How To Bet On Horse Races

Updated on February 17, 2020

There are horse racing events across the globe nearly every single day of the year, attracting significant audiences either at the race track, through television and radio, or even online through live streaming channels. Horse betting is considered one of the oldest forms of gambling, and it continues to be enjoyed by millions of people each and every year.

Even though it’s regarded as one of the oldest forms of gambling, there are still loads of people who have never placed a horse racing bet. It’s for this very reason that we decided to create a comprehensive guide that will cover every single aspect of this stunning sport and how you can confidently place a bet after reading our guide.

We start our horse betting journey by explaining the bet types with links to dedicated pages on each bet. We also explain how to bet at a teller and online.

Types of horse racing bets

Whether you are a newcomer to the world of horse racing, or a horse betting veteran who wants to brush up on your knowledge when it comes to the plethora of bet types in the industry, you’ve come to the right place.

Everyone should know that you can place a bet on which horse will be the winner of a race. However, did you know that there are tons of other bet types to consider? Most of them will even provide a better payout when compared to the traditional win bet.

Most people might not be aware of this fact, which is exactly why we decided to compile a list of all the horse racing bet types to further expand your betting experience and potentially lead to bigger and better profits in the process.

Below, we included a list of all traditional horse racing bet types, followed by a list of all exotic horse racing bet types. Each bet type also has a detailed summary attached to it to explain how the bet type functions in a horse racing event.

Traditional types of horse racing bets

Traditional horse racing bets, also referred to as straight bets, are considered the most popular bet types in horse racing. They are also regarded as the most straightforward bet types, as each of them are extremely easy to understand, regardless of if you are a beginner or veteran in the sport.

The traditional bet types in horse racing include:

Win betThis is by far the most simplistic bet type in horse racing and doesn’t require a long and complicated explanation for you to understand it. A win bet simply requires you to select a horse from a race that you believe will win the race outright. You will essentially receive a payout if your selected horse finishes in first place, and will lose your bet if your selected horse fails to win the race.

Place betA place bet will require you to select a horse from a single race that you believe will finish in the top two positions. You will receive a payout if your selected horse finishes the race in first or second place. However, you will lose your bet if your selected horse finishes in third or worse. The payouts for place bets are lower when compared to win bets because you have a better chance of winning your bet due to more coverage in the race.

Show betThis bet type is very similar to a place bet. However, instead of covering only two positions like in a place bet, you will essentially be covering three positions with a show bet. This bet will require you to select a horse that you believe will finish in the top three positions of a single race. You are going to receive a payout if your selected horse finishes in first, second or third place. However, you will lose your bet if your selected horse finishes in fourth or worse. A race needs at least eight runners before a show bet becomes available, and it will pay less than a place bet.

Across the board: This bet type basically combines a win bet, place bet and a show bet into a single selection. You will have three bets in one. Therefore, if you select a $2 across the board bet, you will need to pay a total of $6 to cover all three selections — effectively a $2 win bet, a $2 place bet and a $2 show bet. Should your selected horse win the race, you will receive a payout on all three bets. If your selected horse finishes in second place, you will only receive payouts on the place bet and show bet. If your selected horse finishes in third place, you will only receive a payout on the show bet. If your selected horse finishes in fourth or worse, you will lose your entire bet amount.

Exotic horse racing bet types

Exotic bets in horse racing are more complicated and advanced when compared to the traditional bet types we listed above. They are not as straightforward to understand and are more difficult to master. However, exotic bets are immensely popular among horse betting enthusiasts, as they do provide bigger payouts.

The range of exotic bets you can use in horse racing include:

Exacta bet: This exotic bet type will require that you select two horses from a single race to finish in the top two positions. But that’s not all. You will also need to predict in which order your two selected horses will finish before you can receive a payout. This is obviously much more difficult to predict when compared to a win bet, which is why the payout for this exotic bet is so much higher.

Quinella betThis exotic bet type is very similar to the exacta bet type. However, instead of selecting two horses to finish in the top two positions in the correct order as well, you merely need to select two horses that will finish the race in the top two positions. They are allowed to finish in any order as long as they finish in the top two positions. This makes the quinella bet more forgiving compared to the exacta bet, but the payouts will obviously be less.

Trifecta betThis exotic bet type is far more difficult to get right when compared to an exacta bet type, as you will need to select an additional horse to finish in the correct order. With a trifecta bet, you will be required to select three horses to finish in the top three positions in the correct order as well. If one of your selected horses doesn’t finish in the top three positions or one of your selected horses finish in second place as opposed to third place, you will lose your bet.

Superfecta betThis exotic bet type is more difficult to get right than a trifecta and is considered one of the most difficult exotic bets in horse racing. With a superfecta bet, you will be required to select four horses from a single racing event to finish in the top four positions. The four horses you selected need to finish in an exact order, as well. If one of the horses doesn’t finish in the top four positions, or one of your selected horses finishes in second place as opposed to first place, you will lose your bet.

Daily double bet: This exotic bet is more adventurous and exciting than the exotic bets mentioned above, as you will need to predict the winner of two consecutive racing events as opposed to only a single racing event. With a daily double bet, you will need to select a horse to win the first race and select another horse to win the second race in successive order. If one of your selected horses finishes in second place, you will lose your bet.

