Horse Racing Betting Tips and Strategies

Horse racing is the third most popular sport to bet on in America, which is pretty impressive considering that it comes in 26th regarding the number of people who watch it. The truth is that horse racing is not valued for the thrill of the sport itself, the main reason that people watch it is because they want to bet on it.

Almost everyone who watches a horse race places a wager on it. But only a few of those people will actually win.

Some people use small bets as a form of social entertainment, so they don’t really care about the outcome. But for those who are serious about wanting to win, there are several ways that you can use strategy to increase your overall payouts.

If you already have a basic understanding of betting on horse races, but you are looking to take your game to the next level, this article will cover some of the essential techniques that you will want to use to become a successful bettor.

I will talk about how to research before the race, how to shop the odds, how to use different kinds of bets to your advantage, and how to deliberately expand the number of runs that you are betting on.

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There is a lot of detail here, so you might want to bookmark this site so that you can refer back to it as you practice these tips, or so you can take it one suggestion at a time before moving onto the next one.

Please Note:
Even professional gamblers have losses regularly. The difference between a successful and unsuccessful bettor is not how many wins or losses that they have, but how much their overall payout is affected by each gain and loss.

The following strategies will not guarantee that you win every time, but they will increase your chances of getting a higher overall payout. No matter what kind of wagers you are placing, it is crucial to always gamble responsibly.

Gambling is exciting because it is a risk, but you should only take that risk if you are prepared to handle the possibility of a loss.

Always make sure that you have paid your rent, bought groceries, and taken care of yourself and family financially before you think about placing a bet.

Use a budget to know how much you can potentially lose without risking your financial security. For more information on gambling responsibly visit our webpage by clicking the link below.

Tip #1- Do Your Homework!

Thousands of people bet millions of dollars on horse races each year, but a tiny percentage of those people do any research before selecting which horse to bet on. Even just a cursory glance at the racing program before you place your bet can significantly raise your chances of winning.

Racing forms:
Also known as form guides, will give you all of the information you need to know about a race and the horses competing. It won’t tell you which horse to bet on, but it will at least give you the information that you need to make an informed decision. I will tell you everything you need to know about reading a form guide.

It will be helpful for you to refer back to the following sample as we discuss each part of the racing form.

First, you should get some background on the race itself. The top of the racing form will list the time and location of the race along with the distance of the course. Underneath that it will explain the requirements to enter the competition and the race’s classification.

Please Note:
There is one crucial piece of information that is not listed on the form guide, and that is the type of track (dirt, turf, etc…)

You can do a quick internet search to find out the kind of track available at each location. If you bet on multiple races, you will quickly learn which places have dirt tracks, which ones have turf, and which ones have both.

The rest of the form guide will give you information about each of the horses competing in that race. The horses are usually organized by the number that they will wear during the race. To the right of that number, there might be a number in parentheses that indicates the horse’s draw. The draw is their starting position in the stalls. Some places have advantages and disadvantages so pay attention to that information when you select the horse to bet on. Next to the numbers will be the jockey’s shirt color. Some people like to gamble on a horse whose rider is wearing their favorite color. That is perfectly acceptable, but the color is not an indicator of who will win so mostly this is only useful for when you are watching the race.

The next column on the form guide will list the horse’s rank in their past few races. Sometimes these are listed underneath the horse’s number instead of in the next column.  Usually, but not always, nine horses compete in each competition so that the rankings will be recorded from first to ninth place. Some races, like the Kentucky Derby, have more than nine horses.

In that case:
Only the first nine ranks will be listed on the form or a 0 will be listed instead. If there is a letter instead of a number it usually means that the horse was disqualified for some reason. Note the number of races that the horse has been in recently. If there are only a few races listed, you may want to do some extra research to find out why. Knowing which horses are consistently in the top three is a good indicator of who is most likely to win the race.

However, it is important to remember that each race is different. Some tracks are shorter than others; some runs may have a horse wearing blinkers while others may not. It is a good idea to find out more information about the past performances listed on the racing form so that you can notice correlations.

For Example:
You might begin to see that a particular horse wins more often when it is on a dirt track instead of turf. Pay attention to those details so that you can recognize any patterns that might influence your selection on a particular race.

The next column will have information about each specific horse, including its name, gender, color, and its lineage. If the horse is from overseas, you will see an abbreviation of its country of origin in brackets. The color and gender will be listed as an abbreviation in one or two lowercase letters. For example, “c” stands for colt, while “ch” is for chestnut.

