Horse Racing Betting

Horse Racing Betting

A Guide to Gambling on the Sport of Kings

It has been said that horse racing wouldn’t survive without gambling, and that gambling wouldn’t survive without horse racing, so closely are the two linked. The gambling industry in horse racing is now a multi-billion dollar business, the big races being televised globally.

In the following guide, you’ll see the types of horse races you can gamble on. After that, we include a look at all of the different bets you’ll be able to make on each and every race.


Horse Racing Betting – Types of Race

There are three main types of horse race:

Flat Race – Horses start in stalls and run over a pre-determined distance.

Steeplechase (or National Hunt Racing) – Horses jump over fences, ditches and water normally over longer distances than flat races.

Harness Racing – Horses pull a two-wheel cart, normally at a specified pace (usually a trot).

Within these three different race types, races are split up again based either on ability, experience or age. Here are some examples:

Maiden Races – These are for horses that have yet to win at the track.

Claiming Races – In these races, every horse has a price tag, and potential owners can pay this price for this horse.

Allowance Races – These races will have set conditions and weights to carry with weight allowed off for meeting various other conditions.

Novice Races – A race for a horse that had not won at the start of the season (different to a maiden in the fact that the horse can run if it has won during the current season).

Stakes Races – This is for the top category of horses.  The top level of stakes races are the graded races, with grades one, two and three being the best races there are (grade one includes the Triple Crown and the English classics).


Horse Racing Betting –Win, Place or Show

Most race tracks, especially in the US and Canada, use totalizer betting, where all of the stakes from the bets go into a central pool and this pool is then shared by all of the winning tickets (after the track has taken their cut). These three are popular bets at tracks in the US and Canada.

Win – Simply place a bet on the horse to win.

Place – A bet where the horse has to finish first or second.

Show – The horse has to finish first, second or third.

In many worldwide sportsbooks, the win part of the bet is exactly the same, but the place betting will work differently with an each-way bet being very popular. An each-way bet is effectively two bets, one on the win market, the other on the place market. A sportsbook will state their terms for the each-way bet at the top of the race card. Here is an example:

Each way ¼ 1-2-3

This means that the place part of your each-way bet will receive a quarter of your win odds, and the horse has to finish 1st, 2nd or 3rd. These can change; more runners in the race can pay top four or less can pay just top two.


Horse Racing Betting – Combination Bets

An exacta (also known as a perfecta or straight forecast) is the most popular combination bet. This is where you have to correctly predict the first two in the race in the correct order. A quinella is similar but the horses can finish in the first two in either order.

The trifecta (or trio) is similar to the exacta, but this time you have to pick the first three in the right order. The superfecta is the hardest of all, having to correctly predict the first four.


Horse Race Betting – Parlays

A parlay is a bet you can place over more than one race, with each and every selection needing to win. If the first leg of the bet wins, the entire stake and profit from the first race goes onto the second race, and so on until the final race. Parlays can be just two races up to as many as you choose. These can produce very high payouts for a relatively low stake.

In some parts of the world, parlays are known as doubles, trebles or accumulators (if four or more). A very popular bet involving these is a yankee, where the bettor picks four selections, and has every combination of doubles, trebles and an accumulator, which works out at eleven bets. With this bet, if just two horses win, then the bettor will receive a payout, as opposed to a parlay, where all four need to win.

Another popular bet is the lucky 15, which is exactly the same as the yankee, apart from an added four single bets, meaning that just one winner will see a return.