Horse racing is an intense and entertaining sport that works so well with betting. It’s an exhilarating experience to watch your horse come down to the wire in a close call or bounce back from a slow start to win the competition.
The best horse racing sites provide bettors with a chance to place a wager on tracks across the world. Whether you want to have action on a Triple Crown race or looking for some entertainment on a weekday race, you can access this with a click of a few buttons.
This makes the odds comparison tool vital for your success in this venture. Since there are so many races, you can find discrepancies between odds, giving you an opportunity to secure more value on your wager.
Horse Racing Odds Explained
Horse racing odds can seem challenging to understand, especially with so many bet types, but we’ll break it down for you.
We’ll begin by explaining how the payout structure is determined.
Wagering is done using a pari-mutuel system, which translates to “wagering between ourselves.” How this works is the odds are figured out by how many total wagers are placed in a given race. The track takes a certain percentage for overhead costs, while the remaining funds are allocated for payouts.
Let’s imagine that a race has $100,000 in cumulative wagers. The track takes 18% of this number for a total of $18,000. That means that there is $82,000 in the prize pool. The most popular horse, that is the one with the most money wagered on it, becomes the favorite for the race.
In this example, if the favorite has $27,000 in bets placed, it would have 2-to-1 odds. This is because the payout is calculated through $2 wagers, so you divide $27,000 by two to get $13,500. From there, you divide $82,000 by $13,500 to get $6.07. On a $2 bet, if it returned $6.07, that means you’d get $4 in profit, which is double your stake, hence the 2-to-1 odds.
Let’s dive in by providing an explanation of each bet type.
There are three traditional bet types:
- Win: Choose the winner of the race.
- Place: Your horse can finish 1st or 2nd.
- Show: You win if your horse comes in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd.
Each horse has odds to win the race. Choosing the correct winner has the highest payout out of these three wagers, followed by Place and then Show. For example, if I correctly bet $100 on a horse with 4-to-1 odds (+400 moneyline) to win the race, I would get $400.
Calculating your payout for the other two bet types is a bit more complicated. To find out how much you’ll get if you took Place, you need to know how much money was wagered on the two horses that finished 1st and 2nd.
For example, let’s say that $6,000 was bet on Horse A and $12,000 on Horse B. Imagine that there was $22,000 in the betting pool. We subtract that total from the money wagered on Horse A and Horse B: $22,000 – $12,000 – $6,000 to get $4,000.
We divide this number by two to get $2,000. Next, we divide $2,000 by the money on Horse A and Horse B. This gives us $0.33 for Horse A and $0.16 on Horse B (always round down). Last, we multiply each of these numbers by two and add it to $2 (if it were a $2 bet). That gives us $2.66 for Horse A and $2.32 for Horse B. This means that if you bet $2 on Horse A to Place, you would get $2.66.
It’s a similar formula for calculating the Show payout, but this time you find out how much was bet on the top three horses instead 1st and 2nd. You also need to divide it by three instead of two, since there are three horses in this scenario.
You’re also to play it safe by choosing the following option:
- Win, Place, or Show: Your horse must finish 1st, 2nd, or 3rd
This is known as an “across the board” wager. If your horse finishes 1st, you get the Win, Place, or Show payout. If they come in 2nd, you just get the Place or Show winnings. A third-place finish just gets you the Show profit.
The probability of getting some kind of payout is higher with this bet. The problem is that it can get expensive, as you’re putting funds on three separate outcomes: Win, Place, or Show. Let’s say that you wanted to win $10, you would need to stake $30 because you’re covering the cost of three wagers.
There are even exotic bet types that you can enjoy:
- Exacta: Select the correct 1st and 2nd-place horses.
- Trifecta: Pick the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-place horses.
- Superfecta: You need to place the top-four horses in the correct order.
These are much more difficult to win, which means that they provide larger payouts. You won’t know the exact number of potential winnings until the entire betting pool ($) is determined.
However, you can project your potential winnings based on the odds of each of your selections winning the race. For example, if you have the heavy favorite as 1st in your Exacta, your payout would be smaller compared to someone who had a major underdog in first place. The same goes for Trifectas and Superfectas.
You can also put in multi-race wagers.
- Double: Determine the winners in two straight races.
- Pick 3: Pick the winners in three consecutive races.
- Pick 4: Choose the winning horses in four races in a row.
- Pick 5: Get the first place horses in five straight races.
- Pick 6: Go 6-for-6 with the outright winner in each race.
- Grand Slam: Select a horse to show in three consecutive races, then pick the winner in the fourth one.
These types of bets require you to place multiple wagers, depending on your selection. For example, if I bet $2 on Horse 1, 4, and 7 to win three races in my Pick 3, I would risk $6 because it’s three separate $2 bets. The payout is larger in this bet type because the probability is lower.
