People all across the globe love nothing better than to watch horses hurtling around the racetrack, nose to nose as they fight for supremacy. However, if you are new to the sport, then it might all seem a bit confusing. That’s why we are here, to help you understand how to bet on horses. In this horse betting guide, we’ll look through all the different bet types, how it works, the different terms you need to know – and how to be in with the best chance of winning so that you can get your horse race betting off to the very best start!

How to Bet on Horse Races

How to Bet on Horse Races

When choosing your horse, it’s simple – you need to decide whether you want to bet on the favorite for less money but more chance of winning or, bet on the underdog for more money but less chance of winning.
Whatever you bet on, even if it’s the favorite, you could still lose. You simply need to decide what your risk tolerance is. The more you are prepared to risk, the more you could end up winning. The risk you take also depends on what type of horse racing bet you make, which we will look at next…

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Types of Horse Racing Bets

As with any type of sports gambling – football, basketball or hockey- there are different bet types available when betting on horses. You can choose which type of bet suits you the most, assess how risky they are, how confident you are and whether the risk is worth the reward. Here are the main types of horse race bets:

Win Bets

This is the most popular bet and does exactly what it says on the tin. You need to predict which horse you think will win the race. You will win only if the horse is first past the post. Obviously, to increase your chance of winning, you can bet on more than one horse, but you will certainly lose at least one or more of your wagers, so you have more to lose.

To Place Bet

This is slightly less risky than a win bet, as you will win if your chosen horse places first or second. You will receive the same payout, whether they finish first or second but the return will be lower to reflect this.

A Show Bet

This is a type of bet that pays out if your horse finishes in the top three. Just as with a place bet, you will be paid out the same whether it finishes first, second or third.

An Across the Board Bet

This is like three bets in one. In essence, you are making a win bet, a place bet and a show bet on one horse. As such, it will cost three times your stake. However, if your horse wins, you will get paid out on all 3 of those bets!

Exacta Horse Bet

To win this, you need to predict which horses will come first and second in the right order. So, if you bet on Horse A to come in first and Horse B to come in second, then you need them to finish in that exact order to win. You could consider making two exacta bets, adding one with Horse B to win and Horse A second to cover both bases and lower the risk.

Exacta Horse Bet

Trifecta Bet

This is the same as an exacta bet, but you need to correctly predict the first three horses in the correct order. Again, the order they finish matters.

Superfecta Bet

The superfecta bet requires the bettor to predict the first four horses in the correct order. This is just for the lucky or the insane!

Hi-5 Bets

As the name suggests, this is betting on the first five horses in the correct order. This is the toughest of all the one-race wagers – and is certainly not for the risk-averse horse punter!

Daily Double

You can make a Daily Double wager by betting on the winners of two consecutive races. The bets would need to be placed before the start of the first race and would cost double your wager.

Pick 3

This is the same as the Daily Double but you are required to pick the winning horse of three consecutive races. Again, this must be placed before the first race and will cost 3x your wager.

Pick 4

This is the same as Daily Double or Pick 3, except you need to predict the winner of four consecutive horse races.

Pick 5

Pick 5 is a popular bet type because there is a low minimum bet required for this given how risky it is. You need to correctly predict the winner of 5 races in a row and you can get a massive payout for a very low stake.

Pick 6

This is considered to be the jackpot game of all horse racing bets. You need to predict the winner of 6 horse races in a row. However, unlike with a pick 5, many jurisdictions have a minimum $2 bet – which makes a total of $12 overall. Win this one though and you really do win the jackpot! Some lucky bettor won over $6 million with a Pick 6 bet!

Horse Racing Betting Glossary

When understanding how to bet on horse racing, you need to know all the terminology:

