A 1st Time Bettor’s Guide to Horse Racing


Headed to the horse races? While betting on horses all the time would not be recommended as a sound personal finance strategy, it can be quite a fun endeavor that enhances the experience of going to the races. If you have never bet on horse racing, it may seem a bit confusing at first. Rest assured, betting on horse races is quite simple once you know the basics, and it takes beginners no time to learn the protocol and process of betting on a race.

Some common questions that you may have regarding betting on a race include:

How do I place a basic bet?

The simplest bet you can make in racing is a Win wager or Win bet. Pick the horse you think will cross the finish line first, and you win. It is as simple as that. If you want to add another wager, try Place, which pays when your chosen horse is first or second across the finish line. Finally, a winning wager for Show occurs when the horse you choose is the first, second, or third across the line.

What other bets are there?

Once you have a grasp of Win, Place, and Show, try some other bets to increase your chances of winning. The Daily Double involves picking the winning horse of two consecutive races, and Quinella is a bet where you win when you pick the horse winning first or second in two consecutive races, in any order. Exacta is the same as a Quinella bet except that your horses have to win the exact spot, first or second, in both consecutive races. The Trifecta is a bet made where you pick the three horses that will cross the finish line first, second, and third, in the exact order that you placed.

How much do you bet?

The amount that you choose to wager is up to you though the minimum stake for a Win bet is $2. Some tracks have experimented with a $1 or even $.50 option, but it has yet to become popular. The minimum wagers should be posted at the betting window when you go to place your wagers at the track, but can also be done online through a variety of legal horse race betting providers.

What are the odds?

So, you probably are wondering what the odds are for the horses that you choose to win.  The odds are determined by the betting public, specifically the win pool.  When more people believe that the horse will win the race, the odds are lower. The horse that has the overall best odds of victory is also called the favorite.

What are betting angles?

There is another aspect to betting on the horses known as ‘angles.’ It is common knowledge that when gambling there are losses to go along with the wins. When analyzing a race, information may pop out from the past performances that hints that the 6-1 long shot just might be able to beat the 2-1 favorite.  Horses, like people, have good days and bad days. The betting angles delve into past performance, weather and track conditions, and other factors in order to determine which horse might have a better chance at victory than what the odds say.

A day at the race track can be an exhilarating and exciting experience- especially if you win. Use these basic tips to begin betting on the races, and begin to develop your own style and way of betting on your chosen horses. Good luck!