Horse Racing Betting

Odds, Picks & Betting Tips For Today


How to bet on horse racing

Wagering on horse racing is now simplified more than ever as a result of online wagering platforms and smartphone apps although it is frequently viewed as too convoluted for a beginner to learn the ropes. Despite the relative ease online wagering has created and the plethora of information now available for handicapping, basic bets rather than complicated combinations have always been the mainstay of the industry and are the first step to learning how to win in the Sport of Kings.

Playing it Straight

A single or straight bet allows beginners to easily familiarize themselves with the wagering process and consist of the Win, Place and Show bets. For decades all three forms of betting have a $2 minimum in order to place them, but over the course of the last 10 years these wagers can often be placed for a $1. Details on these wagers are below:

  • Win: All a bettor needs to do to place this wager is bet on a horse or individual horses to win the race. The takeout rate is the sum the track wagered upon removes from the total amount bet on the race in order to cover their overhead costs. Traditionally it is 15-20 percent depending on the facility and that state’s racing regulations. What is left over from the pool is provided to the winning betters. The pool for this bet is also separate from the Place and Show pools. Win odds, unlike those for Place and Show wagers are easily accessible to the bettor by checking out the toteboard or graphics on your screen if using a smartphone or the internet.

Say a horse wins at odds of 29-1, the payoff to the bettor would be $60 to $61.80 due to breakage. This a system tracks utilize to calculate payoff amounts so they can be roundest to the nearest, lowest 20-cent payoff (it is 10-cents in New York) instead of paying in specified amounts.

Odds for a win bet are based on how many people wager on each horse. It’s difficult to determine how tough this wager is for the bettor but it is more difficult than Win or Show wagers. For example, if a bettor wagered on the favorite in every race on a card, they can be expected to cash in one of every three events. The average decreases if the bettor places win bets on horses that have higher odds, however, the payoffs are much greater.

  • Place: When a horse is bet to place it must come in first or second. This makes it easier to win than on a Win bet, but the payoff amounts are generally smaller because the pool is being split into two rather than just one. The bettors that win then divide the pool for the payoff.

Odds and payoffs are not easily accessible to bettors because they are based on which horses run first or second. Despite systems to break down approximate payoffs by breaking down the sum bet on each horse in the pool, beginners should stick with enjoying themselves rather than becoming bogged down in math. That should be left up to the tracks to determine.

  • Show: From the three types of straight wagers, this bet is the easiest for a bettor to collect on as a horse must come in first, second or third. The pool for this wager is split three ways and the dividends are often the lowest. If a bettor wagers on all favorites the return on investment (ROI) may even less than $1 for every $2 wagered. Like Place wagers, odds and payoff amounts are not easily accessed by the public, but can be deduced through math calculations.

Show wagers are a great way for a beginner to get their feet wet, but the payoffs are typically quite low.

Exotic Wagers

These are all bets placed that are not straight wagers and can be quite challenging for a beginner to collect on unless they have some luck. The simplest exotic bet is an Exacta, where a bettor would pick the first and second place horses, the Quinella, where a bettor selects the first two finishers in one race in either order, and Double, where a bettor picks the winning horse in two consecutive races on a card.

One of the best ways to pick an Exacta or Double would be to wheel several horses in different formats for the smallest price which is generally a $1. For instance, a $1 Exacta wheel of horses 4 and 5 in first place over the 1, 2, and 3 horses would cost $6. Also, a $1 Double wheel of the 4 and 5 in the Race 3 with horses 6 and 7 would be $4.

Another way for beginners to learn exotic wagering skills is a Show Parlay. If four people decide to wager together and place $10 a piece on a Show Parlay and then select a horse to place this money upon. They will continue to re-wager they payoffs until they begin to lose or decide they have had enough.

There is a bit of luck involved with wagering in this fashion, but it’s a easy to introduce people to betting without emptying their pockets. It can also make the wager more intriguing, and can contribute enhanced entertainment value for the beginner.

Best horse racing apps


One of the most popular and convenient ways to wager online through TVG which also offers extensive simulcasts of races and independently constructed content geared toward the handicapper.

  • Opening an Account: Opening an account takes mere minutes. You must provide your name, address, phone number and birthdate, then create a password for your account. You will also need to enter the last four digits of your Social Security number.
  • Funding the account: There a several methods to fund your account such as PayPal, TVGBetCash, which is a direct deposit from your bank account., credit or debit cards, TVG prepaid card, MoneyPak, PayNearMe, check or money order and wire transfer.
  • Removing money: Once you have deposited funds in your account using one of above systems, you can generally receive money through the same avenues.
  • Wagering Online: You can wager via through the TVG website or download their app from the App Store. At this time, there is no app for Android, but the website is enhanced for mobile. A full menu of straight and exotic bets is available for bettors. You can also use handicapping tools directly from the website for all races. Due it’s TVGs presence in the horse racing industry, you can view many races streaming live from the website.
  • TVG Promo Code: A bonus bet up to $200 is available on your first bet.
  • Rewards Program: Bettors receive points for each bet, which they can apply towards wager credits.