  • Abandoned: A race meet that has been cancelled. All bets will be fully refundable.
  • Accumulator/Parlay: Multiplier bets placed into one big bet. In order to win, all selections (legs) must win.
  • Across the Board: Type of bet (as mentioned previously)
  • Also Ran: A horse that didn’t place in the top 4
  • Ante-Post: A bet that is placed before the event starts
  • Apprentice: Trainee jockey
  • Arbitrage: Where a specific variation in betting odds allows you to bet on all outcomes and guarantee a small payout.
  • The Barrier Draw: The ballot held before the race to decide where each horse will start.
  • Box bet: All possible combinations of the horse bets are covered.
  • Breeders’ Cup: The end-of-year championship consisting of 8 races with combined purses and prizes totalling around $13 million.
  • Buck: A $100 wager
  • Daily Double: Type of bet – see above
  • Dead Heat: Where 2 or more horses finish first
  • Derby: A stakes race or event only for 3-year-olds
  • Dime Bet: $1000 bet
  • Dog: The underdog in a race
  • Dog Player: Someone who mainly bets on the underdog
  • Drift: When odds get higher or lower
  • Even money bet: A +100 bet that wins $100 for making a $100 wager
  • Exacta bet: Type of bet – see above
  • Exotic: A bet other than a win, place or show bet
  • Exposure: How much money you could lose on the race
  • False Favorite: The horse considered favorite even when there are better runners
  • Favorite: The horse that is considered most likely to win
  • Field: All of the runners in the race
  • Flat Race: Run on a flat track (as opposed to a hurdle race or steeplechase)
  • Form: The previous performance of a horse.
  • Furlong: 220 yards, ⅛ mile or 660 ft
  • Graduate: First-time winner
  • Handicap: A race which has weights assigned to be carried to make it more equal
  • Head: The margin between two horses – one leading another by the length of a head.
  • Hedge: Covering one bet with another bet
  • Juice/Vig: The sportsbook commission
  • Lock: An easy winner
  • Long Odds: Odds of more than +1000
  • Maiden: A horse that has never won
  • Meeting: A number of races held on the same day
  • Nose: The smallest advantage by which a horse can win
  • Odds: The price given by a bookmaker on an event happening
  • Outlay: A bettor’s stake
  • Outsider: A horse that is unlikely to win
  • Parlay: See Accumulator
  • Pick 3 (4, 5 or 6): Bet type – see above.
  • Place: To finish in the top 1, 2, 3 (or 4) positions
  • The price: The odds
  • Racecard: The day’s racing schedule
  • Runner: A horse participating in the race
  • Short Price: Low odds
  • Steeplechase: A race with hurdles and ditches
  • Track Condition: The condition of a racetrack’s surface: Fast or slow, muddy, good, frozen etc
  • Track Record: The fastest time on a course
  • Triple Crown: The three main US races: The Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.
  • Value: Getting good odds for a bet

The Best Horse Racing Betting Tips: Horse Racing Betting Strategy

So, what are the best horse racing betting tips we can give you? Well, no matter what horses are racing and what races there are, there are certain horse betting strategies that apply to all.

Horse Betting Trends

Betting on horses is very much about knowing the records of the trainers, jockeys and horses in the race. You need to look at:

  • The weight range of the horse that usually wins the race
  • The most common age of winners
  • The form of the horses
  • The favorite courses of the riders and trainers

Knowing this information may help you pick a winner. Understanding the importance of weight in a race and how age can affect its performance is essential. Go into the race understanding as many trends as you can and this may help you to pick out a potential winner.

Weather Forecast and Track Conditions

As horse racing is an outdoor sport, knowing the weather conditions and potential track conditions is essential. Rain can mean muddy conditions, a long period of sun can mean hard and dry conditions. Different horses prefer different tracks and weather conditions.

  • Muddy Conditions: Can slow the horses down
  • Dry/Hard Conditions: Little give which can hurt the joints.

Use Different Sportsbooks

You can now find horse betting at all different sportsbooks. Register at a few and you will access more bet types, be able to choose the best odds and you will have access to more horse racing bonuses and promotions! For example, one sportsbook might have excellent odds for the favorite horse, but the rest are poorly priced. If you shop around, you will get the best value odds for your bet.

Bankroll Management

You really need to make sure you manage your bankroll. Have a set budget for your bets and don’t go over it. You don’t need to bet on every race. Simply choose how much you want to bet per week or month and look for the best value bets. The best horse race bettors are selective. Check out our bankroll guide to understand more about how this can help your horse racing betting.

Bet With Your Head

Lots of people like to bet on the horse because they like its name. This isn’t going to be a winning strategy in the long term. Also, you should not just bet on the horse because it is the favorite. Do your research, look at the trends and the form of jockey and horse – and bet with your head, not your heart.

How to Bet on Horses and Win

So, now you know a little bit more about how to bet on horses online and are wanting to get started. Well, here are the simple steps you need to take to put this knowledge to the test and start winning big!

  1. Choose your preferred horse betting sportsbook: Look at our top sportsbooks and find the best horse racing site for you.
  2. Create a new account: Click on register, enter your information and verify your account.
  3. Make your deposit: Pick your preferred banking option and make your first deposit.
  4. Claim your welcome bonus: This can get you off to a very valuable horse betting journey. Simply look at our list of the best bonuses out there.
  5. Look for your preferred wager and enter your stake
  6. Check everything through and when you are sure, place that bet!