Next, to the horse’s name, you will see some numbers and letters. The number refers to how long it has been since its last race. The capitalized letters are a code used to describe information about the horse’s record. For example, if you see the letter CD next to the horse’s name, that horse has won races at this course and distance before. The lowercase letters explain equipment that the horse will be using for this race, such as blinkers or visors. Sometimes, the equipment information is listed in the next column. That column will contain the horse’s age and how much weight it will be carrying during the race, registered in stones and pounds, where a stone equals fourteen pounds. The fifth column names the jockey and the trainer for the horse. I recommend doing a quick search on the riders and trainers of horses that you might bet on. The trainer’s record of wins will be a good indication of the possibility of placing in the top three.

The final column on the racing form varies in different locations. Most of the time, this column will have the official rating, a simple way to tell how likely a horse is to win. This official rating usually comes from the racing organization that is hosting the event. Other times, the last column will include other statistics.

I know that all of this information can be overwhelming.
Form guides have a ton of information, but as you can see, some of that information is more important than the rest.I recommend starting with just one aspect of the form guide. Familiarize yourself with everything you need to know from the horse information section.

Once you have learned how to use that to select winners, begin expanding to the past performances, official ratings, and finally the course information. Take it one step at a time, and before you know it, you will be astounded at how much you have learned. That’s why your teachers always said to do your homework!

Tip #2- Make Different Kinds of Bets

Up until now, I have focused on the most common type of wager for horse racing, the win bet, where you just choose which horse you think will win and hope that you are right.

However, there are so many more bets available besides that one.

If you really want to take your horse race betting to the next level, learn how to incorporate different types of bets and use them strategically.

The first thing that you need to know about the different types of bets is that they can often be different around the world.

Horse racing is one of the most popular sports in almost every country, and it has been around for a very long time.

Over time, each region has developed its own system of wagers and rules. For this article, I am going to focus on bets that are commonly used in the United States.

However, many times different countries use the same kinds of wagers with a different name, so whenever possible I will make a note of that. The win bet that we already mentioned is a universal wager.

Betting Systems

Before we can get into all of the different kinds of the bets, you need to know about the systems used to calculate the payouts for each type. There are three primary betting systems used in horse racing. The method used will vary around the world and by track.

Please Note:
Fixed odds betting is one of the most common systems across different sports. When you place a bet using fixed odds, you stake a wager with a bookmaker, who has established odds for that bet. Your payout is calculated on the amount you staked multiplied times the odds. Odds are expressed as fractions, decimals, or moneyline odds depending on the country.

Sometimes, bookmakers will use a starting price which means that the odds are not known until the start of the race after the bets are in.

Here is an example of a fixed odd bet:
Let’s say that you bet that Bolt d’Oro will win the 2018 Kentucky Derby at 5 to 1 odds with an original stake of $10. If Bolt d’Oro wins, you will $50, plus get back your original $10 for a total payout of $60.

It’s pretty easy to understand fixed odds betting once you get started. One of the benefits of fixed-odds is that you can almost always calculate your potential payout before you place the bet. The second betting system which is particularly popular with horse races is pari-mutuel or tote betting.

Instead of calculating your payout using odds:
They are calculated based on the total pool of all stakes made for that bet. The more people that place a wager, the larger the pool is, and the higher the payout will be, but it is divided based on how significant your original stake was.

It is impossible to calculate your potential payout because you don’t know how large the pool was or how many people placed winning bets.The newest betting system is called exchange betting, and the use of technology means that it is growing in popularity.

Instead of betting against a bookmaker:
You bet against another person. Essentially, you choose a horse, set your own odds, and offer a stake amount, and you hope that another person bets the opposite of your selection. Exchange betting allows people to make lay bets against a horse.

It is often easier to choose a horse that won’t win instead of one that will, but bookmakers don’t usually offer these types of bets. In some cases, you will not be able to choose your betting system.

Please Note:
Some racetracks only use pari-mutuel wagers, while others offer just fixed odds. If you are gambling online instead of in-person, you can usually find a website that will provide what you are looking for.

Understanding the difference in your possible payouts can help you deliberately use different methods for different bets to get the highest payout. Incorporating different ways of betting is equally as useful as including various types of wagers, as long as you are smart about it.

Place, Show, and Across the Board Bets

When it comes to horse racing, the most common bet after win bets are the place bet. Place bets are standard in pretty much every country, but they are organized a little bit different in some countries than others. In the United States, you choose one horse, and you will win if that horse comes in either first or second place.

It is basically a way of increasing your chances to win because you have two opportunities to be right instead of one. In other countries, the place bet is pretty similar, except that they allow you to cover more ranks depending on the number of horses in the race. For example, you may be able to bet that your horse will come in any of the top three or four places depending on the details of that race.

