Horse Racing 101

Horse Racing 101

By Ian Palmer

The sport of horse racing has been around for hundreds of years and is one of the most popular across the globe, especially with bettors. It’s believed that more than $100 billion is wagered on horse racing each year. There are three basic types of this equestrian sport which are harness racing, steeple chasing and flat racing.

The most basic of these is flat racing since it consists of just the horses and jockeys. In harness racing, the horses have a sulky attached to them and they pull it during competition. The sulky is basically a small, light cart which holds the driver and is somewhat similar to the ancient sport of chariot racing. When it comes to steeple chasing we see the animals jump over barriers during the race.

There are different types of and lengths of tracks used in horse racing and these can vary from country to country. Some of the most popular styles of racing include Arabian, endurance, quarter horse, standard bred, and thoroughbred with the thoroughbreds generally being the most popular. These horses usually race from anywhere between five and 12 furlongs, which is approximately a distance between .63 miles and 1.5 miles.

North America is believed to be the home of the first racetrack in the mid-1600s and it’s been an organized sport since 1868. The most well-known horse races in North America make up the Triple Crown, which consists of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes. At most racetracks you can make wagers on specific horses with pari-mutuel betting. In this type of wagering the gamblers’ money is pooled together. It’s then proportionally shared out between all of the winners. In some areas of the world the most-popular type of betting is the fixed-odds method.

There are several types of bets in horse racing with the most popular of them being win, place, show, exactor, trifecta, superfecta, and box. Before laying your money down though, you’re going to need a racing form and a program, which can be bought at the track. Of course, these days you don’t need to go to the track to make wagers though as they can be done online and at off-track betting sites. You’ll still need a form though if making wagers online and these can be found at various internet sites.

The program will provide important information regarding the races, such as data on the horses, the jockey, the type of track and length, and the odds. If you’re at the track and want to get a close look at the horses you can find them in the paddock, which is where they’re saddled before racing. The horses are walked around and you can get a good look at them to see if they’re loose, relaxed, and ready to race.

Pari Mutuel Betting System

After checking out the racing form and taking a look at the horses it’s now time to place a wager. Remember, in horse racing you’re not betting against the house. You’re competing against other bettors in the pari-mutuel betting system. A separate pool of money is put aside for each type of bet and if you win you get to share the pool. The exact amount of winnings will depend on how many other bettors are sharing in the pool.

When making a wager simply let the clerk know which race and track you’re betting on and how much the bet is. In addition, you’ll need to let them know the type of wager, such as ‘win’ and which horse you’re backing. The clerk needs to know the track the wager is for since most racetracks broadcast races from other venues. You can also make wagers at self-automated mutuels at most tracks. These are basically touch-screen mechanisms which accept all types of bets and they accept cash, money vouchers, and winning tickets as forms of payment. The machines give out cash vouchers as change and they can also be bought at teller windows.

Straight Bets

When it comes to the actual wager, many people go with straight bets. This is where you’re betting on a specific horse to win, place, or show. Win means to come in first while place means it comes in first or second, and show means the horse finishes first, second, or third. You’ll need to lay down at least two dollars for a straight bet at the track, but some online sites have a minimum of just a dollar. An across the board bet means you’re betting win, place or show on the same horse.

Another popular type of betting is known as exotic wagering. Some of these include exacta, trifecta, superfecta, daily double.


With the exacta you’ll cash in if you can predict the first and second place horses in order.


The trifecta means you have predicted the first, second, and third place finishers in order.


The superfecta is when you can predict the first four horses to cross the finish line.

Daily Double

The daily double is when you choose the winner of two straight horse races and these are generally offered for the first two and last two races of the day.

Pick 3 and Pick 4 Wagers

You can also try your luck at pick 3 and pick 4 wagers. This is when you predict the winner of three or four consecutive races.

Head to Head Betting

Some racetracks will offer head to head betting. In this type of wager there will be two designated horses to bet on head to head and you simply need to wager on which one crosses the finish line before the other.

To keep track of all the races at the venue you can check out the tote board. This provides the odds for each horse and how much has been wagered on it to win, place and show and pool totals. The board also shares other information such as minutes to post, the race number, the condition of the track, the post time, and the results etc.

Some of the most common types of horse races include a derby, distaff, handicap, maiden, marathon, oaks, route, and sprint.  A derby is a race for three-year old horses while a distaff is an event for female horses. A handicap is typically a stakes competition in which the horses carry a certain amount of weight and a maiden is a race for horses that have yet to win a race. A marathon is at least 1 and 1/4 mile in length and oaks are races for three-year old fillies. A route is a race of at least a mile in length and a sprint is shorter than a mile.

So now you might ask, how a typical winning bet pay?  Here is a breakdown of pay-offs for $2 win bets:

Horse Racing Odds and Pay-Offs

  • 1-5 $2.40
  • 2-5 $2.80
  • 1-2 $3.00
  • 3-5 $3.20
  • 4-5 $3.60
  • 1-1 $4.00
  • 6-5 $4.40
  • 7-5 $4.80
  • 3-2 $5.00
  • 8-5 $5.20
  • 9-5 $5.60
  • 2-1 $6.00
  • 5-2 $7.00
  • 3-1 $8.00
  • 7-2 $9.00
  • 4-1 $10.00
  • 9-2 $11.00
  • 5-1 $12.00
  • 6-1 $14.00
  • 7-1 $16.00
  • 8-1 $18.00
  • 9-1 $20.00
  • 10-1 $22.00
  • 15-1 $32.00
  • 20-1 $42.00
  • 30-1 $62.00
  • 50-1 $102.00


Article Name
Horse Racing 101 - eBetting101
The sport of horse racing has been around for hundreds of years and it’s believed that more than $100 billion is wagered on horse racing each year.
horse racing

About author

No comments