Horse Betting Types

by jason

Horse racing has been around for thousands of years, but in the past decade horse racing has become more mainstream due to the internet making it easier to study, research and wager on horse racing. Most US horse bettors wager on thoroughbreds, but there are numerous other popular forms of horse racing that you can wager on and we’re going to teach you about those now.

Horse Racing Betting History

Archaeological research has shown that horse racing has been apart of many ancient cultures. The types of horse racing popular in Ancient Greek and Rome include chariot and mounted horse racing. Throughout history British royalty enjoyed thoroughbred racing and it was given the title “Sport of Kings”. US horse racing dates to 1665 when the Newmarket track was built in NY.

Horse racing in the United States didn’t become organized until much later in 1868, which is when the American Stud Book was initially started. Once horse racing became organized it didn’t take long to grow in popularity. The American Jockey Club started in 1894 and by that point in time there were already over 300 horse racing tracks in the United States.

Betting on horse racing in the USA didn’t become popular until 1908, which is when parimutuel betting was introduced. During WWII horse racing took a dive in popularity for obvious reasons, but the sport has slowly gained popularity again. Horse racing is now extremely popular in countries all over the world and the industry is worth over $100B annually due to wagering.

Throughout history horse racing has been closely tied to the economy because when people aren’t betting at the tracks horse racing doesn’t earn enough revenues to stay afloat. During the past economic downturn many horse racing tracks had to close or suspend meets because they were unable to draw enough interest, but those rough times seem to be beyond us now.

Online betting has also increased track revenues although a lot of action is bet offshore. In recent years licensed US racebooks like Twin Spires has opened up shop making legal US horse betting as simple as possible. Before we send you off betting we’ll make sure you’re educated on the topic and that’s why we’ve detailed the different types of horse racing and betting types.

Popular Types of Horse Racing

There are three popular types of horse racing disciplines including flat racing, steeplechasing and harness racing. If you’re new to horse racing we’re going to describe the three main types of horse racing because you should understand them all.

Flat Racing: This is a form of thoroughbred horse racing that’s popular all over the world. Flat racing is a name given to even (flat) horse races that are run at distances that have been predetermined. Flat racing can be run on a variety of surfaces including grass, dirt and synthetic. Flat racing is popular in the USA, Canada, UK, Europe and Asia.

Steeplechase: Steeplechase racing (AKA National Hunt racing) is popular in the UK, USA, Canada, France, Ireland and Australia. In this type of horse race the horses need to race over numerous obstacles including ditches/fences. By far this type of horse racing is most popular in the UK/Ireland and has actually been dying out in North America.

Harness Racing: Harness horse racing is popular in many countries around the world including the USA, Canada and countries throughout Europe. In North America the only type of horse allowed in this race is a Standardbred while in Europe different types of horses are allowed in the races. Harness racing is offered in two gaits (Trot & Pace).

Endurance Racing: Most horse racing fans don’t know much about endurance racing because it’s never on TV. In this type of horse race the horses need to be able to run long distances although the actual distance varies greatly based on the track/country that you live in.

Quarter Racing: Quarter horse racing has been around for a very long time. A ¼ mile horse track is marked and in the past two horses only would race down the track whereas now tons of horses compete. This race is widely popular in many countries because the short race makes it very competitive and exciting for bettors.

Condition Races: This type of horse race is where each horse in the race is given a specified weight to carry based on the horse’s sex, weight, age and form. All of the biggest horse races in the world are condition races and these types of races always have the biggest purses throughout the UK, North America and Europe.

Handicap Races: In this type of horse race a professional handicap grades each horse in the race and assigns each of the horses a specified weight to carry during the race. The best horses in the field will need to carry more weight and the idea begin handicap races is to make them as fair as possible based on recent form.

Types of Horse Bets

Now that bettors have some general horse betting history and understand the different types of horse racing it’s time to learn the different types of horse bets that you can make at online sportsbooks. The list below details the majority of horse bets that you can make at a racebook, but to find out more detail about each bet you should follow the green buttons on this page.

Win Bet: This type of bet is also known as a straight bet and all you need to do is predict the winner of a race.

Place Bet: The horse you select to place needs to finish in 1st or 2nd place in order to win this wager.

Show Bet: The show bet is a wager where you simply need to pick a horse to finish in 1st, 2nd or 3rd place in a race.

Pick 3 & Pick 6: These two bets are the exact same minus one slight detail. With a Pick 3 bet you need to pick the winner of 3 consecutive races while in a Pick 6 bet you need to pick the winner of 6 consecutive races.

Daily Double: The racetrack will select two races to represent the “Daily Double” and your goal is to predict the winner of the two races to win a percentage of the overall prize pool for that day.

Exacta: This bet is also known as a Perfecta and your goal is to select two horses in 1 race to finish in 1st and 2nd place in the exact order, which means you need to pick what horse will win 1st and then what horse will win 2nd.

Quinella: This horse bet is where you have to select two horses from a single race, but with the Quinella your picks can finish in any order and you still win the bet, but the payout is smaller than an exacta obviously.

Trifecta & Boxed Trifecta: With the Trifecta you need to select 3 horses in the exact order (1st, 2nd & 3rd), but you can also bet on the Trifecta Box, which boxes your three picks so that they can finish in any order.

Superfecta: The most difficult single race bet to try and win is the Superfecta because you need to try and select the top 4 horses in the exact order. You can also box this bet, but it will cost considerably more to box this bet.

Parlays: Most online racebooks also allow you to parlay your win picks and show picks. Betfair for instance has E/W parlays (Win/Show) that you can bet on and they offer extremely massive payouts if you string a few wins together.

Across the Board: This is a name given to a win/place/show wager, which is a combination of three straight bets that we’ve talked about above. If you do a $2 across the board bet it’ll cost $6 total and will equate to 3 separate wagers.

We’ve provided new bettors with a nice introduction into the horse racing markets. We’ve talked about many of the horse bets listed above in more detail, so make sure you follow the links above and read through each bet to learn some strategy. You’d be surprised how many bettors have no clue about most of the bets listed above and that limits their potential profits immensely.

While we advise bettors to become familiar with a single type of horse racing initially, it’s always a good idea to learn about the less popular forms of horse racing because those betting markets are much less efficient. The potential for profit in the more obscure horse races is much better than in the races that have international media attention.

The problem with smaller races is that trying to find information on them is a tough job from the internet. Many racebooks still don’t cover the small horse tracks in North America, but the coverage in the UK is much better. Regardless of where you live you can bet on horse races just about every single day of the year, which is one of the reasons why horse racing is so popular.