Betting on horses is a difficult territory to break into for budding amateurs.
Whilst it is tempting to bet on the one with the best name, success depends on knowledge of each horse’s previous performance combined with the prior victories of the jockey and trainer’s reputation.
An idea of the different types of horse racing and where to bet is also crucial.
Horse betting exists both online and off line so it is certainly hard for beginners to navigate.
That is why Bet o’clock have decided to clarify the basics.
Types of Racing available
To begin with the most popular and the most common, as its name indicates flat-racing takes place on even terrain.
Due to the lack of hurdles or obstacles on the track, the horses are able to go at their highest speed: Galloping.
Good Example: The Kentucky Derby
Renown in the UK and Ireland, Steeple chase racing is also known as jump racing because of the hurdles the horses need to leap over to complete the challenge.
It requires a great deal of expertise and is highly impressive to watch.
Good Example: Queen’s Cup Steeplechase
This less common form of racing is distinctive because the “Jockey” doesn’t actually ride the horse, instead he is dragged behind it, in a chariot or sulky. Of course, if the horse galloped this would probably result in terrible injuries for the rider so this challenge takes place at a canter.
Good Example: The Hambletonian
This less well known type of racing is characterized by the distance which the horses must run to complete the race. Obviously this is a much less popular form as it is impossible to watch while sitting in a stadium. It is also more difficult to predict odds when the horses are running over such a long period of time.
The terrain is highly varied and challenging for the horses. Most endurance events last upto 3 days.
Good example: The Iron Horse
If you want to try your luck at endurance riding, check out CNN’s list of the greatest treks out there.
These are all the basic terms and phrases needed to understand the track lingo
Blanket Finish: A finish where all the horses are packed so closely together that it would possible to cover them all with a single blanket
Bug: Slang for apprentice jockey
Closer: A horse who leaves the best part to the end. They usually catches up miraculously and overtake in the final stretch of the race
Furlong: Unit of measurement often used in horse racing, 1 furlong is 1/8th of a mile or 200 metres
Futurity: A race for 2 year old horses or juveniles, which they are signed up for when still a foal
Oaks: Race designed for 3 year old Fillies
Ranker Outside: A wild card, a horse who is not expected to win
Wire to wire: In the lead, throughout the race
Different Types of Wagers
Once you have established which type of race you are going to wager on, the next thing to decide is which type of wager you are going to make.
Basically, when betting on horses there are two broad categories: Straight wagers and Exotic wagers.
However each one offers it own sub-types of wagers which can be difficult to get to grips with at first.
The Straight Bet
Despite it’s name, the straight bet is not as straight-forward as it sound; it incorporates 4 individual bets:
- WIN, betting on the horse to finish first
- PLACE, betting on a horse either first or second
- SHOW, betting on a horse to finish either first second or third
- ACROSS THE BOARD, combination of PLACE and SHOW which gives the punter higher odds of winning but less pay out
The Exotic Bet
Like the distinctive taste of papaya, the Exotic bet is filled with sophistication and complexities. Within this type of bet, you are allowed to bet on several horses
- EXACTA/EXACTOR, placing a wager on two horses finishing first and second in a specific order
- QUINELLA, betting on two horses finishing first and second in no particular order
- TRIFECTA/PICK 3, 3 horses finishing first, second and third in a specific order
- SUPERFECTA, 4 horses finishing first, second, third and fourth, in a very specific order
Of course, although there is more money to be won with an exotic bet it is harder to win since there are more variables.
Beginners are advised to stick to the straight bets for their first few wagers before braving the exotic once they have broaden their knowledge of the ability of each horse.
The great thing about horse racing is that the wagers start at $2 so it is possible to make a great quantity of low bets.
How to choose a winning horse
If you are visiting the track in person this will be handed out to you free of charge in most cases.
Information will also be available if you are betting online, most operators provide comprehensive resources.
Once you have the day’s program in hand, here are the key pieces of information to look out for.
Check the Horses Performance
Most programs or websites will indicate the horses previous performance. You will be able to see how they ranked in past races in the contests.
If you can’t find the information readily available on your betting forum of choice, it will be a simple Google search away.
Careful to double check whether their victories were of the same prestige, the same type and on the same terrain.
If a horse won first place for a grade 3 steeple chase, it is hard to tell how they will perform at a grade one flat race.
Check the Odds
Whilst the predictions may be wrong, the odds are a good indication of the horse, jockey and trainer’s previous performance.
If you are unsure about betting for the favorite to win first place, it may be a good idea to place a Quinella on them for a less high-risk bet.
On a basic level, it important to remember that the favorite wins roughly 33% of the time.
Check the horse’s behavior on the day
Like a human being, there will be natural fluctuations in the horse’s performance on the day.
The horses are taken around the track for a warm up before the race starts, at this stage it is likely that some horses many seem more nervous than others, they may refuse to start or surge forward unpredictably. It is highly likely that horses which are exhibiting these types of behaviors will not perform to the maximum of their ability.
Check the trainer’s reputation
A good trainer will usually have several horses running in the same competition. You will therefore be able to verify their horses performance on previous races which have perhaps happened on the same day.
This is often a reliable indicator of performance because many of the variables are similar.
If you notice a winning streak from horses from a particular trainer then you know they are a safe bet.
Check the Jockey’s reputation
Horse racing is one of the rare sports where the animal is revered above the human, you will notice that most people will applaud the victorious horse rather than its rider.
Punters want to find a good middle ground between the performance of the jockey and the horse but ultimately it is the latter’s who will carry the victory.
Betting on horses online
Betting on horses is one of legal forms of online gambling in the US so it is a popular choice for punters. We’ve put together a selection of our 4 favorites sites.
Most of these sites will function through an advanced deposit wagering system which means putting funds into an account before risking that money on a wager.
This is the financing system which is advocated by the US law.
|Operators||Welcome bonus||Wager needed to secure bonus||Safe Online Payment||Other bonus offers||Wagering advice||Special features||Mobile|
|Personalized Wagering, great advice|
|$125||$200 in the first 14 days of opening an account||Active Youtube channel and TV Network|
| ||100% matched upto $300||No stated minimum||Free Live streaming of races|
|$100 sign-up bonus||No stated minimum||Free live video and horse racing replays|
How to bet online
- Visit the operator website on your mobile or computer and fill in your details
- Make your first wager and receive your sign-up bonus shortly after
- Maximize your bonus by making a high first deposit, check the matched bonus limit
- Choose the races which you would like to bet on
- Choose the type of bet which you would like to make
- Choose the horse/horses you would like to place your wager on
- Your winnings will be transferred directly into your membership account if you have won
Now that you have learnt the basics, check out the US horse racing calendar. Don’t miss out on the top races to bet on..