Place bets are great for times when you think that your horse has a pretty good chance of winning but you’re not sure, because it allows you to hedge your bet a little.
In the United States, you can still bet up to the third place, but we usually call those show bets instead of place bets.

Across the board:
Bets are used in the U.S. as a way to combine win, place and show stakes into one bet. The idea is that you bet an equal dollar amount on each wager. If your horse comes in first place, you get a payout on the total amount. If it places in second, you get two-thirds of the payout, and third place gets you one-third.

Bets are another excellent way to make a fortune when you are confident that a horse will do well, but you aren’t sure if it will win first place. You can still get a payout even if the horse comes in second or third place. The rest of the world calls these each way bets, but they usually just combine win and place bets since other countries don’t tend to use show bets.

Multiple Horse Bets

Another fun way to incorporate various bets is to bet on multiple horses in the same race. Depending on which one of the following stakes you choose, it may be harder to win, but the payouts are usually higher.

If you have done your homework and are confident about your selections, these are an excellent way to get a bigger bang for your buck.
There are two ways to bet on two horses at a time, the exacta bets and the quinella. To place an exacta bet, you choose the horses that you think will win a first and second place. To win, you have to get both horses and their order right. Exactas are sometimes called dual forecast, perfecta, or exactor. A quinella bet is also guessing the top two places, but you don’t have to get the order right to win, so quinellas are easier than exactas. Quinellas also go by other names like reverse exactas, reverse forecasts or reverse perfectas. Based on the everyday use of the word trifecta, you can probably guess what a trifecta bet is; a bet on which three horses will win the top three spots in the race. A superfecta takes it one step further to allow you to wager on the top four spots in a run. These are some of the most challenging bets to win because you have to get the order right, but they have massive payouts when you do win.

I suggest that you use these bets sparingly and only when you are super confident in your choices. Another alternative is to make a reverse trifecta that doesn’t require you to guess the correct order.

Another fun type of wager for multiples is called a match-up bet.
In a match-up, the bookmaker chooses a pair of horses, and you simply choose which horse will finish ahead of the other one. With match-up bets, it doesn’t matter who wins the race overall because you only have to decide which horse will beat one other one.

These are fun, easy ways to mix up your bets without having to do a lot of extra work, especially if you aren’t sure who the overall winner will be.

Multiple Race Bets

Instead of betting on multiple horses, you can also bet on numerous races. These bets are appealing to many gamblers because they don’t cost much, but they can have huge payouts, but the higher the payout, the higher the risk. These are incredibly difficult to get right because you are placing bets on multiple variables.

For the most part:
All of the multiple race bets work the same way. You choose who you think will win first place in consecutive races at the same track. If you are selecting the winner in two runs, it is called a daily double. You can also choose winners for three, four and six races in bets called pick-3, pick-4 or pick-6. In the United Kingdom, pick-6 bets are called scoop six wagers.

Another way to bet on multiple races, or numerous horses and various races is to place an accumulator or parlay bet. These are less common in the U.S., depending on the betting system used but they are available.

Please Note:
There are virtually endless possibilities for parlays because you are placing as many bets as you want into one combination. Some of the most common accumulators are super Yankees, where you put 26 bets on five horses, or Heinz of 57 total wagers on six horses, or goliaths with a total of 247 separate bets on eight horses.

Obviously, these are harder to win because you have to get all of your selections correct or you will lose it all. I would suggest getting used to each bet before you attempt an accumulator.

Exacta Betting

Exacta betting is one of the most popular forms of horse race betting available today. This means picking the first two finishers in a race in exactly the right order.

These can be difficult bets to pick correctly, yet offer bettors massive payouts. Generally speaking, exacta bets are available for major races. That includes the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes.

These types of wagers are easy to make. A minimum bet of $1 is typically required for these wagers. Some tracks and online horse racing sites set a $2 minimum on exacta horse race bets.

Placing exacta bets is very easy:
Simply pick the two horses that you believe will come first and second in the correct order. From there, all you can do is sit back and hope for the best.

Head over to our exacta betting tips page to learn more about one of the most exciting types of horse race betting in 2022.

Trifecta Betting

Trifecta betting takes things to a whole new level. This type of horse race wager requires bettors to pick the first, second, and third-place horse in the correct order.

It’s similar to exacta betting, yet is far more difficult to pick correctly.

Nowadays, the majority of online horse race betting sites offer trifecta wagers. These are popular amongst hardcore racing fans thanks to the huge payouts they provide.

