How To Bet On Horse Racing

Gambler Saloon
August 23, 2018
How To Bet On Horse Racing

If you’re just getting started betting on horse races, you might be confused by the multitudes of wagering options available. No panic! GamblerSaloon is here to help you! In the following guide you’ll see an explanation of how horse racing works, followed by a detailed explanation of each bet type available.

Horse Racing Betting: is it legal?

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) has a carveout for horse racing. That leaves it up to the states whether they want to legalize online wagering on horse races. Horseracing bets are allowed in the majority of the states, including Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.

How do I gamble on US Horse Racing?

You’ll be able to gamble on US horse racing in many ways. You’ll obviously be able to gamble at the racetrack itself, and from the US you’ll be able to place bets at casinos and online through ADW sites – examples being, or

One of the nice things about online horse racing is that you can bet on races that take place around the country. If you live on the West Coast and want to bet on a race that is taking place on the East Coast, that’s no problem.

You can even watch the races live on your computer or mobile device (smartphones or tablets) and see how your bets pan out in real time.

How to bet on Horse Racing: Getting Started

Now that you know that horse racing betting is legal in your state, it’s time to understand how to start betting on horses via Internet. The only difference is that instead of talking to a cashier at the racetrack, you select your wagers onscreen using your mouse and keyboard, or your fingers.

Follow these simple steps:

  1. Create Your Betting Account
    Open a new account with one of our suggested legal horse racing sportsbook on this page.
  2. Fund Your Betting Account
    The next step is to fund your account. You can use a plethora of deposit methods, including Wire Transfers, credit or debit cards, check or money order, e-check, prepaid vouchers such as Green Dot Moneypak.
  3. Place Your Bets
    After you have an account funded with money, you can start placing your wagers. Select the track, race and horses you want to bet on. Choose among all the bet types and confirm your bet.

Wanna learn which are the three main bets and all the exotic bets you can place whne you bet on horse racing? Read the section below.

Horse Racing Bet Types

There are a plethora of type of bets you can place on a single horse race or on several horse races at the same track.

Straight Wagers

With a straight wager, you only bet on one horse.


Your selected horse must finish in 1st place. If your horse wins the race, you get to collect.


Your selected horse must finish 1st or 2nd place. If your wins the race or finishes runner-up, you get to collect.


Your selected horse must finish 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place. Of course, the payout for a show bet is substantially less than a win or place wager.

Across the Board

An across-the-board bet is what’s called a “combo straight wager” because it consist of three different bets. When you bet across the board, you’re betting your horse to win, place, AND show. If your horse wins you collect the win, place and show winnings. If he finishes 2nd, you collect the place and show winnings. If he finishes third, you just get the show winnings.

Since it’s three bets in one, an across-the-board bet is more expensive than a straight bet. For example, a $2 across-the-board wager will cost you $6.
This wager is not recommended for favorite horses. We suggest you to use it to back long shots horses.


Similar to an across-the-board, it consists of two wagers in a single bet. If your horse wins the race, you get both the win and place money. If he finsihes 2nd, you collect only the place winnings. If he finishes third, you do not collect any winnings.


With this wager you win if your horse finishes 2nd or 3rd as you are betting that your horse will place and show.

Exotic Bets: Single Race

Things get more interesting with exotic bets such as Exacta, Quinella, Trifecta, Superfecta, boxed bets and keyed bets etc..

Exacta (or Perfecta)

The Exacta is the combination of predicting the winning horse and the second place horse, in order. You can also “box” your exacta bet which means your two horses can come in any order in the top two spots and you still win. A box exacta will cost twice as much as a straight exacta bet.


Similar to the Exacta, you’re betting on two horses to come in first and second in any order. Your selected horses must finish 1st and 2nd place in either order. Since this is easier to predict than an Exacta, it also pays less than the Exacta (typically it pays about half of the Exacta payoff). Obviously, a $2 quinella bet costs $2 while a $2 box exacta bet will cost you $4.


The Trifecta requires the bettor to pick three horses. You bet that three horses will finish in first, second, and third in an exact order. It is significantly harder to predict than an Exacta, and accordingly will pay out much more for a winning bet. You can also box your trifecta bet so you can win if your three horses come in first, second, and third in any order. So a $2 trifecta box bet will actually cost you $12.


The most difficult of the single race exotics as your selected horses must finish in 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place in exact order. The payoff for a Superfecta is generally very high. As with exactas and trifectas, you can box a superfecta at an additional cost. The minimum bet is often 10-cents, which makes it more appealing to many people.

Keying Horses

You can key horses when you have a strong feeling that one horse will finish first but you aren’t as sure about the horses that will take 2nd and 3rd place. In other words, you have one “key” horse picked to win the race and a few other horses that will come in after that one.

As a consequence, you can place a Trifecta Key, a Superfecta key, etc..

Exotic Bets: Multiple Races

You can also place exotic bets that involve several races at the same racetrack such as Double, Pick 3, Pick 4, Pick 6 and Place Pick All


A Double requires the bettor to pick the winner in two consecutive races.

Pick 3/Pick 4/Pick 6:

These bets are all similar to the Double wager, only differing in the amount of consecutive races that a bettor needs to predict the winner. Your selected horses must finish 1st place in three, four or six consecutive races. For Pick 3s and Pick 4s, if nobody has the required number of races correct, they will typically pay out for people who missed one less race. For a Pick 6, the majority of the Pick 6 pool will be carried over to the next racing day, making the subsequent Pick 6 pool even larger. There will sometimes be a consolation payment for picking five winners.

Place Pick All

This bet is similar to a Pick-x, except that you need a horse to place (come in 1st or 2nd) in each race on the card, instead of to win (usually 8 or 9 races).

Author Gambler Saloon