Horse Racing for Beginners

Horse racing is one of the world’s oldest sports, dating to about 6,500 years ago in the Middle East and ancient Greece with forms of it also taking place during the ancient Olympic Games. It’s likely that people started betting on those races from the early going. Horse racing and betting on the sport then spread around the world. In fact, it has been one of the most betting-friendly events in the United States for some time.

Are you new to horse racing? Take a look at our strategy guide & tips so that you can be ready to make the most of your experience.

Types of Bets

The most important thing to know is what the different types of bets mean. Here are the most common ones.

  • Win. This one is straightforward. If the horse you bet on to “win” does, you also win. Your bet, that is.
  • Place. This is the bet to take if you believe that your horse will finish in the top two places. If it does – it doesn’t matter which one – you also win some money.
  • Show. Same idea but extended one more placement. If your chosen horse finishes anywhere in the top three of the official results, you win your bet.

Meanwhile, if you want to take advantage of betting options that would provide you with a more significant payday should you be successful, consider these bets.

  • Exacta. You pick two horses and specify which one will finish first and which will be second.
  • Trifecta. The exacta extended by a position and, as a result, receiving significantly higher odds. You predict which horse will finish first, which will come in second and which will cross the line third.
  • Superfecta. You predict the first four finishers, in order.
  • Pick 3. You have to accurately predict the winner in three straight races. You must place your bet before the first race starts.
  • Pick 4. If you correctly choose the winner in four straight races, you receive a significant payday.

Another type of bet that many utilize is the quinella. You pick one horse; if it finishes first or second, you win.

How to Bet

When you are speaking to the teller, provide the following information.

-  racetrack, if you’re not on site
-  race number
-  bet amount
-  type of bet
-  number of the horse


Even if you are a beginner, you’re going to want to utilize a strategy guide & tips in order to increase your odds of winning. There is nothing quite like rooting on your chosen horse or horses as they race around the track, possibly on their way to providing you with a significant return on your investment, and you want to be an informed bettor.Perhaps the most important thing that you can do is read the race day program, if available, and research what the participating horses have done in previous races.

The Daily Racing Form is a famous resource for the latter. Even basic information can really help you get a step up on the competition and place a more knowledgeable bet.While looking at previous results, see if a horse that you are considering has recently moved up or down classes. These categories are maiden, claiming, allowance and stakes. Maiden races involve horses who have not won one yet while stakes races involve the best horses. The latter category includes races such as the Triple Crown: the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.

The most important thing to look for when seeing horses changing classes is that if one has repeatedly come in first or second in recent races but those were in a lower class, those high placements are going to be much less likely with the higher level of competition that they would be facing now.

Conversely, a horse that dropped classes will most likely finish in a higher placement at those lower-level races.You will also want to look at how well or how poorly a horse that you are considering has done on certain tracks and in what weather conditions. You might discover a trend where a horse tends to finish quite high on dirt tracks but does not when the surface is artificial or some other useful information.You can also look at who the jockey is. If he or she tends to finish quite high or low regardless of what horse is being ridden, that is something to also consider when deciding which horse to bet on.Lastly, if this option is available to you, consider looking at the horse’s body language in the paddock and before the race. Just like with human athletes, you can often tell how well they will perform based on what body language signs they are giving off immediately prior to the competition. Of course, make sure that you still give yourself enough time to place the bet before the race starts.