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Horse Racing

Harness Racing

Greyhound Racing (Dogs)

Jai Alai

Information about betting at more than 50 US horse tracks.

Information about betting at more than 25 dog tracks.

Information about betting at more than 25 harness tracks.

Information on Jai Alai betting action from the fronton.

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Beginners' guide to betting on Horse Racing

Why bet on horses?

Horseracing is one of the most exciting sports to bet on. Although many people just like to bet on horses based on the name of the horse or the colors the jockey is wearing, those who really get into horse racing know that there are hundreds of different factors that add to the challenge of handicapping a race. Assessing all these different factors make betting on the horses a real challenge.

Better value betting

Betting on horse racing is better value because you are betting against other bettors. If you can handicap the horses better than the general public, you should have a big edge over them and have lots of value bets. Some of the most successful professional gamblers in the world only bet on horse racing because they know that with a little bit of hard work you can win big.

Types Of Races

Stakes - These races offer the largest purse money and generally attract the highest quality horses.

Handicap - The Racing Secretary assigns a weight to each horse in order to equalize the winning chances of all the runners. The highweight is usually considered the best horse in the race. The assigned weight includes the weight of the jockey and any additional lead pads that may need to be added to the saddle to fulfill the weight assignment.

Allowance - A non-claiming race usually designed for lightly-raced or above average horses.

Claiming - The most common of all races. Each horse is entered at a specific price and may be purchased, or “claimed” by any licensed owner. The claiming price serves to balance the competition within that particular race. A horse valued at $25,000 isn’t likely to run in a $5,000 claiming race as it will probably be claimed for far less than it’s value. A $5,000 horse isn’t likely to run against $25,000 claimers as it would be overmatched or out-classed.

Maiden - Races for horses which have never won. Maiden Special Weight races lure the best of the non-winners with greater purses than Maiden Claiming races.

How Odds Work

Do you know how to read the toteboard? You would be surprised how many people don't understand it at all.

The most basic information there are the win odds quoted on each horse. Those don't tell you what the horse will pay, but the amount of profit you will get and the amount you have to bet to get it. 6-5 means you will get $6 profit for every $5 wagered. 20-1 means you get $20 profit for every $1 wagered (i.e. bet $2 and get $42 back).

Since most tracks have a $2 minimum bet, the toteboard odds are rounded off, so 2-1 odds on the toteboard may actually be 1.9-1 or 2.2-1. Payoffs use the actual odds and are rounded down to the nearest nickle or dime depending on the rules at that track.

The Race

Pace - One of the oldest expressions in racing is, “pace makes the race.” The expression is actually a reality and a very simple one to explain. The rate of speed of the front-runners (the pace) in the first half of the race has a direct effect on the second half of the race. A fast pace usually tires the speed horses and helps the late-runners catch the pacesetters; but a slow pace allows a speed horse to conserve energy for the run to the wire.

Speed Horses - The type of horse that prefers to move directly to the front after breaking from the gate. They get the early advantage but may not run well if they are part of an intense pace, or don’t make the lead.

Stalkers - Are usually rated just off the pace by their jockey and are very versatile. They can be on, or near the lead if the pace is slow, or they can be lengths behind if the pace is fast.

Late-Runners - Perhaps the most exciting to watch, but they must rely on a fast or genuine pace. This type of horse is uncomfortable on the lead and prefers to settle into stride while dropping back. They can make a dramatic rush from the back and catch tiring speed horses, or they may not make any impression at all if the leaders gain an easy lead without a contested pace.

Post Position - The stall in the starting gate from where the horse will start. A horse which draws an outside post will be at a disadvantage if the jockey does not move the horse near the rail after the start to save ground on the turns. Generally, a speed horse benefits from an inside post. An unfavorable post position may compromise a jockey’s riding tactics to win.

Track Condition - The racing surface is extremely important. The ideal track condition for most horses is a dry or “fast” track. Rain will change the track condition depending on the intensity of precipitation. A “sloppy” track is one that has received a downpour and still has puddles of water. A track is “muddy” if the water has drained off the top but is still rain-soaked. A “good” track is one that has dried from being muddy but the race times suggest it hasn’t dried completely. A track is said to be “off” if it is anything other than fast. Some horses run better over an off track due to their bloodlines or the type of horseshoe they are wearing.

Distance - Like the variety of athletes and races in the sport of Track & Field, in horse racing there are also sprinters and long-distance runners. Some horses perform best at sprint distances, which are races at seven furlongs or less. Others have more stamina and do their best in route races, which are races at one mile or longer. Most tracks have the circumference of one mile. One furlong equals one-eighth of a mile, or 220 yards