Pick 3, pick 4, and pick 6: Each of these exotic bets functions in a similar fashion to the daily double bet. However, each of these exotic bets simply requires a higher number of racing events. For instance, the pick 3 exotic bet will require that you select the winning horse from three consecutive racing events. A pick 4 exotic bet will require that you select the winning horse from four consecutive racing events, and a pick 6 exotic bet will require that you select the winning horse from six consecutive racing events.

Other horse racing bets

Apart from traditional horse racing bets and exotic horse racing bets, you will also come across a handful of other bets that you can use when placing a bet online. These include:

  • Specials/prop bets
  • Matchups
  • Lay wagers

Specials/prop bets: Specials and prop bets are horse racing bets that do not have anything to do with the end results of a specific race. Instead, you can place a bet on the jockey who will have the most race wins at a horse racing event, or the trainer who will have the most wins in a season.

Matchups: For a matchup bet, you will see a sports betting site provide odds on two horses in the same race. You will then need to predict which horse will finish ahead of the other horse. You will receive a payout if you selected the correct horse, regardless of where they place in the race. All you need to worry about is your horse finishing the race before the other horse. That’s it.

Lay wagers: When you lay a horse, you are basically betting against it. You will essentially be taking a bet from someone else who is betting on that horse to place or even win. You obviously won’t be able to accomplish this bet type at an online sports betting site, which is where a betting exchange comes into play. Even though it’s easier to select a losing horse as opposed to a winning horse, it is still a difficult bet to make if you don’t know the potential reward compared to the potential risk involved.

How to bet on horse races online

The first, and undeniably most important, step you need to take if you are interested in placing bets online is to locate a reputable and reliable online sports betting site that is licensed by a world-class regulatory body. This will ensure a hassle-free online betting experience, because you’ll only deal with safe and trusted payment methods to transact on your account, and get some of the most competitive odds on all horse racing events. You are also going to get superior customer support, which is likely to be available around the clock to assist you with any query or request you might have.

If you are not 100% sure on the aspects you’ll need to evaluate when it comes to determining whether an online sports betting site is worthy of your time and money, you’ll be pleased to know that we included a list of factors that you need to check before signing up for a new account.

  • Company reputation
  • Race coverage
  • Bonus offers and promotions
  • Customer support quality
  • Banking options
  • License and regulation
  • User interface
  • Speed of withdrawals
  • Betting options

Once you have had a look at each of these factors, and you are satisfied with the online sportsbook as a whole, you can go ahead and register a new account. Once your account is registered, simply add your preferred payment method on the site and make a deposit. Once you have funds available on your account, you are ready to place a bet on a horse racing event.

You will notice that some sports betting sites will differ from others in terms of layout, user-interface, sports section, betting slip, etc. However, it will only take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the site before you get the hang of where everything is situated. You will likely need to make your way to the list of available sports and select “Horse Racing.”

Once you are on the “Horse Racing” section of the site, you will be greeted by upcoming races that are taking place from across the globe. You will probably see upcoming horse racing events from the United States as well as Ireland, United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia and Dubai, to mention but a few. You will also be introduced to a wide variety of bet types once you’ve located a horse racing event that you are interested in.

Once you’ve located a horse racing event, simply select a horse that you favor and select the bet type that you are interested in. This information will then populate on a betting slip, either on the right-hand side or the bottom of the screen, giving you a total amount that you will need to pay to purchase your ticket.

How to bet on horse races at a teller

Whether you are placing a bet next to the race track, or visiting a brick-and-mortar sportsbook in your neighborhood, the process of placing a bet is a bit more simplistic than placing a bet online. Obviously, online betting does have its advantages in terms of comfort and flexibility, but placing a bet next to the track with a teller or at a bookie is far easier than placing a bet online.

Instead of searching for a reputable online sportsbook and going through a list of factors that might affect your online betting experience, you merely need to select a horse that you like on a race card (which you will find at a teller next to the track, or with a bookie in a brick-and-mortar bookmaker).

You are welcome to refer to the information provided in the racing program for the day. It will indicate the win/loss ratio of each horse as well as valuable information on the trainer and jockey. This will allow you to make a more informed decision before you back one of the horses in a race.

Once you’ve settled on a horse, you will need to decide on traditional bets, such as win, place and show, or exotic bets, including trifecta, exacta and superfecta. If you are a newcomer to horse racing, we highly recommend you start your betting experience with traditional bet types. Once you have figured out which bet type you are going to use, make your selection and head to the mutual or teller window to process your bet.

Keep your eye on the MTP (minutes to post) number that will be presented on the tote board. You will be allowed to make a bet up until post time. However, give yourself loads of extra time to avoid missing out on a crucial bet. The teller will require more specific information from you once you’ve settled on a horse and bet type. This includes:

  • The name of the race track
  • The race number
  • Your bet amount
  • The horse number
  • The bet type

Once you’ve given all your information, the teller will accept your bet and print a ticket with all your betting information for the race. You will then proceed to watch the race and confirm the results on the tote board. You will essentially see the order in which the horses finished and the potential winnings for the top three horses based on a $2 bet.

If you have a winning ticket, you will need to wait until the tote board displays “Official.” Thereafter, you can take your winning ticket to the teller to claim your profits.

Privacy Policy