Introduction to Betting on Horses

Horse race wagering is the same at all tracks and off-track betting locations. However, understanding which bets to make and how to make them is the key to feeling more comfortable and thus making smart wagers when at the track or online.

There are two primary types of bets that can be made on horse races. These include:

  • Straight bets
  • Exotic bets

Straight bets are the most popular type of wager and account for most of the money bet. In most cases, this type of wager is made in increments of $2.00. The four straight bets that can be made include:

  • Win
  • Place
  • Show
  • Across-the-board

With the win bet, you collect if your selected horse places first. To collect on the place bet, your horse must acquire first or second place. To collect on the show bet, your horse must place first, second or third.

Finally, the across-the-board wager is when you bet the win, place and show. You combine the three onto one ticket so a bet of $2.00 will cost you $6.00. If you win, you collect the winnings for all three bets. If your horse places in second you collect the winnings for place and show. If in third place, you collect for show only.

The four types of exotic bets include:

  • Exacta
  • Quinella
  • Trifecta
  • The Box

With the exacta wager you choose two horses to come in first and second place in the same race. The box covers all possible ways to win so those who bet the exacta also bet the box. The quinella is like the exacta where you select two horses to place first and second with the difference being the order does not matter. The trifecta is a wager that requires selecting three horses to finish in the exact order.

Finally, the box gives you a much better chance of winning. Although it requires placing multiple bets and thus more money, your winning percentage significantly improves. For instance, if you bet $2.00 on the exacta and box them, your horses can place in any order and you still win.

Betting on horse races can be an exciting way to spend money as long as it is done responsibly. Learning the different bets and which ones are the best is the key to an improved comfort level and thus a more fun experience.

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