How to Bet on Horse RacingIn one of the strange mysteries of the betting world, the majority of sports bettors tend to stay away from the horses, while those who often play the ponies tend to stay away from sports betting for the most part.
There are exceptions, naturally, and many bettors tend to cross over when it's time for the big events, such as the Super Bowl or Final Four in the sports world, or the Kentucky Derby or the Breeder's Cup in the world of horse racing.
This article will concentrate on betting the bigger races, such as the Breeder's Cup and Triple Crown races, as those are typically the only races that sports bettors will wager on.
The most important rule for sports bettors venturing out to the world of horse racing is to remember that the rule of betting on the bigger events pertains to the bigger horse races. Just as most of the betting value is gone from the Super Bowl, World Series, etc., the same holds true when it comes to the horses.
If you're betting strictly for entertainment, keep your bets small. There is no need to have a large wager on an event that is so difficult to predict. What makes the bigger races even harder to handicap is that the field will consist of nothing but good horses.
If you're betting a cheap allowance race at a mid-level track, there may only be a couple of good horses running, but that isn't the case when it comes to a Triple Crown race. Each of the horses running is a quality animal who was bred specifically for this moment.
The Basics of Horse RacingThere have been hundreds of books written about how to bet the ponies, so it's probably an injustice to try and sum it up in a few paragraphs, but we'll give it a shot.
As many of you know, when it comes time to place a wager, gamblers can bet to win, place, or show. Bettors who bet to win will only collect if their horse crosses the finish line first, while bettors to wager on their horse to place, will collect if their horse runs first or second. Bettors making a show wager will collect if their horse finishes first, second or third.
Naturally, the greater the risk the greater the reward, so the payoff will be greater on a horse to win or place than it is to show. There will be an occasional exception where a show payoff may be a bit higher than the place, but those are extremely rare and usually occur when you have an extremely heavy favorite involved.
There are also plenty of exotic wagers horse bettors can make, such as exactas, quinellas, and trifectas, but we'll leave those alone, since anybody placing one of those bets probably knows more than the scope of this article.
There has been plenty written about betting win, place, or show, with the majority of horse racing authors saying betting to win is the only way to go. One book I read went as far as to have "Bet to win only," the only contents of one chapter.
But since we, as sports bettors, should be wagering for entertainment, we can ignore that rule and have no hesitation of betting to win and place, or to win, place, and show.
Follow the Money
When it comes time for one of the big races, bettors shouldn't be afraid of staying away from the favorite and looking for a higher-priced horse to win. Sure, we'll win less often, but on those rare times we do, our payoff will be much greater. And since we are doing this for entertainment, there's nothing wrong with taking a bit of a gamble.
One thing to look for is horses who have been bet down in half from their opening odds. A horse who opened at 20-1 and is now 10-1 would be an example, just as a horse who opened at 6-1 and is now 3-1 would be. Those horses are being wagered on for a reason and are worth watching. Even if they fail to come through for us, at least we'll have plenty of company tearing up our losing tickets.
If they do come through for us, we'll have plenty of people to celebrate with, as well.
Remember, make your wagers small and you're more likely to enjoy the race regardless of the outcome.
For those who want to study horse racing more thoroughly should visit About.com's Horse Racing Site where you'll find plenty of good information.