How to Bet

How to Bet

Welcome to Horse Racing 101, where you can learn all the basics of having fun betting on horse racing.

Pari-Mutuel Wagering

Pari-Mutuel Wagering means, literally, a mutuel wager or “betting among ourselves”. All the money that is wagered worldwide on a particular race and bet type (see “Types of Wagering” for the different bet types) is put into a separate electronic pool. The race track where the race is being conducted is merely a broker for the transaction and deducts a fixed commission or “takeout” from that pool. The takeout is retained by the track and a percentage of it becomes “purse money,” the money for which the horses compete. The racetrack has no fiscal interest in the actual “official” order finish of a race. The track’s share (the takeout) remains the same no matter who wins a particular race.

Types of Wagering

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Win-Place-Show Bets
Win-Place-Show Bets

Betting on horse racing can be fun and easy. There are several different wagers offered each race, but these are the three most basic:

Win – Your selection must finish 1st.
The first is a "win" wager. Betting a horse to win is just as fun as it sounds – the horse must win the race in order for you to win the wager.

Place – Your selection must finish 1st or 2nd.
Next, is a "place" wager. This is betting on a horse to finish in the top 2. You win the wager if your horse finishes first or second.

Show – Your selection must finish 1st, 2nd or 3rd.
Betting a horse to "show" means selecting a horse who you think will finish in the top 3. You win the wager if your horse finishes first, second, or third.

Because of the difficulty of a win wager, it will yield the highest payoff of these three wagers. A show wager will yield the lowest payoff but offers the greatest chance of winning.

The minimum bet for a win, place or show wager is only $2.

Exacta Bets
Exacta Bets

You must select the first two horses to finish in the exact order.

If you've mastered the art of win, place and show wagers, try an exacta. An exacta is more difficult than win, place and show wagers, but yields a higher payout. You bet an exacta by selecting a minimum two horses to finish first and second. These horses must finish first and second, in that order, for you to win the wager.

If picking two horses in order sounds too difficult, you can "box" your wager. A boxed wager will win if your horses finish 1st and 2nd, in any order, making it more likely for you to win.

The minimum bet for an exacta or exacta box wager is only $2.

Trifecta Bets
Trifecta Bets

You must select the first three horses to finish in exact order.

If you've mastered the art of win, place and show wagers, try a trifecta. A trifecta is more difficult than win, place and show wagers, as well as exacta wagers, so it yields a higher payout than any of those bets.

You bet a trifecta be selecting a minimum three horses to finish first, second, and third. These horses must finish first, second, and third, in that exact order, for you to win the wager.

If picking three horses in order sounds too difficult you can "box" your wager. A boxed trifecta wager will win if your horses finish 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, in any order, making it more likely to win.

The minimum bet for a trifecta wager is only 50 cents and you can bet a trifecta box for as little as $3.

Exotics
Exotics

Quinella – You must select the first and second horses in any order.
Superfecta – You must select the first four horses to finish in exact order.
Superhigh5 – You must select the first five horses to finish in exact order.
Daily Double – You must select the winner of two consecutive races.

Multiple               

Pick 3 – You must select the winners of three consecutive races as designated in the program.
Pick 4 – You must select the winners of four consecutive races as designated in the program.
Pick 5 – You must select the winners of five consecutive races as designated in the program.
Pick 6 – You must select the winners of six consecutive races as designated in the program.

Not all wagers are available on every race. Wagers depend on track and race.

How to Make a Bet

When Wagering With a Self Serve Terminal

  1. A voucher may be purchased from any Mutuel Clerk or Self-Service Terminal (SST). Cash? Winning ticket?
  2. Choose the track you wish to to wager on.
  3. Choose the race number you wish to bet.
  4. Choose the amount you wish to bet.
  5. Choose the type of wager you would like to make.
  6. Choose the number (s) you wish to bet on and /or the respective combinations you want to make by using the numbers and wager types.
  7. Print ticket when completed wager.
  8. Remember to check your tickets and press “FINISH” to get your remaining balance in the form of a voucher.

When Wagering With a Mutuel Teller
Tell the Mutuel Teller these five things in this order:

  1. What track you want to bet on.
  2. What race number (unless betting on the current race).
  3. How much you want to bet.
  4. What kind of bet you want (win, place, show, exacta, etc…)
  5. The number of the horse.

FOR EXAMPLE:  “Santa Anita, race 5, $2.00 to win on number 7.”

How to Collect Your Winnings

If you have made a winning wager, take it to any mutuel window after the race is declared official to collect your winnings. Try to avoid cashing winning tickets within five minutes prior to a race, especially if you do not plan to wager on that race. Many people prefer to wait until the last few minutes of a race to place their wagers, and cash tickets. You may take full amount in payment or wager back all or part of it on upcoming races. If you are unsure whether you have a winning ticket, do not hesitate to have it checked at any window.

IRS Regulations

The Internal Revenue Service requires reporting of payouts on wagers that exceed odds of more than 300 to 1 and pay in excess of $600.  IRS regulations also require automatic withholding on IRS payouts that exceed $5,000.  There is no withholding on payouts less than $5,000.  IRS tickets cannot be cashed for guests who do not provide proof of a social security number and a picture ID.

