How To Bet On Horse Racing: Most Popular Bets Explained

The ancient hobby of betting on horse racing has continued to be popular and profitable despite the boom in other types of sports betting. Perhaps you too are wondering if you should try your hand at it. Well, you certainly have strong reasons to do so. Unless you are watching on television, horse racing offers an entertaining experience that contains rich history and tradition. Unlike attending football or basketball matches where the food alone for your family can run into hundreds of dollars, admission to racetracks is usually free and sometimes you can carry your own food and drinks. The minimum bet on each horse can be as low as $2. Furthermore, the internet has revolutionized how to bet on horse racing, offering more options than ever before. Below is an outline of the two main horse racing wagers:

1. Straight Wagers


This is the cheapest and simplest horse racing bet. You just choose one horse to come in first, second or third. Normally, the minimum bet on tracks is only $2. This type of betting is highly recommended for beginners. The straight wager is more like an umbrella of several separate bets, which include:

Straight win bet: This is the most basic horseracing wager. You bet that your horse will come in first. If it manages to finish in the first place, you get to collect. To calculate your returns, you simply multiply the odds with your stake.

Place only bet: When you wager on a horse to “place’’, you are wagering that he will come in first or second place. You get to collect if the horse finishes in the top two positions. Obviously, payout for this bet is less than that of straight bets because your odds are better.

Show bet: Perhaps you are not feeling very lucky or you know your horse cannot be first or second. That’s where show bets come in. These bets allow you to bet on your horse finishing in the 1-3 positions. Of course, you have high chances of winning with a show bet but the payout is substantially lower than in the first two.

Across the board: This bet allows you to wager on a horse to win, place and show. It is also known as a combo straight wager since it holds three bets in one. These bets are more expensive than other forms because they offer possible high profits.

2. Exotic Wagers


Simply put, exotic wagers allow you to bet on more than one horse in a single bet, offering you the chance to increase your profit potential significantly. Nevertheless, these bets are considerably harder to win, require plenty of experience in handicapping horses, and can get very expensive if you are not cautious. After you have tried several straight bets, feel free to try one of several forms of exotic wagers listed below:

Exacta: This bet lets you bet on two horses to come in first and second in a precise order. You can only collect if the exact horses you picked came in first and second. This is one of the most popular bets amongst skilled horserace bettors because the payoffs are usually very highly rewarding. You can also box your bet, meaning your horses can come in either of the two positions, and you still get to collect. However, keep in mind that boxing an exacta costs double the price of a regular exacta.

Quinella: A Quinella bet allows you to bet two horses to come in first and second with no particular order. Provided your horses finish in the top two positions, you win. A Quinella might sound similar to a box exacta but there are subtle differences the main one being the cost. On the other hand, the payout for a box exacta is significantly higher than that of a Quinella.

Trifecta: This bet gives you a chance to bet on three horses to finish in the first, second and third position in a precise order. You can only collect if the horses you picked to come in first, second and third do so. You can also opt to box your Trifecta, meaning you still get to win if the horses finish in the top three positions in any order. Due to the many combinations, boxing a Trifecta will increase your bet’s cost considerably.

Superfecta: In this form of exotic bet, you get to pick four horses that will come in first, second, third and fourth in a precise order. Similar to exactas and trifectas, you are be able to box your Superfecta to increase your odds, at an additional cost of course. The minimum you can bet is 10 cents, making it very appealing to people of all walks of life.

Other Horse Racing Wagers


If you plan to put your selections from several races into doubles or even trebles, you have a broad range of different bets available. A standard double, accumulator or treble is a single stake requiring all your horses to win. Your odds are then multiplied through the bets leading to the potential for massive profits. The odds are stacked against bettors in these bets so, bookmakers promote them heavily. There are also a number of bets that involve all possible combinations for a fixed number of selections. Some of these include Yankee (four horses), Canadian (five horses), and Heinz (six horses). In these wagers, you can back every single, double or upwards to a fixed stake.

A relatively new form of horse race betting is Lay bet. Simply put, this is where you act as a bookie on the betting exchanges and receive bets on a horse. For instance, you may be certain that a particular horse cannot win the race, and be happy to offer a price. The price you offer will be taken if someone else wants to prove you wrong. With this form of betting, you at times risk losing more than merely your original stake. Hence, you need to be completely aware of your probable liabilities. If you are fresh on the betting exchanges, it is probably best to familiarize yourself with how the system functions before diving into it. There are dozens of useful books and sites to explain the different aspects of horserace betting in detail.

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