How to Choose a Sportsbook and Start Betting on Horse Racing
Before you can place your first bets on horse racing, you need to choose an online sportsbook. Online betting is now legal and live throughout much of the US, but you should check to see which sportsbooks are available in your state before choosing.
You also need to look at the following criteria to ensure you join the best site and have the best experience while betting on horses:
License and Security
Before you start betting, make sure the site you use is licensed and safe. A relevant license is required for sportsbooks to operate legally, and this is also a sign of trust and means your cash and personal details will be kept secure.
Reputation is everything, and the best sportsbooks have a great track record of providing fair, fun, and simple betting. You can learn more about how sportsbooks treat their users by checking out our reviews.
Ease of Use
Betting on horse racing should always be simple, and the best sportsbooks make sure it’s never difficult to find races and place bets. In addition, the process of signing up and placing your first bets should be fast and straightforward.
When you bet on horse races, make sure you’re claiming betting promos. All great sportsbooks will offer bonuses when you sign up. Before joining, check to see which promos are available and read the terms and conditions carefully.
Higher odds mean higher potential profits and the odds can vary a lot between online sportsbooks. When you’re choosing a site, check to see how its odds compare, and make sure you get the best deal every time you bet.
The best sportsbooks have plenty of markets for you to bet on at all horse racing events. More markets mean more options and more opportunities to find value. Check to see if live betting markets are offered too.
You’ll need to deposit real money before you can start betting on horse races. Adding funds to your account should be fast and straightforward. Make sure that your preferred payment method is accepted and that you can easily withdraw funds too.
All online sportsbooks should be compatible with mobile devices. When deciding which site you join, check how easy it is to use on your mobile and whether or not there’s an app you can download and install.
Great customer service is another factor in choosing a sportsbook. It’s essential to have a way to contact the support team if you ever need assistance. All of our top-rated sportsbooks make betting as simple as possible while also providing excellent customer service in case something goes wrong.
Our Horse Racing Sportsbook Reviews
Of course, there’s a much easier way to find the best online sportsbook. We review all legal and licensed sportsbooks in the US, using research and the latest data to give our unbiased opinion on each site. Our review team personally joins every online sportsbook and tests them out, giving you all the information on features, payments, odds and much more.
Use our reviews to find out everything you need to know about the best online sportsbooks. It’s by far the quickest and easiest way to ensure you have a great time betting on horse racing.
Horse Racing Betting Promos
All good sportsbooks feature betting promos, which are special offers you can claim when you join. This is one of the biggest advantages of betting online compared to in-person, and they’re normally really easy to unlock. There are lots of great promos out there, and they’re almost always available to use on horse racing bets. Here are some of the most popular horse race promos:
- Risk-free bets – This promo lets you place a bet without worrying about the outcome you’re your bet wins, you’ll keep your winnings. However, if it loses, you’ll get a refund. The sportsbook refunds your stake up to a maximum amount, giving you a free bet of equal value. For example, a $200 risk-free bet would mean you get a $200 free bet if your first bet is $200 and it loses.
- Bet credits – Also known as free bets, these are tokens that are used in place of real money. When placing a bet, simply check the box in your bet slip to apply your bet credit. If your bet wins, you keep all the profits. If it loses, you don’t lose any real money.
- Matched deposit bonuses – This offer lets you increase your available funds when you first join. Your initial deposit gets matched, with the sportsbook effectively doubling the amount you have to bet with. For example, a 100% matched deposit bonus worth up to $250 would mean you get $500 in your account when you sign up and deposit $250.
- No deposit bonuses – The easiest offer to claim, where simply creating your account will give you funds available to bet with. As soon as you sign up, you can start betting, with no need to make a deposit first. However, you’ll normally need to deposit some funds before you can make any withdrawals.
- Odds boosts – Instantly boost your potential for profits with these promos. You can find odds boosts on a lot of popular markets, using them to get the best possible odds on your bets.
How to Claim a Horse Racing Bonus
Claiming bonuses is pretty simple. Most offers are available as a welcome bonus, which means you can unlock when you sign up and create your account. In most cases, instructions will be provided by the site you’re using, but here’s a quick guide to claiming the average sportsbook bonus:
- Sign up to one of the top-rated sportsbooks featured on this page
- Make your first deposit using the promo code if necessary
- Place your first bet to claim the bonus
Of course, there are always terms and conditions to follow too, and you should read these carefully. By following the terms, you can ensure you get the full value out of the offer and don’t miss out on any potential profits.
|Terms and Conditions||Example||Explanation|
|Rollover||10x rollover on your matched deposit bonus.||Wager your bonus ten times before you can withdraw the funds and any winnings.|
|Promo code||BONUS10||Use this code when making your deposit to claim the bonus|
|Minimum deposit||Deposit at least $20 to claim your deposit offer.||Only deposits of $20 or more will unlock this bonus.|
|Minimum bet||Make a bet of at least $20 to claim the free bets.||Your first bet must be $20 or more to unlock the offer.|
|Minimum odds||Bet at -200 or higher to claim your bonus.||Your first bet needs to be at odds of -200 or more to unlock the bonus.|
How Betting on Horses Works
Horse racing is incredibly exciting to watch and bet on, with fast, action-packed races taking place all over the world. In the US, the biggest races are the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, known as the Triple Crown. You can bet on these big races every year, but there are plenty of other horse racing events on the calendar too.