Bet America

Bet America is an online sportsbook where casino games can also be played. Headquartered in Kentucky as it is now owned by Twin Spires, the website offers many of the same features as TVG and is designed with enhanced live streaming. Bet America offers all the same wagering options as TVG and provides bettors with handicapping tools, such as past performances and race analysis.


Owned and operated by Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., the home of the Kentucky Derby, Twin Spires focuses largely on the many tracks it owns across the U.S. Like it’s counterparts, TVG and Bet America, Twin Spires offers an array of wagering options and includes handicapping analysis, past performances and race replays.

Horse Betting Strategy

Here is the data is provided for each horse in each race to identify them. These are just some of the numerous factors that are analyzed for handicapping and placing wagers.

  • A horse’s name
  • Silks or colors which the jockeys wear when riding
  • The number of the race and the order it is on the card
  • The distance of the race
  • How much weight each horse carries
  • The condition of the race
  • Owner
  • Jockey
  • Trainer
  • An overview on how a horse has been performing

Horses are walked and saddled in the paddock prior to a race. Bettors can witness a horse’s attitude and their fitness by watching them there. They can be identified according to the color of a jockey’s silks and their post position number, as well as race number on the saddle pad. Silks are selected and designed by the owners who often like their horses to perform at particular tracks. Jockey and trainer statistics are also essential when bettors are reviewing which horses they would like to wager on as their records over specific tracks or with certain types of horses are an excellent handicapping resource.  The amount of money which the horses are competing for is also in a horse racing program. The higher the purse the higher the quality of the race.

Importance of past results

The primary goal of horse betting is selecting the horses with the best opportunity to win or finishing first, second, third, fourth or fifth for exotic wagers. A horse’s record will not offer an overview of how each horse raced previously. The data is general and include a record of how a horse raced, and in what type of race it raced in. Handicapping information provides data on a horse’s form and what they are capable of without reviewing each of the races. This data includes dates that indicate a horse’s best and worst performances and is always worth examining when placing a wager.

Listed below are the essential elements for past performances:

  • Races that were performed in that year
  • Races from prior years
  • A horse’s career record
  • Record breakdown based on what surface and distances the horse has performed at
  • Purse money won
  • How many wins a horse has

These segments of horse racing data offers insight on the ability of a horse and how it fits in a specific race.

How has a horse performed previously?

This type of information is essential to successful wagering. Lifetime records for each horse are revealing but many handicappers prefer to review in the records in each race. The data below is provided for each race and is incorporated when selected horses to wager on:

  • Abbreviated name of the track and the race number.
  • The condition on the track: soft, good, firm.
  • Type of course
  • Race time split times
  • Overall race finish time
  • Race conditions
  • Type of race
  • Post position
  • Position behind leader at points of the race
  • Where a horse finished
  • Where the horse finished behind other horses
  • The jockey’s name
  • Weight carried, equipment used or medication used
  • Odds
  • Weight carried by first three horses
  • Insight
  • How many horses are in the field
  • Morning workout times
  • Weather conditions
  • Race name

A quality handicapping system will present the key factors of the form guide for a specific race. The type of race, restrictions, conditions and racetrack are the most essential pieces of data. Past performances are useful, but other elements can impact the conclusion of a race. Astute handicappers, however, often rely more on a horse’s previous form.

Common language used in horse racing can seem foreign to people outside the industry. There is also a tremendous amount of information for each race and horse. The following abbreviations are standard:

Type of race

Handicappers and bettors should review a track dictionary to become familiar with the types of race abbreviations. The most frequently used are:

  • Hcp: Handicap
  • Shp: Starter Handicap
  • Stk: Stake

There are number of resources available on the internet and in print that explain all the abbreviations used in horse racing programs.

Track conditions

Course conditions in a horse racing handicapping tools outline how the weather has affected to the track. Horses prefer different kinds of surfaces and past statistics on similar track conditions are essential when reviewing a horse racing program.  The weather and amount of rain are instrumental in determining the track conditions. Realizing how each horse has performed in the current conditions is a key component to handicapping races. The goal is to select the horses with the best performances in those conditions.

Following below are some of the key course condition abbreviations in handicapping data:

  • ft: fast
  • wf: wet fast
  • sf: soft
  • sy: sloppy
  • my: muddy
  • yl: yielding
  • hd: hard
  • gd: good
  • hv: heavy
  • sl: slow
  • fz: frozen
  • fm: firm

Race conditions

Horses that are 2-years-old can only race in races for their age group. When a horse turns 3, it is eligible for races in their own age group and against older horses. Below are the abbreviations for race conditions in a horse racing program:

  • R: Restricted
  • F: Filly
  • S: State bred
  • 3 up: for horse aged 3 and older

The restrictions are for what type of race it is and what conditions apply to it.