Please Note:
The minimum wager for trifecta bets tends to be either $0.50 or $1. This is a lower requirement, as these wagers are far more difficult to hit correctly. Even smaller bets will often payout larger than exacta wagers. There are many examples of bettors earning huge payouts with trifecta bets.

Correct $2 bets can often result in thousands of dollars. The trick is utilizing expert horse race betting strategies to make the most logical bets possible. Check out our trifecta betting tips page to learn more about these types of bets.

Tip #3- Shop the Odds

Shopping the odds is a pretty simple way to increase your overall payout, and it applies to pretty much all bets, not just horse races. However, it doesn’t work on pari-mutuel betting because there is no way to control the size of the pool. But if you are using fixed odds, you might as well get the best value for your money.

Once you have chosen the horse or horses that you will bet on and select the type of bet you want to place, you can begin to shop the odds. Check with a variety of online horse race betting sites, as well as the on-course bookmaker, to find out the odds for a specific bet. Then just go with whichever option gives you the highest chance of winning the most.

Shopping the odds might seem like it doesn’t make that big of a difference at first. You may only make a few extra bucks on each bet. But if you are betting on a regular basis, those extra few dollars will add up quickly. It is worth taking an extra few minutes to do a quick search, but it is not worth obsessively searching every possible website.

Instead of comparing sites for hours:
I recommend searching 3-5 reputable sites, in addition to the on-course bookmaker. Feel free to check out our favorite sites such as BetOnline. This website provides its members with a massive variety of horse races taking place around the world. That includes each of the Triple Crown events. Bovada is another very popular option for online horse race betting. It features a very modern design and excellent promotions. Many of our expert horse racing betting tips focus on races with odds provided by Bovada.

After checking those sites a few times for a few different races, you will begin to notice a pattern of which sites usually offer the best odds. You can create your own system of using 2-3 sites for most bets. You should also consider the bonuses that each site will provide.

If one site has odds that will earn an extra $5, but another site has a $15 bonus, go with the one with the higher reward!

Almost every online sportsbook will offer welcome gifts for your first time using that site. But some of them will also offer reload bonuses for your subsequent bets, or other special offers. They are making money every time you lose, so rewards are an easy way to get some of that money back.

Tip #4 Bet on Multiple Races, but Not Every One

This strategy comes down to some pretty simple probability, the more times that you place a wager, the more chances you have to win. And if you bet on multiple races, you are already a much smarter gambler than most of the population. Statistically, if you look at the total amount spent on horse race gambling in a single year, approximately 70% of that total is paid during the Kentucky Derby.

So Many Races

The Derby is the most popular race in America, but it certainly isn’t the only one. In fact, it is the first race of the Triple Crown series. Even if you just bet on each of the tracks in the Triple Crown, you would still have two more chances to win.

For those of you who don’t know:
The Triple Crown is made up of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes races. Only 12 horses in the history of American horse racing have ever won all three races. Another chance to bet on multiple races is to bet on the races leading up to the derby. 35 races take place around the world. The fastest four horses in each of those races earn points, and the twenty horses with the most points by the end get to go to the Kentucky Derby. That is an easy way to bet 35 different times before you bet on the biggest race of the year and each of those bets will help you to be familiar with the horses that will compete in the derby.

We at The Sports Geek provide in-depth horse race betting tips and picks for various races taking place throughout the year. Here, you will learn more about each of these races while gaining insight into some of the betting favorites and intriguing underdogs.

Different Kinds of Races

It is always good to branch out and try new things because the more that you do, the more you will learn. Horse racing is no different. The best way to broaden your gambling horizons on horse races is to bet on different types of horse races.

Flat racing is the type of competition that this blog has focused on up to this point because it is the most popular.

Flat racing is where thoroughbred horses run on a flat track for one to three miles. Dirt tracks are used most often in the United States, but most other countries prefer turf.

If you want to start betting on races other than flat tracks, the National Hunt is an excellent place to start.

Often referred to as jump racing or steeplechasing, the National Hunt gives horses obstacles that they have to jump over on their way to the finish line. These obstacles might be simple hurdles, or they might be a combination of fences, trenches, and water.

Please Note:
Arabian horses tend to dominate the next kind of horse race, endurance racing. These are long-distance races usually covering 50-100 miles. Some of them even take multiple days. Endurance races aren’t held on traditional tracks but traditionally held on a trail that is designated by the racing organization. The path can include any terrain, but 90% of it has to be off-road.