Items to Consider when Wagering at the Races
  1. Wager on the favorite - The favorite is the horse with the lowest odds or the one on which the most money has been wagered. Favorites win approximately one third of the time.
  2. Check the local papers, the Daily Racing Form and the program handicappers' sections - The observations and advice of a recognized expert are generally a good guide for the newcomer. They offer a popular shortcut for the newcomer and a helpful learning tool for developing handicapping skills.
  3. Purchase a tip sheet - These are prepared by professional handicappers and may provide useful wagering selections.
  4. Look in the program for a list of jockey and trainer standings which include the number of wins to date -
  5. The top riders generally ride the best horses, and the hot trainers generally have a high win percentage.
  6. View the horses - Watch the TV monitors while the horses are in the paddock and in the Post Parade.
Multiple Race Wagers

Multiple Wagers consist of Daily Doubles, Pick 3’s, Pick 4’s, Pick 6’s and Place Pick All’s. The larger the number of bets the harder it is to pick, as well as the greater the payoff. For these bets, it is recommended to take several combinations of horses (part wheel) in each race to increase your chances of winning (although it does increase the cost).

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Types
Types

Daily Double - You must correctly select the winners of two consecutive races. Both horses must win in order to collect. The Daily Doubles are most often held on the first two races and the last two races of the day. The minimum bet is typically $2.00. However, some tracks allow $1.00 Doubles.

Pick Three - You must correctly select the winners of three consecutive races. All three must win in order for you to collect. Typically the minimum bet is $1.00.

Pick Four - You must correctly select the winners of four consecutive races. All four must win in order for you to collect. Typically the minimum bet is $1.00. However, some tracks allow .50 cent Pick Four’s.

Pick Six - You must correctly select the winners of six consecutive races. All six must win in order for you to collect. The minimum bet is $2.00. This is the ultimate jackpot wager in the racing industry.

Place Pick All - You may win a major payoff if you correctly select a horse to finish first or second in every race on the entire race card (8, 9 or 10 races). If no ticket contains the winning combination for all races, the payoff will go to the ticket with the highest number of correct selections. The minimum bet is $1.00.

“Grand Slam”- Select a horse to finish either first, second or third in three consecutive races and then the official winner in the next race. This bet is currently available on the New York Circuit. AUQ, BEL, SAR

Strategies
Strategies
PICK 3 STRATEGIES
 
Race 3
 
 
 
 
Race 4
Race 5
YOUR TOP SELECTIONS
 
7
5
3
but you also like:
 
9-6
1-3
4-2
 
Race 3
 
Race 4
Race 5
Cost
TICKET 1
7
/
5
/
3
$2.00
TICKET 2
7
/
1,3,5
/
2,3,4
$18.00

TICKET 3

6,7,9
/
5
/
2,3,4
$18.00
TICKET 4
6,7,9
/
1,3,5
/
3
$18.00
So if 7,5,3 Win (your top selections) all your tickets will be winners. You win all four tickets instead of one.

Actual layouts will depend on how many potential singles there are among the top-rated contenders and how many logical back-up possibilities there are in each race, including the races with potential singles. At the bottom line all decisions must be funneled through the limitations of the player’s bankroll.

PICK 6 STRATEGIES
 
Race
Race
Race
Race
Race
Race
3
4
5
6
7
8
YOUR TOP SELECTIONS
6
4
3
1
7
8
but you also like:
-
-
4-2-6
-
5-6
1-3-5
Figure your ticket out before you go to the window.
 
Example with 3 Singles
 
Total
1
x
1
x
4
x
1
x
3
x
4
X   $2
$96
Race 3
Race 4
Race 5
Race 6
Race 7
Race 8
(48 Combinations)
 
Example with 2 Singles (you like 2 horses in the 6th race instead of 1)
1
x
1
x
4
x
2
x
3
x
4
X   $2
$192
Race 3
Race 4
Race 5
Race 6
Race 7
Race 8
(96 Combinations)
Pick 3 • Pick 4 • Pick 6
Pick 3 • Pick 4 • Pick 6

Many race tracks have at least one or two available Pick 3’s or Pick 4’s on a card. Some tracks also offer one Pick 6 per card. If there is available Pick 3/4/6 to bet on, there will be a note of it on the first race (or leg) of the wager. The payoff for one of these bets will be shown on the results of the last leg of the wager. For Pick 3’s and Pick 4’s, if nobody has the required number of races correct, they will typically pay out for people who missed one less race. For example, if nobody predicted a Pick 4 correctly, people who had 3 of 4 correct will get paid. In addition, the payoff results would indicate a payoff for “Pick 4 (3 of 4 correct)”. For a Pick 6, typically the track will also give a small payout to bettors who had 5 of the 6 correct. However, if nobody had all 6 correct, the majority of the Pick 6 pool will be carried over to the next racing day, making the subsequent Pick 6 pool even larger.