Horse Betting Online

Written by: Joseph Falchetti, Editor-in-Chief, Pro Sports Bettor and Casino Expert
Last updated:
7 minute read

Betting on horses is one of the oldest forms of sports gambling. Though it’s lost some of its following in recent decades, everyone still seems to tune in and bet on the Triple Crown. When the UIGEA was passed back in 2006 which curtailed online casino and poker gambling in the United States – you can rest assured that would have never seen the house floor if it mentioned horse racing. Online betting on horse racing is as American as apple pie and Chevrolet.

Our in-depth guide to horse betting online will give you all of the information you need to make smart wagers, and the best sites you can find horse racing odds and lines. Get to know what the different horse race bets are, a popular calculator to figure out your possible winnings, and the tips for making smart choices.

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As mentioned above, betting horse races online can be done at pretty much every hour of the day, for most of the year. However, there are a few significant races that are held each year that garner far more interest and betting handle, than the others, with the United States Triple Crown being the most prominent.

Kentucky Derby betting

Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is held the first Saturday in May in Louisville, Kentucky. It’s known by many as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports.” The Derby is the first leg of the American Triple Crown, ahead of the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.

Preakness Stakes betting

The Preakness Stakes

The Preakness is held on the third Saturday of May each year at Pimlico Downs in Baltimore, Maryland. It’s held two weeks after the Kentucky Derby and three weeks before the final race of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes.

Belmont Stakes betting

Belmont Stakes

The Belmont Stakes is held in June at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. It’s the third and final leg of the Triple Crown. The winner of the 1973 Belmont Stakes and Triple Crown winner, Secretariat holds the record for the mile and half stakes record of 2:24.

Breeders' Cup Betting

Breeders’ Cup

The Breeders’ Cup is held in the first week of November. Horses that would normally race at odds of 2-to-1 (+200) in other races may have odds of 5-to-1 (+500) or higher, depending on the race.

Of course, there are other prominent races worldwide and in the United States. The Royal Ascot, Dubai World Cup, The Grand National, and Melbourne Cup are some of the most highly bet races each year.

Online Betting On The Triple Crown

Triple Crown Horse Racing

The Kentucky Derby marks the start of the Triple Crown and has been running every year since 1875. In most cases, it’s the most widely watched race in the Triple Crown series and has the highest betting handle. Even those who have little or no interest in horse racing have heard of the Kentucky Derby.

The next race in the Triple Crown series is the Preakness Stakes. It is an American flat thoroughbred horse race held on the third Saturday in May at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. The race has been named “The Run for the Black-Eyed Susans” because of a blanket of yellow flowers that are placed around the winner’s neck.

The Belmont Stakes, the last of the Triple Crown races, is an American Grade I stakes Thoroughbred horse race held every June at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. The race has a nickname of “The Test of the Champion”, and “The Run for the Carnations”. Each of these races presents itself with an opportunity to place online bets. Our recommended online sportsbooks will have the odds plus a variety of prop bets for you take full advantage. In addition to each race in the series, you can wage on what horse will win the Triple Crown.

How To Bet On Horse Racing Online

Online betting on the ponies is a bit different than betting sports, but the concepts are still similar. Most of the time, bettors are wagering on a side or total, using a point spread when betting sports online, but that isn’t the case when betting on horses. Horse racing betting strategy will be different compared to sports betting. However, the basics of horse racing betting online are the same as betting sports.

  1. Choose A Sportsbook that Offers Horse Betting – Most online sportsbooks do offer horse racing as part of their betting menu. It won’t be listed in the sports betting section, but instead in the top navigation betting that usually says “horses.” If betting horses is a must for you, be sure to check that the betting site offers those markets before depositing.
  2. Choose a Race – Just like other forms of sports betting, horse bettors are in the golden age of wagering. Before you can pick your hose, you must choose the race you want to bet. Horse races these days are going on around the clock in over a dozen countries around the world. No matter the hour there should always be a race to bet on if you’re horse racing betting online.
  3. Choose Your Horse(s) and Bet Type – Now comes the time to place your wager. Choose the horse(s) you want to bet on then select your wager type. Horse racing bets can be a bit more complicated than traditional sports betting, so it’s important to understand each bet type before betting. We will go over these in the section below.
  4. Confirm Your Bet – Betting sites usually require a few clicks to confirm a wager. One click to add it to your bet slip, another to place the bet and a final click to finalize the wager. Be sure that your wager amount and selection are correct before placing your bet.

Best Bets For Horse Racing

There is a large variety when it comes to types of horse racing bets. Jumping in without understanding the different bets you can place isn’t a good way to start off your racing betting career.

  • Win – Choose one horse to win the race. If the horse wins, you win your bet. It’s as simple as that.
  • Place – Choose one horse, but this time the horse needs to finish first or second for you to win.
  • Show – Choose one horse, but this time the horse can finish first, second, or third for gamblers to win.
  • Exacta – Choose the horses that will finish first and second in the correct order to win an exacta bet.
  • Quinella – A quinella is like an exacta, but bettors won’t have to pick the correct order of the two horses they choose. Pick the top two finishers in the race, and they can come in any order for you to win.
  • Trifecta – A trifecta is similar to an exacta, but bettors must choose the correct order of the horses that finish first, second, and third. They must come in the order selected, or the bet is graded as a loss.
  • Superfecta – A superfecta is like an exacta and a trifecta, but bettors must choose the top four finishers of the race, in the correct order, for the bet to win.
  • Hi-5 – Bettors must pick the first 5 horses to win the race and must have them in the correct order to win.

In addition to these wagers, there are multi-race exotics, which bettors can pick the winners of consecutive races. Trying to pick the winners of two races is the daily double, three races is a pick 3, and so on.

Best Horse Racing Betting Sites

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Horse Racing Betting Tips

There are lots of books about picking winning horses. The reality is that betting the ponies is just like handicapping sports, it takes plenty of knowledge and an understanding of betting markets. The tips below won’t turn you into a winning horse bettor overnight but will get you started down the right track (no pun intended, LOL).

Betting Tip #1Be Selective

This shouldn’t be a tough concept. Betting on every game or race on the schedule is not the way to become a profitable bettor. Handpick the races you want to bet and have good reasons for doing so. No one who bets everything under the sun is going to win money over the long haul.

Betting Tip #2Steer Clear of Exotics

One of the main issues with gamblers of all kinds is they want that quick-hit or big payday. Betting Hi-5s or Pick 4s may enticing due to the potential payoff, but these will deplete a bankroll quickly. Stick with wins, places, shows, and exactas on races that where you have higher confidence.

Betting Tip #3Analyzing the Track

Many horses perform better on turf vs. dirt courses and vice-versa. It’s extremely rare that a horse will excel at both. The same can be said for the track. Some prefer a dry track, and other prefer a wet track. One big difference in relation to turf courses in Europe, is that they’re often much softer compared to the firm courses in the U.S.

Horse Racing Payout Calculator

Try out horse betting calculator which will allow you to input amounts and wager types to determine your payout. Use our calculator to be sure you’re being paid the correct amount and to see your potential payout for a wager.

About the Author

Joseph Falchetti

Joseph Falchetti

Editor-in-Chief, Pro Sports Bettor and Casino Expert

Joe is the author of the majority of sports betting pages on SBS and he serves as a gambling consultant to our content team. He's been mentioned on as a gaming analyst, and his articles have been linked by larger publications, such as the New York Times.

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