Figuring out how to bet on horses can be tricky at first. This particular sport is more complicated than others with more variables and potential outcomes to consider. In order to understand how horse racing betting works, some helpful hints are needed to give you a leg up. That is what this page is all about. Just think of this as a how to horse racing betting guide that includes the following:
- Key basics on this sport and gambling
- Details of how to bet on horse racing effectively
- Why keeping up with horse racing news matters
- A brief overview of horse racing betting strategies
How To – Horse Racing Betting in the US
This is how horse racing works. In case you have never seen it or bet on the sport before, racehorses are bred to do just that – race! Anywhere between two and 40 horses depending on the conditions and maximum field for entries can run. Horse racing happens all over the world but it is particularly popular in English-speaking countries such as the USA, the UK, South Africa, New Zealand, Ireland, and Australia. Other regions where there has been historic British influence, such as the Middle East and India, engage with horse racing too.
The horse that passes the winning post first after a certain distance has been covered wins the race. There are circumstances where horses can be disqualified, for example, if they tested positive for a prohibited substance or caused interference with other horses that prevented such rivals from winning. Horse racing takes place on dirt, turf or artificial surfaces depending on the time of year and location. Not all races are open and may be restricted by age, experience, or gender of the horses. Now that you understand a little more about the sport, let’s crack on with our how to horse racing betting guide.
The basics of how to bet on horse racing successfully
You will find the betting market relating to a horse race is very instructive. The shorter the odds for horses, then the more fancied they are to win. Not all betting favorites win races, though.
The market at horse racing bookmakers is not perfect and part of learning how to bet on horses is identifying opportunities such as these. A false favorite may in your opinion be worth taking on, but you need to equip yourself with plenty of knowledge about the runners beforehand to know this. Betting traders will feed data that includes the following into statistical models to make their prices:
- Current form
- Previous performances at the track and over the race distance
- Going conditions
- Size of field
- Trainer form
- Age of racehorses
- Jockey form
- Any weight-for-age received, penalties applied or other allowances
- Handicap rating if applicable
- Market interest from other bettors
You need to do the same. Our guide to how horse racing works cannot emphasize that enough. These are all considerations you should factor in before deciding who to bet on. You can always take an expert view with betting tips as a guide, but there is no substitute for knowing all the form yourself. This allows you to pick out horses from the field. Without doing that, you are just selecting something at random – perhaps because you like the name or have heard of the trainer or jockey on board. Blind faith like this is not always rewarded. That is not how to bet on horses Knowledge really is power when it comes to betting on horse racing.
Popular horse racing betting types
Once you have identified a horse or horses of interest, then it’s a matter of finding the right bet to place. Here are some of the common wagers placed by American bettors:
- Win – keeping things simple, you back a horse to finish first in a race.
- Place – for a horse to finish first or second in a race.
- Show – for a horse to finish first, second or third in a race.
- Each way – two bets in one on the same horse with half your total stake on for a straight win and the rest on a horse finishing in a place.
- Across the board – three bets in one with a third of your total stake for a straight win, another third on the horse to place and the final third to show.
- Exacta – where you bet on two horses in the same race, one to finish first and the other second in a set order.
- Quinella – like an exacta, but you bet on the horse to finish first and second in any order.
- Trifecta – where you bet on three horses in the same race, one to finish first, another second and the other third in a set order.
- Double – a bet on two horses in different races to win their respective events.
- Triple – a bet on three horses in different races to win their respective events.
- Acca – a bet containing multiple horses to win different races where odds accumulate from leg to leg
- Pick 6 – a special wager where you must find the winner of six consecutive races at the same track on the same day.
There are other exotic bet types besides these, but you have to decide which of the wagers from the above suits the horses you are backing.
How-to horse racing betting – your next steps
Whether you like to keep things simple when gambling, or have a more detailed plan in mind, this is how to bet on horse racing – be smart. Information is your friend, even though it can also complicate things. Ignorance is not bliss when you are after winners. There is also the question of timing.
When should you bet on a horse to win a race? If it’s a major, high-profile American horse racing event like the Kentucky Derby, then there will be futures odds (sometimes called ante-post) available some months beforehand. There are pros and cons to long-term gambling of this nature, however. You are not guaranteed a run for your money, so the odds you receive could be greater. Here, you are essentially gambling on the horse making it into, qualifying and/or being entered into the race.
It can be wiser to wait until the field is known before placing wagers. However, the downside here is that prices will usually be shorter. Once final declarations happen, most sportsbooks provide non-runner money-back guarantees so you don’t miss out.
There may even be value in you heading to a betting exchange and laying a horse to lose rather than backing something to win the race. Maybe while you have been keeping up to date with the sport, you have seen something in horses’ previous performances that you don’t like. This is an angle that could be well worthwhile exploring, but remember exchange betting is not like fixed-odds gambling.
Why horse racing news matters
No guide of how to bet on horses would be complete without keeping your eyes open for the latest racing news. Maybe a trainer isn’t happy with how their star horse is working at home and vets have been called in. Alternatively, connections of a racehorse might be bullish about its future prospects and are looking to step it up in class and caliber of opposition.
Part of how horse racing betting works is in reaction to news and results. Futures markets on big races like those taking place at the Breeders’ Cup are entirely built around certain horses demonstrating their credentials while others fall by the wayside. It’s all integral to the sport.
Oddsmakers should not be offering you a price on horses that haven’t been or are no longer entered in a race once these are publishing. That is definitely not how to bet on horse racing at all. To avoid falling into a trap like that, the only way is to keep yourself up to date with all the happenings in the sport.
Some racehorses are talented and versatile enough to give themselves options going forward. They represent a nice problem for trainers and bettors alike. It may be best for you to wait until a target is confirmed by the latest horse racing news, rather than gamble on where you think connections will go next.
How horse racing strategy can help you
Our how-to horse racing betting guide is ready to sum up now. Knowing the basics is essential. In fact, the more knowledge you can get, the better. It may also be worth trying out horse racing betting strategies that can be applied to various situations.
The question of how to bet on horses is closely linked to the approach you as a bettor take. There are times when it is better to hedge your bets rather than lump everything on one horse in a race with a big field. On other occasions, a smart play can be to find saver bets each way so you at least get your money back if the horse runs to place but doesn’t win.
How to bet on horse racing in play, we hear you ask? There’s a strategy for that, as well as executing winning multiples like the Pick 6 bet offered at racetracks across America and beyond. Any how to horse racing betting guide worthy of the name signs off with this advice: find a betting system that works for you and gamble responsibly within your budget.