Horse racing has been a favorite pastime for fans throughout the world for decades. The pageantry and beauty of the sport have been a major draw. Still, it’s the opportunity to bet on horses and subsequently win tons of money that has made the “Sport of Kings” popular both online and at the actual racing venues.
Online horse players enjoy the benefit of having unfettered access to horse races from at least six continents. Everyday, online bookmakers and dedicated horse racing sites offer hundreds of races combined from top horse racing venues in Europe (England, Ireland, France), Asia (Australia, Japan, Hong Kong), South Africa, South America (Chile, Argentina), Middle East (Saudi Arabia) and North America (US and Canada). These races often feature the top horses, trainers, owners and jockeys in the world. With millions of dollars on the line every day, the competition is fierce and exciting. For the online horse player, the opportunities to make serious profits are seemingly unlimited.
Types of Horse Racing
For wagering purposes, there are four general types of horse races one might encounter. In order of popularity:
- Thoroughbred – These types of races are typically run from 5/8 of a mile, all the way up to 2 miles or more. In some cases, they may be run over hurdles where the participating horses are required to jump over fences strategically placed around the racecourse. Popular all over the world
- Harness – These types of races are designated for standardbreds, which are required to pull a sulky (buggy) and driver over distances of 1 mile up to 2 miles. Popular in Canada, France and the US.
- Quarter horse – Quarter horses are built for speed. These types of races are run over distances of 220 yards up to 870 yards. In many venues, thoroughbreds are also permitted to compete against quarter horses in designated races. Popular in the US.
- Arabian – Smaller horses with cropped tails, Arabians can race over distances of 300 yards, all the way up to two miles. Popular in Saudi Arabia and parts of the US.
Prior to placing that very first wager, a new horse player needs to have some knowledge about the types of wagers that are available. Each type comes with an inherent risk and corresponding potential reward. While there are literally dozens of different types of wagers one might encounter, we thought a quick index referencing the most basic types of wagers could be very helpful.
- Win – The selected horse must win the race without disqualification
- Place – The selected horse must finish first or second without disqualification
- Show – The selected horse must finish first, second or third without disqualification
- Exacta – The selected horses must finish first and second in the exact order of the wager
- Quinella – The selected horses must finish first and second in any order
- Trifecta – The selected horses must finish first, second and third in exact order of the wager
- Superfecta – The selected horses must finish first, second, third and fourth in the exact order of the wager
- Omni Swinger – Two of the selected horses must finish first, second or third in any order
- Daily Double – Select the winner of two consecutive races
- Pick 3 – Select the winner of three consecutive races
- Pick 4 – Select the winner of four consecutive races
- Pick 5 – Select the winner of five consecutive wagers
- Pic 6 – Select the winner of six consecutive races
Aside from win/place and show wagers, all other wagers are referred to as exotic wagers. As a rule of thumb, the more horses or races involved in a wager would be riskier, offering lucrative rewards on winning wagers.
Selecting the Best Online Horse Racing Site
Online horse players can bet on horse races from two primary sources, dedicated horse racing betting sites like DRF Bets and Twin Spires or with a great majority of the online bookmaking sites. While both sources offer benefits, bookmakers tend to offer horse players more value in the form of bonuses and betting promotions.
With dedicated horse racing betting sites, most betting in done through pari-mutual pools where all bets are accumulated, a takeout % is removed for horse racing providers and the remaining funds distributed among winning tickets. The odds are determined by the proportionate amounts wagered on each outcome.
Online bookmakers also participate in pari-mutual pools, though in many cases, the funds bet through the bookmakers are not included in the pool. This is referred to as pure bookmaking. Online bookmakers are also known to offer fixed-odds wagering where the player gets the odds offered at the time they made their bet.
The choice between pari-mutual and fixed-odds betting is something a horse player should consider when deciding on an online bookmaker for betting horses. From a competitive standpoint, some online bookmakers might offer slightly better fixed-odds than others in an effort to draw customers. It makes perfect sense for an online horse player to maintain accounts with two or more bookmakers, allowing the horse player an opportunity to shop for the best fixed-odds price available.
In recent years, horse racing has been made available through betting exchanges like Betfair. Betting exchanges allow horse players to become bookies, posting their own fixed-odds on a given horse with the hope they can find other horse players who will accept the wager. Both the risks and rewards are higher.
The better online horse betting operations are the ones that offer the most races with viewing opportunities (streaming) and the most comprehensive wagering pad. All things being equal, the astute horse player is going to choose the websites that offer the best bonuses and betting promotions. Its common for both dedicated horse racing sites and online bookmakers to offer a signup bonus with certain restrictions. Free money and/or bets is a great way for a novice horse player to get started.
More experienced horse players prefer betting promotions, which are unique to online bookmakers. The most popular betting promotions offer rebates on losing bets, boosted odds, special wagering opportunities and entries into wagering contests with lucrative prizes. Prior to accepting any offer, it’s incumbent on the player to understand and comply with all the offer’s terms and conditions.