Medications and equipment

Here are the main abbreviations used to denote the most widely used medications and equipment in horse racing programs:

  • L: Lasix
  • B: Bute
  • b: blinkers
  • f: front bandages

Race-day medication and equipment do not play a key role when comparing horses to wager on. It does, however, often come in quite handy. A horse can improve when adding or detracting medication or equipment so that should be noted.

Track information

Here are a list of the tracks currently operating in the U.S. with a brief background on each:

Charles Town Racing-Owned by Hollywood Resorts and Casino, Charles Town Racing resumed racing on May 14 and will continue to race its regularly scheduled season. Located in West Virginia just south Washington, D.C. Charles Town has a post time of 7 p.m. and operates on a Thursday through Sunday schedule.

Charles Town has similar restrictions in place as other racetracks, including no spectators or only essential personnel allowed on the grounds. The track has also closed its receiving barn and only horses that have been in the state are allowed to compete.

Churchill Downs– Located in Louisville, Ky., Churchill downs is the site of the most popular and widely bet upon race in the U.S. in the Kentucky Derby. It is also one of the few racetracks that is owned and operated by a corporation and has two online wagering platforms in Bet America and Twin Spires.

Impacted by the coronavirus, Churchill Downs moved the Kentucky Derby from it’s traditional first Saturday in May to Sept. 5. It is currently operating without spectators and only trainers, grooms and veterinarians are allowed on the premises. There are stringent protocols in place such as daily sanitation and all people entering the facility must have their temperature taken and wear masks. The track is racing on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday schedule with first post at 1 p.m. eastern. The spring meet will last for 26 days and conclude with Saturday (May 23) the best card of the meet with four graded stakes races.

Gulfstream Park- Located in Hallandale Beach, Fla., Gulfstream Park was one of the few facilities that continued to operate during the coronavirus. Live Thoroughbred racing will continue Thursday through Sunday each week through Sept. 27th.

Owned by the Stronach Group, Gulfstream Park’s signature race is the Grade I Florida Derby, which was won by top Kentucky hopeful Tiz the Law in March. This race is also a key Derby prep.

Like other facilities, Gulfstream Park has been operating spectator free, with only people working with the horses allowed on the grounds, with daily testing and the use of the face masks.

Remington Park-Owned by Global Gaming RP, Remington Park is in Oklahoma City, O.K. The track operates on a Thursday through Sunday live racing schedule with a post time of 6 p.m. The current meet concludes on May 30.

Remington Park is also operating under strict protocols due to the coronavirus. Racing will be conducted without fans and only essential personnel are allowed on the grounds after being tested and checked for face masks.

Santa Anita Park-Owned by the Stronach Group who also operates Gulfstream Park in Florida and Laurel Park in Maryland, Santa Anita is located in Arcadia, Calif. Like nearly other facility in the U.S. Santa Anita’s spring meet was postponed and they just opened on May 15. They will have a 21-day meet that concludes on June 21 and race on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday schedule. The highlight of their meet will be the Grade I Santa Anita Derby, which traditionally has served has important prep race for the Kentucky Derby.

Like Churchill Downs, Santa Anita is operating under vigorous measures due to the coronavirus. They also will be racing spectator free with many of the same protocols in place, such as only allowing trainers, grooms, veterinarians and farriers on the grounds after being tested each time they enter. They must also wear face masks.

Tampa Bay Downs-Located in Tampa, Fla., Tampa Bay Downs has instituted stringent protocols to continue racing while many other facilities were closed or their meets postponed. Their signature event is the Tampa Bay Derby which was captured by King Guillermo in February. Their meet was recently extended to June 31 as a result of the coronavirus.

Operating under strict measures due to coronavirus, Tampa Bay Downs races on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday with a 1 p.m. post time.

Will Rogers Downs-Located right outside of Tulsa, OK, Will Rogers Downs is owned by the Cherokee Nation. One of the few tracks allowed to operate during the coronavirus, the facility has a 12 p.m. post time and races on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. It’s signature event is the Sequoyah Stakes.

Like other facilities Will Rogers Downs is operating without spectators and has undertaken significant sanitation measures. Only licensed personnel are allowed on the premises at this time.

Where can I bet on horse racing online?

Even with the advances in technology and with the internet as well as tablets and smartphohnes, it is not legal in every state to wager online. Here are the states where online wagering is legal:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Specifics vary by each state according to their individual laws, but apps and websites typically are available to cover all the bases for bettors to wager on races in the U.S. and around the world.

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