Horse Racing Betting and Odds

Last Updated: April 30, 2024 7:07 pm

Horse Racing betting is one of the oldest sports bets out there. There’s just something about how the gates open at top horse racing events that always draw the eyes of bettors.

One of the fastest and most adrenaline-punching sports out there, horse racing is an all-time classic.

Horse Racing Betting and Odds

One of the reasons nearly all the world tunes into these racing events, such as the Preakness Stake and Kentucky Derby, is how easy they are to bet on.

There are no loopholes or gimmicks here. Races usually last less than two minutes, so anyone can set aside time in their busy life to watch history being made.

If you’re interested in joining the gambling world of horse racing, it’s quite simple and easy.

What is Horse Racing Betting?

Horse racing betting involves placing wagers on the outcomes of horse races.

Bettors can bet on which horse they think will win the race, as well as various other betting types that predict different outcomes.

How Should I Choose Which Horse to Bet on?

Choosing a horse to bet on involves researching past performance, the horse’s condition, the expertise of the jockey, and other factors like track conditions.

Betting guides and race day programs provide detailed information that can help bettors make informed decisions.

Let’s take a look at the many options one bettor may have at the race tracks. 

What are the Common Types of Bets in Horse Racing?

Common types of horse racing bets include:

  • Win: Bet on a horse to win the race.
  • Place: Bet on a horse to finish in a top position (usually first or second).
  • Show: Bet on a horse to finish in one of the top three positions.
  • Exacta: Bet on which horses will finish first and second, in that order.
  • Trifecta: Bet on which horses will finish first, second, and third, in that order.
  • Superfecta: Bet on the first four horses in the exact order.

Bet to Win

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. You’re betting on a single horse to win a selected race. To win this wager, this horse must come in first and only first. 

Bet to Place

Now comes the fun part. Bet to place is a wager that allows you to bet on a horse to finish either 1st or 2nd. If the horse comes in 3rd or worse, the wager is counted as a loss. 

Bet to Show

If you’re not confident in your horse to finish either 1st or 2nd, then maybe this one’s for you. Bet to show allows your horse to finish either 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in the race. The selected horse has to finish in the top three to cash. 


Looking for a big-time win? Exacta is the first of three longshots bets you can place. For this wager, you select two horses that will finish in 1st and 2nd. The exact horses must finish 1st and 2nd for this wager to cash. For example, if you pick horse A to finish in 1st and horse B to finish in 2nd, and the results are horse A in 1st and horse C in 2nd, the wager is counted as a loss. 


Here’s one of the most popular bets on the horse racing market. Trifecta is when you’re betting on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishers. Just like the exacta, the exact horses must finish in your selected order to win. 


A superfecta is simply the dream longshot wager. Millions of bettors try, but only a few are lucky enough to hit it. For this last wager, you’re betting on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place finishers in a race. 

What should I know about handicapping in horse racing?

Handicapping in horse racing is the practice of assigning weights to horses to level the playing field in a race. Factors used in handicapping include a horse’s past performances, weights carried, and the distance of the race. Bettors often use handicapping strategies to inform their betting decisions.

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Horse Racing FAQs

How do horse racing odds work?

Odds in horse racing are typically presented as fractions and indicate the potential return on a bet relative to the stake.
For example, if a horse’s odds are 5/1, you would win $5 for every $1 bet if that horse wins. Odds also reflect the likelihood of each horse winning as estimated by bookmakers.

Can I bet on horse races online?

Yes, online betting on horse races is available and legal in many countries. Many platforms offer the ability to place bets on races from around the world.

Is there live betting in horse racing?

Yes, many sportsbooks offer live betting on horse races, allowing bettors to place bets on races as they are happening. Odds are updated in real time based on how the race unfolds.

How do payouts work in horse racing betting?

Payouts in horse racing are determined by the odds and the amount of money bet on a horse. The more money bet on a horse, the lower the payout will be if that horse wins. Payouts are typically higher for bets that are harder to win, such as trifectas and superfectas.