Horse Racing FAQs
Ready to jump into the world of horse racing and betting? In this guide, we unpack the essentials of this popular pastime so you can start making smart betting choices.
How do I bet on horse racing?
You can place bets online or at the track. Before placing your bet, make sure to have the following information ready:
- The name of the racetrack
- Which number race you’re betting
- The dollar value of your bet (the minimum bet is typically $2)
- The type of wager
- The number of the horse(s) you’re betting on
To learn more about placing bets, check out our blog How to Bet on Horse Racing & Win.
How do odds work in horse racing?
In horse racing, the odds give a sense of how well a horse is expected to perform in a race. Typically, higher odds indicate you’ll be less likely to win, but in the event that the horse does place, your payout will be larger. Incorporating odds into your betting strategy requires balancing your risk tolerance with the potential for a larger payout.
What are exotic bets in horse racing?
An exotic bet is a type of wager in which you choose multiple horses you think will place in a certain race and what order they will place in, creating more complex odds than a win, show or place bet. There are several types of exotic bets, including exactas, trifectas and superfectas, each with its own strategies and betting odds. Learn more in our blog Exacta, Trifecta, Superfecta: Exotic Bets Explained.
How do I read horse racing odds?
Odds are often written out as two numbers divided by a slash or a dash (i.e. 10/1, 7-2, etc.) expressing the relationship between the profit and the amount invested if a bet is successful. For instance, if a horse has odds of 4/1, that means that if you place your bet with $10 and win, you will receive $40 in return.
What does SCR mean in horse racing?
SCR is an abbreviation for scratch. A horse is “scratched” when it withdraws from a race due to injury, illness or other outside factors. Learn more about why horses get scratched and what it means for bettors on our blog.
What are the different horse-racing wager types?
The three main types of wagers are win, show and place. A Win is a bet on which horse will finish first. A Show is a bet that the horse will finish first or second. A Place is a bet that your horse will finish in the top three. All other wager types are referred to as exotic bets.
What are Pick 3, Pick 4, Pick 5 and Pick 6 in horse racing?
Pick 3, Pick 4, Pick 5 and Pick 6 bets are very similar; the only difference is the number of races being bet on. An individual wins a Pick 3 by correctly predicting the winners of three different races; if they made a Pick 5, they’d bet on the winners of five different races.
What does post time mean in a horse-racing schedule?
The post time refers to the designated time for a race to start. No further bets can be placed after the post time.
How do will-pays work in horse racing?
Will-pays are the expected payout on a successful bet, usually referring to the payout of an exotic bet. They give you a better idea of your potential earnings and can help you decide which bets are worth the risk. Tracks may display will-pays for some common wager types, like exactas and daily doubles, but many times, a bettor will have to calculate them themselves if they want to know their potential winnings.
What’s the history of horse racing?
Horse racing has likely taken place since horses were first ridden, but the modern sport can be traced back to 16th-century England. Read our History of Horse Racing in the U.S. blog for the full story!
What are the different horse racing distances?
Common terms used to describe horse racing distances include furlong and length. A furlong is equal to 220 yards (or an eighth of a mile) and is used to measure any distance of a track shorter than a mile. Once a race’s length exceeds a mile, any remaining distance is typically measured by fractions of a mile. A length is based on the size of the first horse that crosses the finish line as measured from the tip of the nose to the tail (typically between 8 and 9 feet) and is used as a measurement of the time elapsed between horses crossing the finish line. Learn more in our blog on Horse Racing Distances Explained.
What is handicapping in horse racing?
Handicapping is the act of studying the backgrounds of racehorses — including their past performance, bloodline, training and more — in order to predict the outcome of a race, usually to make more informed betting decisions.
What is a tip sheet in horse racing?
A tip sheet is a document made by a handicapper that provides information on potential bets for horse racing. They typically list all of the horses competing, their odds and insights from the handicapper on their chances of winning. Visit our Tip Sheets page to learn more about these handy betting tools.
Horse racing glossary
Sometimes it may seem like horse-racing enthusiasts are speaking another language. Let’s take a look at some of the key terminologies used at the track so you can start speaking the lingo too.
Horses & their care
A horse whose running style is to get on or near the lead at the start of a race and stay there as long as possible.
A horse that has not yet won a race.
At the race
A non-claiming race with conditions on which horses are eligible to enter. For example, it may only be open to horses who have not won three races.
At The Post
(To) Bear In
(To) Bear Out
(To) Break Maiden
First Turn (Sometimes Clubhouse Turn)
Short for “scratch.” A horse is a scratch when it is withdrawn from the race.
Across The Board
A combination of three different bets: a win bet, a place bet and a show bet. If the horse wins, the player collects three ways; if it places second, two ways; if it places third, one way.
Daily Racing Form
In The Money
Ready to learn more about horse racing and become a better bettor?
Join our mailing list and stay up to date with the latest tips and tricks from our expert handicappers!