Horse racing has long been the best sport for sports gamblers. The entire horse racing experience is centered around placing a wager and has been for over 100 years.
Despite its long history, horse racing does suffer from one consistent problem for players old or new. To put it simply, it’s a very complicated wagering system. Well, maybe not complicated as much as intimidating.
Gamblers who have been playing the ponies for years have no idea what some wagers on the board even mean and, if you’ve ever laid eyes on a racing form, you know it to be true.
Not to worry though, as that’s why we were here.
Let’s have a good, in-depth look at all of your horse race betting options so the next time you step up to the window, you can do so with the confidence you need to make it a successful day at the races.
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Horse Racing Odds Explained
Let’s start simple with the most straightforward wager you can make on a horse race – a Win.
A Win bet is just like any other Moneyline wager in any other sport. You just have to pick who will win the race outright. If the horse wins, you will collect on your wager. The odds you will see listed for each horse are their Win odds.
For example, if a horse shows ‘3’, if you bet him to Win for $2, you will get back $8 or 3 times $2, plus your original $2 bet. This $8 payoff for a $2 bet is shown in the result payoffs under the Win column for the horse when the race is official.
Just as with the Win bet, the Place wager is a bet that a horse will finish in first or second.
The odds here are not as good as with the Win wager as the horse can win the wager with two outcomes. If the horse does finish in one of the top two spots, you will collect the amount shown in the Place column for that horse on the result payoffs for each $2 you have bet.
It is important to remember with horse racing odds that if you make a Place bet, it will not matter if the horse wins or comes in second, you will collect the same amount with either outcome.
This bet has less risk than a Win bet, but also a smaller reward. If you are confident a horse will win the race outright, you will receive a larger return betting the horse to Win than to Place. However, if you need a little insurance, the Place wager is the right call.
Finally, we have the Show bet which is when you want to wager that a horse will finish in the top 3 positions of the race. A $2 bet on a horse to Show, you will collect the amount shown in the Show column for that horse on the results payouts.
Again, just as with a Place wager, if the horse finishes first or second, you will not win any more money than if the horse finishes third. Since this is the safest of all the straight wagers, it also offers the smallest return of all the straight wagers.
Depending on your confidence on your horse, the Show wager provides a good fallback for a horse you are expecting to do well.
Combo Straight Wagers
Across the Board (Win/Place/Show)
The “across the board” wager is a fine example of your ability to place any wager you can think of while at the track.
This wager is the combination of the Win, Place, and Show wagers. So, when you wager on a horse “across the board,” you’re in effect betting on him to Win, Place, and Show giving you several opportunities for a payout.
For example, if the horse was to win, you would collect on all three bets of your wagers.
If the horse finishes 2nd, you would receive the Place and Show payouts. Then, if the horse comes in 3rd, you collect the Show bet only.
At the end of the day, this is actually 3 bets combined which is why a $2 bet “across the board” will cost $6.
There are shorter forms of the “across the board” wager, too. Of course, there are. When it comes to horse racing odds these wagers are just two bet combinations of either Win/Place and Place/Show, respectively and a $2 bet will they cost you $4.
Single Race Exotics
When it comes to playing the “exotics” in horse racing, the Exacta wager is one of the simplest by far.
The Exacta is simply the combination of picking the winning horse as well as the second-place horse, in the correct order. This is a strong wager as it will pay out more than, say, wagering on either of the horses to win or place.
“Boxing” a wager or “to box” a wager in horse racing is used quite often although it isn’t a wager in and of itself.
When playing any single race exotic, you are trying to pick the correct order the horses will finish, such as with an Exacta. If you were to “box” your Exacta, you are essentially picking every order those horses can finish to win the bet.
For example, if you have the 3 and the 7 horse in an Exacta. The 3 needs to Win and the 7 needs to Place.
If you were to box this Exacta, as long as both horses finish in the top 2, you win the bet. Boxing is just shorthand for placing another wager so it will cost you twice as much and payout half the amount listed in the Exacta column.
Similar to the Exacta and to boxing, this wager does not require you to predict the order of the top two horses.
Simply put, the bettor only has to pick the horses which will finish in the top two places, but does not have to predict which of those two will actually win the race.
Since this is easier to predict than an Exacta, it also pays less than the Exacta or boxing. Many racebooks do not even carry this option as most players prefer to simply box the wager and get the same effect. However, it is quite often an option.
The Trifecta is just like an Exacta, but for the top 3 positions in a race.
It requires the bettor to pick the horses, in order, that finish in the top 3. It is much harder to predict than an Exacta, and therefore, pays out much more for a winner. Boxing a Trifecta wager is also available and a very popular option.
Finally, we have the most difficult of all the single race exotics.
The Superfecta wager requires the bettor to predict the first four finishers, in the correct order. If you thought hitting a Trifecta was difficult, predicting a Superfecta is even tougher will always require the bettor to take different combinations of horses so that there are more chances of winning.
The payoff for a Superfecta is rightfully very high and can be a huge payday if you hit it straight. Boxing is also available for the Superfecta and a very popular option as the payouts for such challenging horse racing odds can huge.
Multiple Race Exotics
Finally, there are the Multiple Race Exotics to consider. These wagers allow bettors to pick horse across two or more races. For example, the is the Double which requires a bettor to pick the winners of two races in a row. There are also a Pick 3, Pick 4, and so on. These types of wagers are set by the racebooks so it will vary from track to track, online site to online site.