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How To Bet On US Horse Racing
UK Horse Racing

How To Bet On US Horse Racing

It’s hard not to fall in love with the buzz and excitement of horse racing.

From the Kentucky Derby to the Grand National, people across the world love nothing more than a punt on a horse.

A few friendly wagers on horse racing can be both profitable and fun. All you have to do is beat the odds to pick the winner.

Whether you are betting at home or in the stands, there are ways you can give yourself an advantage.

To help you yield great rewards, we’re offering some top tips on how to bet on horse racing in the US.

Top Tips on How to Bet on Horse Racing

It really isn’t too hard to bet on horse racing in the US.

If you want to know how to place your first bet, all you have to do is:

Step one: Write the racetrack name.
Step two: Write the number race you have chosen to bet on.
Step three: Write down the dollar amount of the bet.
Step four: Write the wager type (To win, show or a combination)
Step five: Write the horse’s number.

Don’t forget to check your ticket as you leave the window to ensure it’s correct.

You never know, you could be bringing the ticket back to the window to collect your race winnings.

The Different Types of Horse Racing Bets

There are two category types to choose from when betting on horse racing:

Straight wagers
Exotic wagers

Beginners might have no clue how to bet on horse racing, and the different types can be confusing.

To simplify the process for you, we are taking a look at the different types of horse racing bets.

Straight Wagers

If you’re not used to placing horse racing bets, we recommend you start with straight wagers.

Not only are they simple to understand, but the minimum bet is only $2. All you have to do is pick a horse to take first, second or third place.

You only pick one horse with a straight wager, which you can pick to:


You will bet your full stake on the horse to come in at first place. You will only be able to collect a reward if the horse wins.


If you bet for a “place”, you will be betting for the horse to come in first or second in the race.

You will receive a payout for the winner or the runner-up.

A payout for a place bet will be less than for a “win” bet. Yet, you are more likely to receive a cash amount, as the bet is a little more flexible.


The show offers even more flexibility for a bet, as a horse can come in first, second or third.

You’ll have an improved chance of winning a bet, but the payout will be considerably smaller than a “win” or “place”.

Across the Board

If you make a bet across the board, you will bet on a horse to win, place and show.

This is known as a combo straight wager, because you are making three bets in one. As a result, it will be more expensive than only a win/place or show.

While you would pay $2 for a win, you would pay $2 each for a win, place and show. So you’ll pay $6 for the across the board bet.

If the horse takes first place, you will receive the win, place and show money: if it takes the second spot, you’ll get the place and show money, and if the horse comes in third place, you can collect the show money.

The bet can be expensive, and there can be less profit if a horse doesn’t come in at first place.

Win/Place or Place/Show

A win/place or place/show bet works a little like an across-the-board bet.

You’ll make multiple bets in one bet. In a win/place bet, you’ll win both the win and place if the horse takes first place.

If the horse comes in second, you’ll take the place money.

In a place/show bet, you’ll bet on the horse taking place and show. If it finishes the race in second place, you’ll collect the place and show money. Yet, if it finishes third, you will receive the show money.

Exotic Wagers

Exotic wagers are a little more complex to straight wagers. That’s because you will make multiple bets on multiple horses in one bet.

As your bet will depend on multiple horses and bets, they’re often harder to win.

It takes much knowledge and skill – or luck – to pick the right horses.

They’re also much more expensive than a standard straight wager. Yet, the payoffs can be much bigger, if your horses win the race.


An exacta means you will bet on two horses to take first and second place in the race in an exact order. Hence the name.

For instance, if you place a $2 exacta bet on horses 3 and 5, you can collect if horse 3 comes first and horse 5 is second.

Many skilled betters may take out an exacta bet, because they offer a considerable return.

You also have an option to “box” an exacta bet. This ensures your two horses can come in any order in first and second place.

Yet, boxing an exacta bet will cost you double the amount of a straight exacta bet.

It might sound a little complicated, but beginners can do it, too.


Not sure how to bet on horse racing using a quinella bet?

You simply need to bet on two horses to come in first and second in any order.

The two horses both have to finish in the top two places for you to win. If one horse lets you down, you won’t be able to collect.

Does this sound too much like an exacta bet? Well, it isn’t.

A quinella bet will cost you at least $2, while an exacta bet will cost at least $4.

For this reason, the payout will be greater for an exacta bet.


A trifecta bet allows you to bet on three horses to take home first, second and third place in an exact order.

It’s similar to an exacta bet but with three horses instead of two.

Like exacta, you can also box a trifecta bet, so you can win if the horses take the top three spots in any order.

This is not a cheap bet, because there are many horses and combinations.

A $2 trifecta box bet could cost you at least $12.


A superfecta is like an exacta or trifecta bet. The only difference is you’ll bet on four horses to finish at first, second, third and fourth in an exact order.

Again, you can box in the bet so they can win in any order.

A superfecta can be a more appealing option, as the smallest bet usually starts at 10 cents.


There are many different terms you will learn the more you enjoy the sport. It’s wise to only make small bets when starting out, so you can gain experience in the sport.

The best way to learn how to bet on horse racing is to start with a small straight wager.

Once you learn how the process works, you’ll feel confident to attempt the more exotic wagers.

Aim to make an informed decision and learn the ins and outs of the process, and you could receive a great return.

Do you have any top tips for how to bet on horse racing? Share your advice in the comments section below.

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