Horse Racing

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Check out our detailed horse racing betting guide, which explains how to read odds, how to pick a horse, the type of bets you can choose from, how to place a bet at an online racebook and much more.

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This page allows you to check out the horse racing odds at all the leading sportsbooks in the business. A race instantly becomes a thrilling spectacle when you have money riding on the outcome, but the world of horse race betting can be confusing to newcomers. We have therefore compiled this handy guide, explaining how to read horse racing betting odds and breaking down the various wagering options available to you.

The odds compilers at the leading sportsbooks will analyze the relative strengths and weaknesses of each horse scheduled to compete in a specific race. They will factor in recent results, age, conditioning, official ranking, performances at that specific track, jockey and trainer data, days since the horse last raced, and stall position. Once this process is complete, they will assign a set of odds to each of the horses.
You will see a favorite or joint favorites when looking at a horse racing odds chart. The sportsbook believes these horses have the best chance of winning the race. The odds on the subsequent horses listed on the card will then grow progressively longer until you reach the rank outsider. This horse is considered to have the smallest chance of success in the race. Favorites are said to carry short odds, while underdogs are assigned long odds.
These horse betting odds often change in the build-up to the race. This is generally a result of the amount of action placed on each horse – if one runner proves very popular with the betting public, the odds on it will shorten; if few people bet on a horse, its odds will generally lengthen – but other factors cause horse odds to change. For instance, if a horse wins the Kentucky Derby you can expect its Preakness odds and Belmont Stakes odds to shrink drastically.

Odds are generally displayed in three different ways: American odds, decimal odds and fractional odds. When it comes to horse races, the vast majority of racebooks opt for fractional odds. You will see a number, followed by a backslash and then another number. These numbers tell you the amount of profit you stand to earn by betting on that horse to win the race. The number on the left of the backslash tells you the amount you would win if you laid down the amount on the right of the backslash.
For example, you might see a horse priced at 5/1 to win a particular race. These are also known as 5 to 1 odds. It tells you that for every $1 you wager, you stand to win $5 if the horse wins. A $1 bet at 5/1 would therefore earn you a $5 profit. Your stake is returned to you when your bet is a winner, so your total return in this case would be $6. If you were to bet $10 at 5/1 and the horse won the race, you would make a $50 profit. If you bet $20, your profit would be $100, and so on.
Another example would be odds of 5/2, also known as 5 to 2 or 5 2 odds. In this case, you would win $5 for every $2 you staked. A $2 wager at 5/2 would therefore net you a $5 profit if the horse romped to victory. Your stake is handed back to you too, so you would receive a return of $7. If you bet $10 at 5/2, you would make a $25 profit. If you bet $20, your profit would be $70, and so on.
Sometimes a horse will be odds-on. That means the sportsbooks think it has a strong chance of winning the race. When a horse is odds-on, the number to the right of the backslash will be greater than the number on the left. For example, you might see a favorite priced at 4/5 and wonder how to calculate a 4/5 odds payout. It simply means that for every $5 you bet, you stand to win $4 if the horse is successful. A $5 bet at 4/5 would therefore earn you a profit of $4. As you get your stake back, your total return is $9. If you were to bet $20 at 4/5, you would earn a $16 profit if successful.

American odds are popular when it comes to football, basketball, baseball and hockey, but less common on racing. Horse betting sites sometimes show American odds though, so it is worth understanding how they work. In American odds, 5/1 becomes +500. It tells you that you will earn a $500 profit by betting $100. You are certainly not obliged to wager $100. This is just a guide. A $10 bet at +500 would earn you a $50 profit if successful.
If a horse is odds-on, this is rendered in negative odds in an American-style format. Fractional odds on 4/5 would become -125. This tells you that you need to wager $125 in order to make a $100 profit. The concept is exactly the same as fractional odds: if you bet $20 at -125, you earn a $16 profit if successful. American odds just focus on either earning a $100 profit, or the amount you stand to earn from a $100 bet, as a guideline.
You might also see decimal odds. If you want to know how to read betting odds, a grasp of decimal odds is also useful. Fractional odds of 5/1 become 6.00 in decimal odds. That is because the decimal odds factor in the return of your stake. They tell you the return you can expect to receive if successful, rather than the profit you stand to make. You simply multiply your stake by that figure. A $10 bet at 6.00 earns you a return of $60 ($50 profit and your $10 stake back). Fractional odds of 4/5 become 1.80, so a $20 bet at 1.80 earns you a return of $36 (profit of $16 and your $20 stake back).

