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Horse Betting Basics at the Track

How would you like to have the most exciting two minutes of your day take place over and over again? That is what is possible when betting on horse races. You can bet race after race and at multiple tracks. Most horse races last about 2 minutes and they bring an excitement that is hard to duplicate.

The Kentucky Derby is known as the most exciting two minutes of the year. I’ll go over the basics of horse betting so you have an idea of what to do and I’ll look at some ways that you can profit from those exciting two minutes.

Let’s begin with horse betting basics; you can learn more about these on some of the pages on this site. Horses can be bet to win, place, or show. That means they finish first, second or third. If you bet a horse to place, if he finishes first or second you win your bet. If you bet to show, he needs to finish in one of the top three positions for you to be paid.

How to bet more exotic wagers

You can also bet exactas, quinellas, trifectas, pick three’s, pick four’s, and pick sixes. Let’s go over each one of those. The exacta is picking the exact order of finish of the first two horses. Say you have an eight horse field and you like the #1 to finish first and the #7 to finish second. You would bet 1-7 in an exacta. If it came in 1-7 you would be a nice winner.

A quinella is similar, but in this case, either the 1 or the 7 can be first or second for you to win your bet. A trifecta is betting the exact order of the first three horses.

Since hitting an exacta, quinella, or trifecta can be somewhat difficult, you may want to put more than one horse into your bet. That is called boxing horses. For example, lets say you like four horses really strong in this eight horse field. You box those four horses. If any of those horses finish first or second you would win an exacta box. The same holds true for a trifecta box if they finished in the top three positions.

Multiple Race Wagers

Now that we have covered the basics for an individual race let’s put some races together. That is what is called as the daily double, pick three, pick four, or pick 6. We have to get the winner of three races in a row to hit the pick three, four for the pick 4 and six for the pick 6. The daily double is the first usually the first two races of the day and you need both winners to collect on that bet.

Remember the huge tickets that are hit each year on the Breeder’s Cup pick 6? The bettor has to correctly select all the winners for each of the six selected races. And the payoffs are usually huge. It is not easy to pick 6 winners in a row. It is even more difficult than hitting a 6 team parlay in sports because you have to choose from so many horses each race.

To help your odds, you take a few of your favorites each race and box them together. That way, if any of your top choices win the race, you are a winner. But it is expensive. That is why most average bettors stick to the pick three or pick four.

You can box say three horses in each race for a total of $27 on a pick three. Or a pick four would cost you $81 if you boxed that many horses. You are taking 3x3x3x3 for that pick four. The pick six gets pretty expensive so you want to really lock in on a few horses and hope that they win. And example would look like this. 4x3x1x2x1x1 – that would be $48 dollars since when you play the pick six it is usually for 2 dollars. The pick three and pick four examples above are based on one dollar.

How to Pick Winners

What do we look for when betting on the horses? It is always best to start with a racing form. This gives you the basic statistics of all the horses in the race. You can also check out the racing odds at all pro.

I like to look at how the horse did in their last race. Recent form is important in every sport and horse racing is no exception. The speed figures for each horse are listed in bold at the right of each of their past races.

For a good starting point look at how those figures compare. I like to look at the horse with the top figure in his last race and key that horse in possible exactas, trifectas, and pick three’s.

Another area to take a look at is the odds board as race time approaches. Look at the difference between the morning line and the current line to see what horse is really getting heavily bet. Most of the time that horse is a “live” horse and has a very good chance at winning the race. Don’t leave him out of your wagering.

I’ll give you one final thing to consider when handicapping and betting the horses. Use your gut instinct. Sometimes you’ll see a horse with a name that really hits something inside you. Go with it. It does not always make sense, but how many times have we had that feeling that this horse will win?

We look at the form though and his statistics are really poor. The horse wins the race and we kick ourselves for not betting him. Trust your intuition and let it aid your handicapping. The experts won’t give this idea much of a thought but it is something to consider when making your final selections.

If you are completely stuck at the track and don’t know who to play, you have two choices. Sit the race out or pick something. Since most of us want to play, if you are going to bet, choose the favorite.

The favorite in a horse race wins about 25 to 30 percent of the time. That at least gives you a decent chance to win when you have no real feel for the race. With the Kentucky Derby just around the corner take the opportunity to play more than just the one race. Play some pick three’s, some trifectas, and really enjoy yourself.

Horse racing is pulse pounding excitement that lasts just a couple of minutes. You can get that feeling race after race. And as always, when you get that gut feeling – go with it.

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