How and where to bet on Thoroughbred Horse Racing
Luis Saez riding Maximum Security, second from right, goes around turn four with Flavien Prat riding Country House, left, Tyler Gaffalione riding War of Will and John Velazquez riding Code of Honor, right, during the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 4, 2019, in Louisville, Ky.John Minchillo | Associated Press

How and where to bet on Thoroughbred Horse Racing

Where to bet horse racing online:

1. NYRA Bets - NYRA Bets is run by the New York Racing Association. It is available for use in 30 states including New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. If you’re a new user and sign up with this link you will get a $200 New Member Bonus if you bet $200 in your first 14 days.

2. TwinSpires - Twinspires is run by Churchill Downs. It is also available for use in 30 states. If you sign up with this link all new users will get $100 bonus!

How to Bet:

Horse racing works on a pari-mutuel system (the house takes a little of every bet) so unlike betting on other sports, it has no stake in the outcome. As long as people wager, the track makes money.

Traditional betting involves WIN (1st), PLACE (2nd) and SHOW (3rd). You can also pick horses to win and place, win and show, place and show and win, place and show.

The standard race bet minimum is most often $2. Some tracks will let you bet $1 or a $1 exacta or a $.10 superfecta.

“Exotic” Bets:

An EXACTA is betting the first two horses in order of finish. So if the race ends 7-4, you have to bet a 7-4 exacta.

With an EXACTA BOX you can pick 4-7 or 4-7-9 or any combination as long as you have the two horses that finish first and second. Exacta Box tickets cost more based on the number of combinations.

A TRIFECTA is betting the first three horses in order of finish. So if the race ends 7-4-1, you have to bet a 7-4-1 trifecta.
With a TRIFECTA BOX you can pick 4-7-1 or 1-4-7-9 or any combination as long as you have the three horses that finish first, second and third. Trifecta Box tickets cost more based on the number of combinations.

A SUPERFECTA and SUPERFECTA BOX work the same way except you must pick the first four horses in order of finish.

If a race has a small field of horses running, there may not be as many betting options.

The DAILY DOUBLE is picking the winner of the first race and the winner of the second race. Some tracks offer more than one Daily Double on their cards.

Depending on the track, there are also Pick3, Pick4, Pick5 and Pick6 bets, which requires you to pick the winners in that number of races. It’s very hard. But throw in a longshot or two and the payouts can be very big. Some tracks roll over these bets if no one wins.

Because you can bet virtually any race anywhere on your phone or at any racetrack, there are also Pick5 bets which force you to pick winners at multiple tracks.


Colts are male horses under the age of 4. Older males are just called horses. Geldings are male horses who’ve been castrated.

Fillys are female horses under the age of 4. Older female horses are called Mares.

The female horses don’t usually run against the male horses but it happens from time to time and some great female horses beat the male horses.

Race lengths and surfaces:

Races are generally run on dirt, grass or some synthetic surface. Some horses excel on one more than the other. Weather affects all types of surfaces differently and some horses run well when the ground is hard and others when it’s wet and sloppy.

Sprints are considered races up to 7 furlongs. A furlong is an 1/8th of a mile. Route races are a mile and up. Very few races in America are run longer than a mile-and-a-half (the length of the Belmont). Races in Europe are occasionally longer.

Types of races:

There are all types of horses races meant to ensure fair racing between horses of all abilities.

To be brief:
Maiden Races are for horses who haven’t won a race. They tend to be for younger horses who could be good (Maiden Special Weight) or horses who are not very fast (Maiden Claiming). In horse racing male horses can be maidens.
Claiming Races are for the least able horses, or horses that haven’t found their form yet, or horses that owners are trying to move. Want to buy a cheap racehorse. Go to a small track and put in a bid for the horse before the race starts. At the end of the race, you’re going to on a horse. The better the track (the higher the purses) the higher the prices on the claimers.

Allowance Races are the next rung up and can involve some horses getting a break on weight to give them a better chance to win. Remember, the track wants competitive races. Secretariat winning by 31 lengths is nice once in awhile, but horses coming down the stretch neck-and-neck makes for more excitement.
Stakes Races are for the fastest, toughest, most competitive horses.

Graded Stakes Races are for the best horses of all. The Triple Crown races, among others, are Graded Stakes races.

Now, go have some fun and win some money.

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