in second, and horse 7 comes in third.
(Example) $1 Trifecta Box with horses 3,5 and 7. The ticket will cost $6
because horses 3,5 and 7 can come in either order.
(Example) $1 Trifecta – Key the 3 Horse with the 5 and 7 horse with 5,6,7
horses. It will look like this $1 Trifecta 3/5,7/5,6,7. This ticket will
cost $4 and you need the 3 horse to win and either 5 or 7 to come in second
and 5,6,7 horse to come in third.
: is exactly the same as the previous wagers, except that it requires you
to pick the top-four finishers of the race in the exact order, of course.
Daily Double, Pick 3, Pick 4
exotic horse racing wagers
are multi-race bets that require you to pick the winners of two through six
separate races. The gambler decides the number of winners that he wishes to
wager on. And while any of these wagers is difficult to win, a Pick 6 will
payout much more than a Pick 3 or Daily Double.
(Example) $2 Daily Double Races 1 and 2 on horses 3 and 5. The ticket will
cost $2 and you need the 3 horse to win Race 1 and the 5 horse to win Race
(Example) $2 Daily Double Races 1 and 2 on horses 3 with 1,5. It will look
like this $2 Daily Double 3/1,5. The ticket will cost $4 and you need the 3
horse to win Race 1 and the 1 or 5 horse to win Race 2.
Now that you know a little more about horse racing and how to actually
wager on the sport, you might as well jump right in and try to find a
profitable situation to bet on during the next Kentucky Derby, Breeders Cup
or next horse race on your daily schedule. Figuring out what to wager is
the easy part. Actually trying to handicap a horse… well that a whole other
Good luck, and remember don’t bet what you don’t have.
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