You have a huge range of classic and exotic wagering options at your disposal when you decide to bet on horse racing:

Win – this is a straightforward wager on the horse that will finish first in a race. Win bets are also referred to as straight bets. It is the most common way to bet on horses racing.

Place – a wager on a horse finishing either first or second in a race. It does not pay as much as a win bet, but it is obviously easier to succeed with this wager.

Show – a bet on a horse finishing either first, second or third in a race. Show bets pay less than place bets, and they are often used on long shots. You would rarely opt for a show bet in a horse with 3 to 1 odds, for instance.

Across the Board – this wager comprises three bets: one on the win, one on the place and another on the show.

Exacta – a prediction on the horse that will win the race and the horse that will finish second. You must specify in exact order in which they will finish. Exactas are among the most popular exotic bets on racing, and the horse racing odds payouts on exactas are determined by the pari-mutuel betting system.

Quinella – pick two horses and they must finish first and second in any order. Check out the tote board at tracks like Arroyo in New Mexico to see the payout pool.

Trifecta – a wager on the horse that will win, the horse that will finish second and the horse that will finish third. Trifectas are difficult to pull off, but you will be rewarded with large payouts if successful.

Superfecta – this requires you to choose four runners. You must pick the winner, runner-up, third-placed horse and fourth-placed horse. You must specify the exact order in which the four runners will finish, so it is another tricky wager, but it carries huge potential rewards.

Box Wager – this allows you to box a number of horses together and create different combinations of exactas or trifectas within that box.

Wheel Wager – this wager is also known as a key box or a key wager. It allows you to select one key horse and place numerous wagers on it beating all the other runners in the field or in the box.

Pick 6 – a parlay-style wager that requires you to pick the winner of the first six races on a given day at a particular track. It is fiendishly difficult to achieve, but you will be rewarded with a lot of money if you can pull it off.

There are hundreds of different online sports betting sites vying for your attention and it can be difficult to know which operators to trust. Most of them offer a racebook, and a lot of them cover all the leading tracks in America and further afield. When it comes to US racing, the odds are determined by the track. Your money goes into a pool, the track and the books take their cut, and the rest of the pool is divided among bettors with winning tickets.
Horse bet payouts are determined by this pari-mutuel system. You therefore do not need to shop around for horse racing best odds when it comes to US races. Just check the morning line, monitor the changing odds and live horse racing odds, and place your win bets or exotics. However, in other countries the bookies set the odds and you can find more attractive prices by shopping around, so it can pay to compare odds in those cases.
The main concern for bettors is finding a reputable, reliable racebook that will pay you out on time and in full. We only recommend legit, safe books that have earned a strong rating in our sportsbooks review guide . Most of our A+ and A rated sportsbooks cover racing, so be sure to stick with those sites and avoid the disreputable operators. If you feel you may have a gambling problem, contact the racebook to discuss options such as self-exclusion and a time out. Now that you have read our guide to horse racing odds explained, check out the Kentucky Derby odds and the action at your local track, and get involved in the action.


It will pay $12 for every $1 you wager. A $10 bet would therefore net you a profit of $120 if successful. Your stake will also be returned if the horse wins, so your total return would be $130.

This is another way of writing 7/2. It tells you that you stand to win a $7 profit for every $2 you wager. A $10 bet at odds of 7/2 would therefore earn you a $35 profit if the horse went on to win the race.

Odds of 9 to 5 mean that you stand to make a $9 profit for every $5 you wager. A $10 bet at odds of 9/5 would therefore net you an $18 profit. You also get your stake back if the horse wins, so your total return would be $28.

You will always see a favorite or joint favorites when looking at the odds on a particular horse race. The odds will grow progressively longer on each horse until you reach the rank outsider. The temptation is always to bet on the favorite, but favorites often lose. If you only ever bet on the favorite, you would expect to incur a loss over time. Try to identify which horses really deserve that favorite status, and which favorites are likely to be beaten. Horses with odds of 5/1 or greater are often appealing when you are interested in a place or show wager.

Fractional odds tell you the profit you stand to make based on the amount you stake. The number on the left of the slash is how much you will win by staking the number on the right. A $1 bet at 10/1 therefore earns you a $10 profit if successful.