Horse racing and gambling are almost synonymous with one another. Thoroughbred racing traces its roots back centuries ago and even nowadays, it’s widely-practiced across the entire world. Unlike many other forms of sports betting, it’s also legal in a plethora of locations. The rise of online horse racing betting sites has made it easier than ever to gamble on the sport.

If you’re new to wagering on races or just want to brush up on certain topics, we’ve put together this entire horse betting guide. Think of this is a horse betting 101 crash course. Lessons we’re going to go over throughout this article include best online sportsbooks for betting on horse racing, types of horse racing bets, and valuable tips to win your wagers! That’s a sizable undertaking so let’s get started!

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Best Online Horse Betting Sites

Casual bettors are surely familiar with the American Triple Crown races — the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. But those events are only the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of horse races held elsewhere, say in Australia or Asia. To keep up with all this action, you’ll need one of the best online horse betting sites.

While most online bookmakers have dedicated racebooks for horse bets, there’s a few that stand out — and for all good reasons. Next, we’re going to cover our top sportsbook recommendations with a keen eye on those that are leading in the horse gambling space.


Few names are trusted more in the offshore betting industry than BetOnline. It’s carved out a stellar reputation for itself off the back of its strong wagering menu. Of course, that applies to horse track betting, too. You’ll find betting odds for all the top races across the globe here.

Moreover, BetOnline also offers special bonuses for horse racing gambling fans. For starters, the first horse bet is completely “risk-free.” How the deal works is if you bet $25 on your first wager, you’ll be returned the money if it loses. In the event that it hits, well, you just won money at no risk.

On top of this, BetOnline also offers a seven-percent rebate on all horse betting. It’s a daily rebate so players will earn cashback from every single wager they make on horses. While a good deal, BetOnline is not unique in this sense. You’ll soon realize this is a trend at most betting sites.


Similarly, you’ll find all the best horse race bets at BookMaker. The betting site is especially strong for North American tracks as the site carries more than 50 in this department.

If you’re on a tight budget, BookMaker also allows bets as little as $1. To sweeten the deal, BookMaker also offers a rebate program of its own. Here, it’s eight percent back on all race bets — whether it’s a win or a loss.


Horse racing is an around-the-clock affair and it’s all available at BetDSI. Odds for win, place, show, exotics — types of horse bets we’ll cover later in this guide — are readily available on BetDSI at great prices, no less.

Not only does BetDSI offer a rebate of up to eight percent (on exotic wagers, at least) in its racebook, but the betting site also has an entire rewards program. It’s called BetPoints and rewards are accumulated through playthrough across the site, whether that be sports, horse, or casino wagering.

As we’ve alluded to, there’s no shortage of best bets horse racing. Seemingly every day, there’s action to be had. That’s why a loyalty program like BetDSI is ever-important. Over the long run, you actually get paid to gamble at BetDSI.


We saved for the best for last, well, at least when it comes to best racebook rebate programs. In this regard, few competitors come close to matching Bovada.

Get this, the betting site offers two distinct programs. The first is its “regular” rebate, which can top out at a whopping nine percent. The exact percentage will vary depending on the track. For instance, Tracks A are nine percent, while Tracks C are six percent.

Furthermore, Bovada also offers a “plus” 10-percent rebate. This applies strictly to top-end racetracks — e.g. Churchill Downs, Monmouth Park, or Saratoga, for instance. But there is a catch, the rebate is for winners only. Still, that 10-percent bonus can really ramp up your payout potential.

Betting horse racing doesn’t get much better than the aforementioned bookmakers. If you want to get started, check out the table below. How to place a horse bet is simple enough. Once you sign up and fund your account, you’ll be off to the races in no time — pun fully intended.

How To Bet On Horse Racing

Almost immediately, newbie bettor are thrown off by how to bet on horse racing. It's a little unorthodox, well, at least compared to other types of sports wagering.

We're here to clear up those misconceptions and go deep into horse racing betting explained  horse betting terms to know, types of horse betting, and even some tips. Let's begin with the wagers you'll come across in the world of thoroughbred racing.

Straight Bets (Win, Place, Show)

This is the most popular type of horse race betting. The outcome is solely concerned with where a horse finishes a race.

Win means the bet-on horse has to place first to cash in the ticket. Place has a little more leeway, with a win going to a horse that finishes either first or second (no matter the order). Lastly, show goes to a horse that finishes in the top-three. Similarly, the horse racing betting term "in the money" simply means to place top-three, thus earning you money.

Moreover, horse betting odds are typically displayed in fractions. Whereas most bookmakers use the American lines for most forms of sports betting, such as -350 for example. In factions, that same -350 line would be displayed 2/7. Think of it this way, for every seven dollars you wager, you'd earn back $2 if it hits.

Exotic Bets

Things get slightly more complicated here, but it's still not bad. Think of exotic horse bets as parlays you'd find at other sports. Essentially, it's a multi-leg bet on different events. There's plenty of exotic betting types, but these are the most common:

  • Quinella: this exotic bet tasks a bettor with correctly predicting which two horses will place in the top-two, no matter the order.
  • Exacta: Like quinella, players must bet which horses will finish first and second. However, as the name implies, you must also correctly pick the finishing order between those two horses.
  • Trifecta: The same exact concept as exacta, however, a third horse is added to the mix. Bettors must pick the exact order of all top-three horses in a single race.
  • Superfecta: Things get harder here as bettors must accurately predict the top-four horses in exact order.
  • Daily double: To win this wager, a bettor must correctly pick the winning horses of two separate races held back-to-back.
  • Pick three: Identical to daily doubles, only this time, it's three-race winners, not two. Once again, the races must all be consecutive. Similar variations exist such as pick four, pick five, etc.

No surprise here, but exotic bets have much better horse bet payouts than straight wagers given the increased difficulty of them. Like a regular parlay, you must hit on all outcomes to get paid out on exotic gambles. A single miss will crumble the entire betting ticket.

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Horse Betting Strategy

Now that you know how does horse betting work, it's time to get to the good stuff — how to win at horse betting. It's not a one-size-fits-all solution, but we have some must-follow tips to ensure gambling success:

Do Some Research

This sounds obvious, but we're stunned at how little this piece of advice is actually followed by bettors, both new and experienced. Look, we love racehorse names as much as the next person, but you shouldn't be picking winners based on this.

No, you'll need to think much harder. Start by doing a deep dive on the track. How long is the race? What surface will the horses be trekking on — dirt, turf, or synthetic? Having these answers gives you a clue to which horses are at a disadvantage or in turn, have the edge.

Lastly, of course, know the horse your gambling on. You don't have to know what size the racehorse's legs are — though, this wouldn't be bad — but at least know their recent workout performances or how they've fared at this track before. Obviously, the more research you do on a track or horse, the better your off.

Don't Fall In Love With Longshots

Just about every race has dark horses with lopsided odds, think 50/1. Naturally, a bettor sees the possible payout and decides to throw a few bucks that horse's way "just in case." Don't fall into this trap. While once every blue moon one of these longshots places top-three, it's a rarity.

In the same token, keep the wagering amount on exotic bets very modest. Wagers such as trifecta or top three are longshots in their own right. Avoid fantasizing about the potential payout and be realistic about your winning chances.

And with that, folks, you just completed horse betting for dummies. If you paid close attention, you now know all the horse betting basics that will make you a successful bettor!