Any natural obstacles like ditches or water are marked on the trail. Although it is a fascinating sport, very few people have a long enough attention span to pay attention to such a long race, so this is one of the least favorite types of horse races. However, you don’t need to watch the whole thing to place a bet on the winner and potentially earn some extra cash.

Another exciting racing variety is harness racing. Horses pull their jockey in a sulky, which is a two-wheeled cart. Basically, it is the modern form of ancient chariot races. These races are less focused on speed and more centered on horses trotting a specific pace for an extended time. Horses can be punished for speeding up to a gallop by being forced to slow down and let the competition pass.

The shortest type of horse racing is called quarter horse racing, in which horses race for a quarter mile or less. Running is a good analogy for the various types of horse races. Flat racing is the same as a 5k run, endurance racing is a marathon, and quarter horse races are the 100-meter dash. The All-American Futurity is the most popular quarter-horse race in America.

A Simple Warning

Clearly, there are hundreds of horse races that you could potentially bet on. While betting on more races increases your probability of wins, don’t try to place a bet on every single one. Betting on every horse race will quickly take the fun out of the experience and devastate your bankroll.

My suggestion is to choose a few different races at a time.

If you have only ever bet on the Kentucky Derby, add in the rest of the Triple Crown this year, and maybe a couple of the pre-derby races for next year. If harness racing is inspiring your inner-Spartan, gamble on a harness race or two. Add a few different bets on a few different tracks over time, and you will increase your odds of winning without going overboard.

Tip #5- Manage Your Bankroll

Manage your bankroll! Make a budget! Control your cash! I cannot emphasize the importance of bankroll management enough. It is something that every bettor needs to learn, regardless of what they are gambling on.

To manage your bankroll:
You must first have a bankroll. Don’t just use your checking account and hope that money will magically show up in it later. Before you begin betting, check your financial situation. Make sure that you have set aside enough money for your rent, your groceries, your bills, and your coffee habit. Once you know how much money you will have leftover, consider how much of that you want to save, and how much of it you are willing to risk. The amount that you are willing to risk is your bankroll. Putting it into a different account or taking it out as cash will increase the likelihood that you won’t spend more than that. Bookmakers or online sites take advantage of people who lack self-control by making it all too easy to get more cash from the ATM or a credit card or an easy digital transfer. If you start out with a limited cash supply, you will be less likely to overspend. But don’t stop there!

The next step to bankroll management is to decide how much you are willing to pay for each stake. If you choose ahead of time how much you will place on each bet, you will be able to resist the temptation to bet higher amounts reactively.

In general, each stake should be a small percentage of your bankroll.

When I say the small percentage, I mean no more than 3%. Keeping each stake down will allow you to make as many bets as you want without running out of money.

Please Note:
Using percentages instead of dollar amounts means that you can bet higher values when you are winning and lower numbers when you are losing, without ever risking your entire bankroll. Here’s an example to help you understand the math.

Let’s say that your bankroll is a total of $1,000. $10 is 1% of your bankroll, and $30 is 3%. So you can bet any amount between $10-$30 on each bet. Even if you are combining multiple stakes into one parlay, you would still only wager $30 on the one parlay bet. The most that you can lose is $30.

If you continued with this system for a month or so, you would have experienced a few losses and a few wins.

For now, we will be optimistic and assume that you have had more wins than losses. Now you can either cash out your winnings, or you can add them to your bankroll, or you can do a little of both.

For this example:
We will say that you increased your bankroll by $350 and cashed out the rest. Your new stake limit is $40 because 30% of $1,350 is $40. Therefore, you can adjust your bets to between $13-$40.

If you hit a losing streak, because everyone has them every once in a while, you would merely decrease your bankroll amount and make smaller bets. That way you won’t go chasing the next win and end up risking it all on one or two wagers.

The reason that you give yourself a range of 1-3% is so that you can adjust your stakes based on your confidence level. You bet the full 3% stake on the bets that you are most confident of, and the ones that you are a little unsure of use the 1%.

Of course, you can use any number in between. That 3% limit keeps you from getting caught up in the moment and betting emotionally. Gambling is not fun when you are losing all of your money, so protect yourself by managing your bankroll.

Horse racing is one of the best types of sports betting because there are so many options!

The competition itself may not be all that exciting but wagering on it is. Millions of people bet on horse races each year, but very few of them take it seriously enough to win a significant payout, especially when they only bet on one track.

Hopefully, this article has taught you a few simple strategies that you can use to take your bets to the next level.

Some of these tips may seem overwhelming at first, but if you take them one step at a time, you will eventually be able to incorporate all of them successfully. Good luck on your next bets!