A Quick Guide to Horse Betting for Beginners

They’re coming up on their final lap! It’s a tight race for first, who will win?

The thrill of watching a horse race never goes away. From the stomping hooves to the mesmerizing techniques of the jockeys, it’s hard to take your eyes off of a race once it begins.

What can make watching horse racing even more exciting? Betting on the races!

If you want to make a profit from horse race picks, this is the guide for you. Keep reading to learn what you need to know about horse betting for beginners.

Where Can You Bet on Horse Racing?

You can find racing associations in some states that offer betting apps for users to place bets. A few states also have OTBs (Off-Track-Betting shops) in certain locations.

You can also use an online betting platform or app that offers horse racing. Before signing up, make sure online sports betting is allowed in your state.

Popular Horse Racing Wagers

If you want to bet on horses, you’ll have a few different wagers to choose from. These are the most popular horse racing wagers:


Win betting is popular because it’s simple. You place money on the horse you think is going to win the race.

For your bet to pay out, the horse you backed has to win. If the horse you bet on were to finish anywhere but first in the race, you lose the bet.


Place betting is less risky because you are betting on a horse to win first or second place. To win the wager, the horse you bet on has to win first or second.


If you want to minimize your risk further, you can do a show bet. Show is a horse racing term for finishing in the top three in a race.

The payout for this bet is going to be less because the odds are lower. You win the wager if your horse finishes first, second, or third place.

Across the Board

Across the board is a betting technique that combines the above three options. You are placing a wager on a horse across the board which means you put a certain dollar amount on a horse to win, place second, or place third.

How does this differ from the above bets?

If the horse wins, you’ll be paid out on all three positions. If the horse finishes second, you win the place and show spots. You’ll only win show money if your horse places third.


Horse races offer an exacta bet, another popular option among bettors.

For an exacta bet, you’ll select two horses that you believe will finish first and second. You’ll place them in the exact order in which you think they will win.

A horse race market will display the horse number. Let’s say you believe the No. 6 horse will win a race and the No. 3 horse will finish second. You’d place these horses in an exacta bet.

You’d place a wager in as a 6-3 exacta in that order. Any other combination than the one you chose is a loss.

Exacta Box

An exacta box wager allows a bettor a little more leeway. You’ll choose two horses that you think will come in first or second, like an exacta bet.

However, if any combination of the two horses comes in first and second, you win. This bet doesn’t have to be in the exact order.

If you want to win a larger amount, you’ll need to place a higher wager because the odds of an exacta box are lower than an exacta bet.


A trifecta bet is similar to an exacta bet. The bettor has to exactly predict the order of the first, second, and third-place horse in a single race.

For example, if you used Docs Derby Picks and chose horses No.21, No.3, and No.10 to win the Kentucky Derby in that order, you would have a nice payout.

Bettors tend to build multiple trifecta bets with different horses in a race to have a better chance of winning.

Trifecta Box

The trifecta box works just like the exacta box but with three horses instead of two. If you select three horses, they can finish 1-2-3 in any order to win the bet.


A superfecta bet is not as popular among bettors as the exacta or trifecta because they are harder to win. With this bet, you choose the top four horses to finish in exact order.

The odds for superfecta bets are high because guessing the exact order four horses will place is a high risk. Some tracks and racebooks offer $0.10 superfecta wagering if you want to get involved in this market for a low cost.

Superfecta Box

You probably guessed what the superfecta box is. Like with exacta and trifecta boxes, you can choose four horses to finish in the top four without worrying about the exact order.

The horses can finish 1-2-3-4 in any combination for you to win the bet.

Reading the Odds

Horse betting for beginners gets complicated when it comes to reading the odds. You’ll likely see fractional odds for horse racing betting.

Fractional odds represent the ratio of the profit won to the stake of the bet. For example, a 5/1 (five-to-one) fraction means that you win $5 for every $1 you wager. Plus, you’ll receive the amount you wagered back.

Horse Betting for Beginners: Place Bets Now!

Betting on horse racing is thrilling if you know what you are doing. With this horse betting for beginners guide, you’ll know where to bet, what to bet, and how to read the odds.

This betting advice will help you become profitable instead of going into the process blind. Do your research and choose the horses you think have the best chance to win to try to make some passive income!

For more hot tips like this, check out the other posts on our blog.