Betting on horses is just like any other, you select an event and then look at the different options available. First though, it pays to know a little more about the sport and how it works.
How Horse Racing Works
Horse racing is just like any other type of racing. At the beginning of the race, all of the horses are lined up in stalls, which will open up as the race gets underway. Horses are ridden by jockeys, who direct them over any obstacles and towards the finish line as quickly as possible. The winning horse gets the plaudits, but most horse races reward the top three places.
While that’s the basics of it, there are many different types of horse racing, and the rules can vary depending on the event you’re betting on. Before you bet, it’s important to note the nature of the race and the track that’s being used.
Racetracks in the US
Racetrack length and surface type make a big difference in how the horses perform. In addition, tracks can be either steeplechase (with obstacles) or completely flat. In most parts of the world, flat racing is more common, and the US is no different. For example, the Kentucky Derby is run at Churchill Downs, a flat dirt track.
The length of racetracks varies a lot. Distances in the sport are measured in furlongs, which is 660 feet or around 201 meters. Most races are over quickly, coming in at just 10 furlongs. However, there are lots of longer races too, which are typically endurance races rather than sprints.
Bear in mind that if you’re betting on international horse racing, the type of course used can vary considerably. Always check this out before you bet, and factor it in when looking at which horse you should bet on.
Understanding Horse Race Betting Odds
At most horse racing sportsbooks, odds are displayed as fractions rather than the typical format you may be used to. However, it’s still really easy to work out how much you’ll make from your winning bet.
You always divide the first number by the second and then multiply your stake by the result. For example, if you see a horse with odds of 3/1 to win the race, you’d divide 3 by 1, to give you 3. For a $100 stake, you’d win $300 if the horse wins.
On the other hand, for a horse that’s 1/3 to win, you’d divide 1 by 3 to give you 0.33. Here, you’d win $33 if you bet $100, and the hose wins.
Pari-Mutuel Horse Race Betting
While full horse racing betting isn’t legal in every state, a lot of places across the country have pari-mutuel betting instead. This is often offered at horse racetracks, even in states that don’t have legal sports betting.
Often referred to as pool betting, every dollar wagered on a specific market is pooled up. The winners are paid out the total sum of all wagers minus the costs taken by the racetrack.
With pari-mutuel betting, there are no fixed odds before the race starts. This means you have no way to tell what kind of profits you’d make. However, once all bets are off and the race is underway, you’ll be able to calculate your potential payout.
Horse Racing Betting Markets
There are lots of different ways you can bet on horse racing. Typically, these are placed in two separate categories. There are straight bets, which are bets on a single race, and exotics, which tie multiple races or multiple horses into one bet. Here are some examples:
|Win||Real Men Violin to Win Race 10 at Keeneland||A prediction that this particular horse will be the first to cross the finish line and win the race.|
|Place||Trademark to Place||A bet on that particular horse to either finish second or third in the race.|
|Show||Fortin Hill to Show||A bet that this particular horse will finish in the top three positions at the end of the race.|
|Across the board||Traegar Across the Board||Once again, adding another position into the prediction. Here, you’ll bet on the top five positions at the end of the race.|
|Exacta||Quick Draw 1st, Undersupervision 2nd||A bet on which two horses you think will finish first and second. You must correctly predict both horses and the correct order they finish the race.|
|Trifecta||Lady Moscato 1st, Sassy Princess 2nd, Perfect Shot 3rd||Just like the Exacta bet, only you’re picking which horses you think will finish the top three positions rather than just the first two.|
|Superfecta||Forever Uncaptured 1st, Tovia 2nd, Tayyara 3rd, Dove in Charge 4th||Adding another place to the prediction, this time betting on which horses will finish in the top four positions.|
|Superhighfive||Eastern Ocean 1st, Flavius 2nd, Castle Leoch 3rd, Liberal 4th, Taishan 5th||My Mane Squeeze, Mugen, and Perfect Shot to win|
|Daily Double||Caldwell Loves Gold and Coastal Invasion to win||A parlay bet where you pick the winning horses of two upcoming races.|
|Pick 3||Cara’s Time, Lookster, Blue Squall, Ashestodiamonds, and Tiergarten to all win||Betting on the winning horse in three different races. Each of your picks must win for your bet to be successful.|
|Pick 5||Cara’s Time, Lookster, Blue Squall, Ashestodiamonds and Tiergarten to all win||Another type of parlay bet, but this time, predicting the winner of five races.|
How to Place Your First Horse Racing Bet
Placing your very first bet on a horse race is a lot simpler than you might think. Once you’re signed up to a quality sportsbook, all you need to do is follow these steps:
- Open your sportsbook app or load the site in your device
- Make your first deposit and claim the betting promo
- Search for horse racing in the menu or enter a specific race track in the search bar
- Choose an event you want to bet on and look through the different horses and markets to bet on
- Select a horse to add it to your bet slip, then enter your stake and confirm
- Watch the race live to see the results!
