Posted by Scott
on Jul 31st, 2012 in Sports & Fitness
| 0 comments
Guest Post by Mike Cushing:
It is one of the oldest forms of gambling in the world, and for a while it was the only legal gambling in the United States, but betting on horse racing can seem like a challenge for those who are unfamiliar with the sport. Luckily, you don’t have to be a jockey to have a good time watching this exciting sport. With two big races like Del Mar and Saratoga coming up at the end of summer, now is a perfect time to learn how to place a wager on the ponies. All you need is a little confidence and a few key terms, and you’ll be placing bets with confidence in no time.
- Win – You’re betting on your horse to finish first. You collect if your horse wins.
- Place – Betting your horse will “place” means finishing first or second. It adds a bit of security, with a lower payout. You bet your horse to finish second. If your horse finishes first or second you win.
- Show – You’re betting your horse will finish in in the top three. By hedging your bet, you have a high chance of winning, but with a much lower winning payout.
- Across the Board – An across-the-board bet is three different bets – Win, Place AND Show. A traditional across-the-board bet will cost you $6 (three $2 wagers), and you’ll win if your horse finishes in the top three. If your horse finishes first, you’ll receive win, place and show money. If your horse finishes third, you’ll only get the show money. This is a good bet to avoid, since they’re expensive and have little profit.
- Win-Place/Place-Show – Similar to the across-the-board wager, you’re betting on two possible outcomes. If your horse wins, you’ll get both winning and placing money, and so one for the Place-Show bet. You’re making two wagers in one, so the minimum bet will be $4.
Rather than wagering on multiple outcomes for a single horse, exotic wagers let you bet on multiple horses with a single bet, increasing your potential profit. Exotic wagers can get expensive quickly, since they are harder to win and might require handicapping knowledge (how to pick horses) for each race. It’s probably best to win a few traditional bets before venturing into exotic territory.
- Exacta – You’re picking two horses to finish first and second in that order. A $2 Exacta 6-2 means that horse No. 6 must finish first and No. 2 will finish second. An Exacta box will choose two horses to finish first and second in either order. Since it’s two bets in one, a $2 exacta box 2-6 will cost $4, but if No. 2 and No. 6 both finish in the top two, you’re a winner. Exactas offer a lot of potential profit, and are great once you have more experience handicapping horses.
- Quinella – With a quinella is much like an Exacta box, since you’re choosing on two horses to finish first and second in any order. The key difference is that a quinella will only cost $2, as opposed to $4 for a $2 exacta box, and the payout will generally be lower.
- Trifecta – You can probably guess this one, but with a trifecta you are betting that three horses will finish in first, second and third in that order. A $2 trifecta bet on 4-2-7, will only collect if horse No. 4 finishes first, followed by No. 2 and then No. 7. You can also place a trifecta box so your horses can place in any order, but the cost of your wager will go up significantly. Since there are 6 possible combinations, a $2 trifecta box 4-2-7 will cost you $12.
- Superfecta – Like all the previous bets, but you’re picking the exact order of the top four finishers. You can box a superfecta as well, but remember that it will greatly increase the cost of your wager. Some tracks may offer low minimum superfecta wager amounts to make it more attractive.
Those are the most basic of the exotic wagers, but there are others that may catch your eye once you learn more about handicapping horses for each race. Wagers like the Daily Double or Pick 3 will allow you to pick winners in consecutive races, offering much larger winnings.
Picking Your Ponies
It’s one thing to know the kinds of bets to make, but it’s another to make a bet that isn’t just throwing away your money for a fun day at the track. There are a ton of resources out there for handicapping horses, and fortunes have been made or lost trying to get the inside track on a winning horse. You probably don’t want to bet the farm on your first trip to the track, but here are a few things that will help you pick a winner.
- Study the race program – The program will give you a lot of information, including odds, statistics and history on the horses in each race. The program will also give the performance of the jockey, which can be a good indicator of future success.
- Odds – Betting the odds will usually give you a small, but solid return. The race favorite will typically win 33 percent of the time and will show in more than two-thirds of races.
- Past performance – The program will also tell you how each horse has run on artificial, grass and dirt tracks. Some horses will perform better or worse on certain surfaces, so make a note of the track.
- Go with your gut – Half the fun of any race is the superstitious joy that comes with picking a horse for no good reason at all. If you’ve got a feeling about a horse or if you think the jockey looks good in pink and blue, take a chance and place a bet.
Placing Your Bets
Now that you know what kind of bet to make and which horses to watch, step three is placing your bet without sounding like a rube. If you’re at the track in person, skip the automatic teller and talk to an actual human. The tellers will be fast, accurately record your bet, and will be very helpful to a novice.
When you approach the window, have your money ready to go. Placing your first bet may make you a little nervous, but you’ll be a pro in no time. Here is a useful vocab guide, but this is really all you need to say:
- The amount of your bet (typically a $2)
- Type of bet
- Your horse’s number or numbers
A sample wager would be “$2 exacta on 3 and 7.” Hold on to your ticket to collect your winnings after the race (or to tear up dramatically after a disappointing race).
On race day, fight the temptation to place a wager on every race. Try to pick a few races that you feel really good about and bet only on them. Get a feel for the races before you run over to the teller’s window, and make sure to set a budget so you don’t carried away.
Now, grab your hat, mix a mint julep and get over to the track.
Mike Cushing is a freelance writer for MyFantasyStable.com, the first online fantasy horse racing game.