Betting Horse Racing at Online Sportsbooks

One of the best ways to build more excitement into your overall sports betting strategy is by wagering on the outcome of a horse race. Fortunately, today’s top online sportsbooks such as Vice have made that easy to do through their stand-alone online racebook.

Race tracks running a daily card are easy to find since most of these racebooks cover every track in North America. Horse bettors looking for an international flare also have access to live cards in racing hot spots such as the UK, France, Japan and Australia.

Online racebooks also offer the same betting options as live tracks using the exact set of live odds posted for each race.

Most horse racing betting options fall into one of the three general categories listed below:

  • Straight Bets
  • Exotics -single race
  • Exotics- multiple races

Straight Bets: Win-Place-Show

Wagering on a horse to win a race is the most basic bet you can make. The payout on this type of wager is tied to that horse’s closing odds. For example, a $2 bet on a horse winning a race at 4/1 odds will generally return around $8.

The Place bet can be made on a horse to finish second and a Show bet covers the horse finishing third. A horse finishing first, second or third is referred to as ‘finishing in the money’.

Betting a single horse to win, place or show is also called betting them “across the board.”

The opening betting odds for every horse in a race are known as the ‘morning line odds’. These odds are set by a professional handicapper at that live track.

Every race at a live track has three separate money pools for win-place-show. These pools are made up of the money bet on every horse in a particular race. The money bet also has an impact on each horse’s ‘live odds’. These odds are constantly changing leading up to the start of the race.

For example, the No. 1 horse opened at 5/1 odds to win on the morning line. The actual money bet that horse to win has been high enough to drive down those odds to 3/1 by the time the race starts. A horse’s ‘closing odds’ when the race starts are the ones that impact the actual win-place-show payouts.

Single Race Exotics: Exacta and Trifecta

Betting on a pair of horses to finish first and second in a single race is called an exacta bet. To payoff, they have to win and place in the exact order you bet them. You also have the option the ‘box’ this bet so they can finish first or second in any order.

Example #1: $2 exacta on horse No. 1 and No. 2. To cash this bet, the No. 1 horse has to win and the No. 2 horse has to place.

Example #2: $2 exacta boxed on horse No. 1 and No. 2. To cash this bet, either horse can win or finish second but the cost of the original $2 bet is doubled to $4.

By adding a show horse to the mix, this bet turned into a trifecta. The same rules apply in that your three horses have to finish first, second and third in the exact order you bet them.

A trifecta can also be boxed but a $2 bet would actually cost $12 to account for all the winning combinations.

The actual payouts on exactas and especially trifectas can be much higher depending on the closing odds. However, these bets (especially trifectas) are much harder to cash.

Multiple Races Exotics: Daily Double and Pick 3

Betting the Daily Double of any live race card is picking the winner of two consecutive races in advance. Many tracks will expand this bet to three consecutive winners with a Pick 3 bet and even four winners in a row with a Pick 4.