Finding the Best Horse Racing Betting Lines
Finding the best horse racing betting lines are a bit different than other markets because the odds are determined by the percentage of total bets placed on each horse.
You can start by checking out the Morning Lines, which are the opening odds set by a handicapper hired by the track, who determines the lines based on where they predict the money will go. It doesn’t necessarily reflect which horse is most likely to win the race, but generally, the most popular horse is the one perceived to have the greatest chance to win.
The morning lines are a good starting point because the oddsmaker has a good idea about each horse. From there, you need to monitor line movement to see where the public is putting their money.
If you notice that a horse has shot up in odds, it could be that the public believed that the morning line was underpriced, so they put their money on that particular horse.
Doing your research in knowing a horse’s recent performance history along with track conditions can be a great way to find value on the morning lines before the market adjusts to any potential misprices. At the same time, you need to recognize that the oddsmakers are usually sharp, so we should also respect the morning line as well.
Once the morning lines have been set, now is your chance to monitor any potential movement at multiple horse racing betting sites.
Finding the Best Horse Racing Lines at US Betting Sites
Your next step would be to shop around for the best odds across multiple horse betting sites. You want to find the best value, so any odds discrepancy is notable.
For example, let’s say that a horse is listed as 5/1 (+500) at one site, but 9/2 (+450) at another operator. That extra 50 cents amounts to $50 on a $100 wager.
If you’re able to repeatedly find small advantages like this, it would be highly beneficial to your bankroll in the long run.
You also have the opportunity to find closing line value (CLV) when betting on horses, a process that is made easier when choosing a betting site. The odds can change drastically over the course of the day as more money filters in on specific horses.
If you’re able to identify a horse that is underpriced on the morning lines, you should pounce immediately because the line can change quickly. For example, let’s say that you think a horse deserves to be 10/1 (+1000) based on their recent history, but they opened at 14/1 (+1400).
You could see the market adjust to that discrepancy and move the line to 11/1 (+1100) by the time the race starts. By checking the morning line early, you were able to get an additional +300 in value.
On the other hand, you can go an alternative route by taking a reactive approach. You can look at the morning lines and see how the odds move based on the market. For example, if you notice that a horse opened at 7/1 (+700) but is now 5/2 (+350), that could be a horse worth targeting. There’s often a good reason why there is significant line movement, so basing your picks on this factor can be a good strategy.
The best way to implement this approach is by signing up for multiple betting sites. This allows you to consistently monitor the odds as we get closer to the race. You wouldn’t be able to check this as efficiently while betting at the track.
Best Sportsbooks with Horse Racing Odds
TwinSpires Horse Racing
Owned and operated by Churchill Downs, hosts of the famed Kentucky Derby, TwinSpires is one of the leading platforms in the horse racing betting industry.
You’ll find sharp odds that align with the market along with useful promotions to get you off to a strong start or provide insurance on your wagers.
There are also perks that you can obtain through the site’s robust VIP rewards system.
DRF Horse Racing
Daily Racing Form (DRF) is another one of the most popular and reputable brands in this space. You can feel comfortable depositing funds into your account on a platform that has been around for over 100 years.
The site provides you with helpful handicapping tips that can guide you towards your selection in any given horse race.
It’s a platform that gives you odds that go along with the rest of the market, so be sure to have DRF part of your portfolio.
TVG is run by FanDuel Group, which operates one of the best platforms in sports betting and daily fantasy sports. It’s a safe and legitimate site where you can feel secure at all times.
Customer support is available on multiple platforms, making it easy to resolve any potential issues. You’ll be able to place wagers on dozens of races across the world on any given day.
Choose TVG to find some of the best odds on the market.
How to Sign Up to an Online Sportsbook
Signing up for a horse racing site is an easy process. You’ll find the steps below.
- Step 1 – Click the icon: Pick the site that you want and click the icon at The Game Day. This will bring you to the site’s landing page.
- Step 2 – Register for an account: Input your personal information, including name, address, and more. Wait for an email confirmation.
- Step 3 – Deposit funds: Deposit funds into your account using one of the many banking methods provided by the site, including debit/credit cards, eWallets, ACH transfers, and more.
- Step 4 – Place your bets: You’re now ready to take a look at the board and place your wager!
Make sure to make an account at multiple sites because this allows you to shop for the best odds while taking advantage of any welcome bonuses, such as first-deposit matches.
This is a new-player offer where the site matches your first deposit up to a maximum amount. You can then use these bet credits to continue to build your bankroll.
Try your best to max out these offers because they can only be used once. Be sure to read the terms and conditions so that you understand any wagering requirements involved with the bonus.