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How to Bet on Horse Racing: 5 Tips and Strategies

by June 10, 2020

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A small percentage of sports bettors only get involved in horse racing during the Triple Crown races. However, the amount of money wagered on horse racing each year suggests there are “regulars” who bet races year-round. Whether you are an infrequent bettor making a wager from an online account or an avid bettor showing up in person at the racetrack often, all of us can benefit from some form of betting advice.

In this article, we discuss five tips and strategies to help become a more successful horse racing bettor.

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Dissect the Racing Program

With other sports, many bettors will rely on the eye test when making wagers. These bettors argue they have seen teams play many times, and can, therefore, predict the outcomes of their next games.

In horse racing, witnessing every horse’s prior races is nearly impossible. There are too many horses in too many locations to be confident in comparing horses around the country. Thus, racing programs should be viewed as a bettor’s Holy Grail and the source of all relevant information.

Whether you are watching live at a racetrack or betting from home, one should completely dissect the racing program for each race. The program contains all pertinent information like recent racing history, speeds, and times at various lengths and other invaluable race information. Thus, bettors that may not know anything about a horse coming into the day can quickly formulate an opinion of a horse from these statistics.

One of the things I look at first is the amount of recent top-three finishes. If a horse is not consistently “hitting the board”, they are not a reliable bet in most cases.

Identify Your Main Races

This idea goes hand-in-hand with dissecting the racing program for pertinent information. Set aside enough time to scour all the races in a program for the day. You do not want to miss out on a race you would feel most confident in just because the post time is later in the day.

Thus, keep a log in order of confidence for each of your races. If you do not have the time to stick around the racetrack or go back to your mobile betting account, later on, you can always place your wagers for future races earlier in the day.

Vary Your Bets

Every bettor should have a realistic goal in mind when they begin a day of horse racing betting. “Realistic” is the keyword here. Many bettors will tell you they are looking to make a big score. However, one only stands to win so much by betting $2 on a horse to win each race.

In accordance with identifying your most confident races, there is an opportunity to vary your bets and cash in on some better odds. For example, suppose of all races you are most confident of the #7 horse to win the fourth race. In this case, one could look into pairing this horse with other horses and betting an exacta or trifecta. Conversely, if there is a favorite in another race that looks vulnerable, that is a great opportunity to find more of a longshot to win and return a decent payout.

For my money, I avoid “place” and “show” bets. Though these bets are safer, they do not return enough money, in the long run, to make them worth it. If I am betting a single horse, it will always be to win. However, I will always have a good mix of “exotic” bets on my card as well.

Stick to Your Betting Plan

You have read the entire racing program and identified the races you are most confident in. Now, the hardest part is sticking to your original plan.

Suppose the races you were most confident in early in the day did not go your way. Do not be tempted to chase your lost money and bet bigger on races you are not as confident about.

Likewise, do not blow all of your early winnings in bets that you would not have made if you were not already ahead. Every bettor needs to adhere to a strict budget. There are many bettors who are confident in a later race but cannot wager on it because they have lost all their money beforehand.

You Do Not Have to Bet Every Race

If you have ever attended a track in person, you know there is a lot of downtime between races. Often times, there can be as many as 30 minutes from the time one race ends until the next begins. Thus, a lot of bettors get themselves into trouble by curing their boredom with off-track betting (OTB). They do not have the time to adequately research an OTB race, and will just place a bet based on odds.

Do not place a wager on a race you have not studied. Even if you are not tempted by OTB, it is more than fine to sit out a race at your local track. Stick to what you are confident in and have the patience to wait for your races. An exercise that can be helpful is to place a hypothetical bet on a race you are sitting out. Keep a log of these bets, and maybe you can learn something from the races you sit out and apply those strategies to the races you wager on.

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Mike Spector is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeSpector01.

Betting 101, Betting Tips, Horse Racing, How-To