How to bet on Horses

Horse racing takes the country by storm specifically every time that one of the three Triple Crown races comes around. The Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes are the three big time races that make up the Triple Crown. There are multiple different horse races to bet on though, and many different types of bets offered also. Horse betting can be a tough sport to figure out with all of the different combo bets that you can make, but that’s where America’s Bookie’s Horse Betting section comes into play. We are here to help explain more in-depth the different types of horse racing bets, and explain how they work. Let’s get right into it!

Win, Place, or Show Bets

Win, place, and show bets are the most common type of bets that you can make in horse race betting. These bets are placed on one specific horse, and are the simplest bets offered as well. If you bet on a horse to win, it is just as it sounds; that the horse you choose must win the race for you to win your bet. Betting on a horse to place, means that the horse must finish in either first or second for you to win your bet. The ”show” bet, means that you are betting on a horse to finish either first, second, or third. The odds pay out the best for the win bet, in comparison to the place, or show bet. Let’s take a look at an example of each bet.

Betting on Animal Kingdom to Win/Place/Show:

Win: 7/1
Place: 5/1
Show: 3/1

Trifecta and Superfecta Horse Race Bets

A trifecta bet is much tougher than any bet listed above, as you have to choose three horses and their exact order of finish in the top three. Of course placing this type of bet will give out a much better payout if you are able to hit it. A superfecta bet pays out one of the highest odds on the board, as it is one of the toughest bets to hit out of any one out there. In a superfecta, your job is to select which four horses will finish in first, second, third, and fourth place; and also their exact finishing order. So if you choose all four horses but the order is wrong, you will automatically lose your bet, which makes it a very tough bet.

Quinella and Exacta Bets

The idea behind these two types of bets are that you are choosing the top two finishers for a specific race. While quinella and exacta bets are similar, they will offer very different odds for one reason. Quinella bets are where you choose two horses to finish in first and second, but the exact order does not matter. So all you have to do is choose two horses which will finish in the top two places. An exacta bet, is where you are going to choose two horses to finish in the top two as well, but you have to choose the exact order of their finish (hence the name!). The odds on these two bets will be quite a bit different though, as betting on two horses to finish in the top two in any order, is a bit easier than choosing their exact order of finish.


Double bets on horse racing are essentially where you are choosing the winner of one race, and the winner of the race right after it. This bet is most commonly done on either the first two races, or last two races of the day; but of course, can be done at any time. So your bet on a double would sound something like: ”bet $3 on number 5 to win the first race, and number 8 to win the second race. The odds will pay out very well as this is basically like betting on a parlay in most sports. Doubles betting in horse racing is not the most popular type of bet, but is one that can have a very nice payout if you are about to hit it.

Matchup Horse Race Betting

Matchup betting is just like in most sports, where you are choosing a horse in a head to head matchup against another. It works most similar to tennis and golf, where two players are going against each other for the bet. The odds on this type of bet will vary a bit, because it mainly depends on how heavy of a favorite a horse is to win the race. If you have one horse who is a big favorite to win, against another horse who is expected to be in the middle of the pack to the back end, you’ll find that the odds won’t pay very well on the favorite.

Horse 3 is a +300 favorite to win the race, while horse 7 has odds of +800 to win it. If these two were matched heads up, the odds would be somewhere around -200 for horse 3 to beat horse 7.

Horse Racing Prop Bets

Horse racing won’t have nearly as many prop betting options as most other sports will, but it can still definitely have some very profitable ones. The most common types of prop bets in horse racing are betting on whether or not a horse can finish in the top 3, and the top 5, and also betting on which country the horse that wins the race is from. Both of these bets will have odds that vary quite a bit due to the fact that betting on a horse to finish top 3 or top 5, will largely depend on how many horses are in the race. The more horses that are in the race, the better the odds will pay out if you choose a horse to finish in the top 3 or top 5.

With the ”betting on which country the winning horse is from” bet, this will have odds that depend on how many horses from each country are in the race. So if there is 5 horses from one country, and each other horse is from a different country; then betting on the country with five horses will most likely have odds that won’t pay out the winner very well.

Futures Betting on Horse Racing

Futures betting on horse racing can either be very tough, or a very great way to turn a profit. It all depends on whether or not you can find good angles on this type of bet. Specifically, the most popular type of futures bet is betting on a horse to win the Kentucky Derby. The Kentucky Derby is the most popular horse race in the world, and one that draws an incredible amount of attention. The hardest part about betting on this race much before it begins, is that it’s tough to tell which horses will be racing, and also what type of form they will be in when race time comes around. Things do happen in horse races, which could leave you in a spot where your horse may not even be able to race by the time the Kentucky Derby is set to begin!

You can place futures bets on almost any big time horse race out there, and the most important thing is to find the angles on which horses look like they’ll be strong contenders to win the race. The odds on a futures bet for a horse race will pay out very well, and can give you a great return on your investment if you are able to hit one.

As you can tell, the betting options on horse racing can get a bit confusing, but after you start to do some research on them they are fairly straight forward in the end. Horse race betting is a great sports betting option, but one that you also need to do research on to be a profitable bettor with.

When going to bet horses, there are so many different things to look for and decide. First thing to realize is that there are different kinds of bets, all from the simpleness of Win, Place and Show, to exotic bets where you have to pick the winner of a certain number of races, to trying to predict the order the horses finish. Also deciphering whether you want to bet the Thoroughbreds, Harness (also known as buggy-style) or quarter-horses (usually sprint between 200 and 400 yards). Here are some things to look for:

See who the jockey or driver (Harness) Is

Just as any other sport, some are better at their craft than others. Look at statistics for each jockey/driver and go with those who win a lot. If you are at the track, ask people to see who the top jockeys or drivers are. They may be a short price but may be a sign of who could win. After all, they make more money when riding the top horses.

Don’t blindly bet the highest price horse to win

There’s probably a reason they are the longest shot in the field. This is a pure gamble, and unless you are ok with it, don’t do it. Yes, the longest shot does come in from time to time, but don’t count on it. And remember, if you see a horse that is 4/1 or greater and you bet $2, and that horse wins, you will get back $10 minimum. Not bad and that horse probably has a good chance to win.

If you’re just starting, don’t try exotic bets

Yes, it would be nice to put down a $1 bet and leave with hundreds or thousands of dollars. But, unless you get extremely lucky and pick the right combination of numbers, it isn’t going to happen. Instead, stick with the Win, Place, and Show bets. If you really want to gamble, wager more than the minimum. But, until you have an idea of what you’re doing or how to handicap, stick with the simple bets that have the best chance of getting you money back.

If at an Off-Track Betting Parlor, don’t bet every race

There may be up to 30-40 tracks running races at the prime times, with about 3-5 going off at about the same time, every few minutes. Want to quickly lose money?


This was the first type of multi-race wager offered by tracks and is offered by almost any horse track in North America. It is most commonly found as a bet during the first two races of a card.
Some race tracks will offer a quinella bet. This two dollar minimum bet will usually pay cheaper than an exacta/perfecta of the same bet amount but is easier than an exacta to bet.
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