Live Horse Racing Betting
Most people bet on horse races before they get underway, but did you know you can bet live too? Most online sportsbooks now have a live betting section where you can get the latest odds on events happening right now. This includes horse races. Depending on the length of the race track, horse races can be over in the blink of an eye or take many minutes to complete.
When horse races are live, you’ll be able to check the latest odds at your online sportsbook. These are updated throughout the race, so expect plenty of volatility as the race progresses. Most betting sites that feature live horse race betting will include live streams of the race or a graphic that shows the positions of the horses as they run down the track.
Guide to Betting on Horses from Your Mobile
You can bet on horses from your mobile too. Our data shows that the majority of people betting online prefer to use their tablet or smartphone. It’s a lot more convenient and it means you never have to miss out on a betting opportunity. Simply open your phone, log into your account and place your bet.
All of the online sportsbooks we recommend are fully compatible with mobile devices. This means you can log in and start betting without downloading any additional software. However, if there’s an app available, it makes things even easier. With your sportsbook app, you’ll not only enjoy a faster and smoother betting experience, but you can also get notifications and alerts about your bets.
|Advantages of Mobile Sportsbook App||Disadvantages of Mobile Sportsbook App|
|Place bets instantly||Need space on your device to download|
|Access a full range of markets and bonuses|
|Bet from anywhere|
Strategies for Betting on Horses
Horse races are notoriously difficult to predict, especially when there’s a large field with lots of runners. However, it is possible to make consistent profits from horses if you follow the right strategies and research every bet. Here are some key tips for you:
Look at Form Guides and Trainer History
Horse racing is extremely closely linked to betting, so it’s no surprise that there’s a huge amount of data on every horse and trainer. You can look up form guides to see the recent form of each horse before they compete. Don’t just look at the position they finished, but also the course length and type of track they were racing on. Trainer history is also important, as some trainers have a great reputation for producing winning horses.
Find Value in the Odds
The single most important thing you can do to increase your chances of making consistent profits is to ensure you’re always finding value in the odds. This means getting the best odds at your sportsbook and finding examples of horses that are undervalued. For example, if a horse that’s in great form but hasn’t run on this track before is the clear favorite, you’d get better value by betting on its closest rival instead.
Look for Expert Tips Online
Before a race gets underway, especially if it’s a big event, look out for tips from experts. A lot of horse racing industry experts give free advice and picks for major races, helping bettors choose the best horses. While they don’t get it right every time, tipsters help you narrow down the field and show you which horses will most likely win or upset the odds. Use them together with your own research to make your bets.
Horse Race Betting FAQ
Is it legal to bet on horse races?
Betting on horse races is legal at lots of racetracks across the country. Since legal online betting was established in many states, it may also be possible for you to bet on horse races online. Make sure you check your local laws, as not all states allow it.
Can I claim promos when I sign up to bet on horse racing?
Yes, if you’re betting on horses online, you’ll be able to claim a sportsbook promo. These are exciting offers that help you get more value out of your bets. Get the best horse racing betting promos right here, and always read the full terms and conditions before you claim.
Should I follow a horse race betting strategy?
If you want to win money betting on horses, it’s better to follow a strategy rather than picking at random. Always check past racing results and the form of a horse before betting on it. You can also find a lot of expert tips and opinions online to help give you a better idea of which horses you should bet on.
Which horse racing markets should I bet on?
Most horse races have a few different markets you can bet on. The main market is betting on the race winner. Simply pick a horse, and if it wins, you in your bet. You can also bet on place or show, which will mean you win your bet if your horse finishes in the top two or three places.
Which horse will win the Kentucky Derby?
The Kentucky Derby is the biggest horse race of the year and part of the prestigious Triple Crown. The horses taking part change each year, and the odds will always be different too. When looking at which horse to bet on, consider the quality of the trainer and their experience with winning horses. Check form guides and look for tips from experts online close to the race.
Tom Edlin is a senior author and contributor to SportsbookPromo.com. He's been writing and reporting on the US sports betting industry for years and has crafted hundreds of in-depth reviews and guides.