So You Wanna Make A Wager ?

Last Friday the Daily Racing Blog once again had the pleasure of doing a segment on the Jerry Sullivan Radio Show, heard on 1270 The Fan out of Buffalo, NY.  (the show is on Monday – Friday, nine to noon, and can be streamed live on  But we digress, after explaining how we were going to Wager on the Travers Stakes, our gracious host (Jerry) said; “I’m sure some of our listeners understood that.”

You always give me pause Sully, so here for you, your producer Bobby, the intern, and your sea of rabid fans, another quick refresher course in horse race betting:

The thought of placing a bet at the track or your local betting parlor may be exciting, but also a little intimidating for the uninitiated.  You may be worried about locating the clerks, using the right racing terminology, or even how much to bet based on the odds.

To help out first-time betters or those who may not have been to the track or OTB in awhile, here is a handy little guide to placing a Bet.  Once you read through the steps, you’ll realize it’s not as confusing as it seems.

Step 1: Study Up !

People joke that they make bets on horses based on the color of the jockey’s silks, or because they like the horse’s name.  You certainly don’t have to become an expert who devours the race program or endlessly studies the charts to be proficient at horse betting.

However, short of winging it completely at the betting window, it’s good to understand that a lot about betting is based on being prepared to make the best bet you can. Veteran gamblers spend hours studying past results and examining race conditions and betting odds.

We feel that being prepared before hitting the clerk’s window or touchscreen machine enhances the track experience.  Here are five pieces of information you need to know before you make that bet:

  1. Name of the racetrack
  2. Race number
  3. Dollar amount of your bet
  4. Type of bet
  5. Number (NOT name) of the horse(s) you’re betting on.

Some of these are more confusing than others, so we’ve clarified them below.

Types Of Bets

Straight Wager Bets:

  • Win: Pick a horse to finish first
  • Place: Pick a horse to finish first or second
  • Show: Pick a horse to finish first, second, or third

Exotic Wager Bets:

  • Exacta: Pick the first and second place finishers in the exact order
  • Trifecta: Pick the first, second, and third place finishers in the exact order
  • Superfecta: Pick the first, second, third, and fourth place finishers in the exact order

Multi-Race Bets:  (This is where the big money is people!)

  • Daily Double: Pick the Winner in two consecutive races
  • Pick Three: Pick the Winner in three consecutive races
  • Pick Four: Pick the Winner in four consecutive races
  • Pick Five: Pick the Winner in five consecutive races
  • Pick Six: Pick the Winner in six consecutive races

Step 2: Find The Betting Windows

Once you’ve figured out all of the relevant information, including how much money you’d like to wager based on your desired payout and which type of bet you’d like to place, it’s time to make a bet.  This is where you have the option to use a live teller or make use of the self-service terminals located throughout the racetrack and OTB’s.

Step 3: Watch The Race

Enjoy the race, and keep track of which horse(s) you’ve bet on !

If your horse Wins, proceed to Step 4.  If not, return to Step 1, but don’t be discouraged.

Step 4: Claim Your Bet

Return to any betting window and present your Winning ticket to the clerk.  You’ll receive your cash winnings on the spot.  Same goes for the touch-screen windows.  As soon as the race results have been deemed official by track personnel, the payoffs will be posted on TV terminals and on the big board on the track’s infield.

If you are fortunate enough to Win big, be sure to tip the clerk – it’s a polite move to make, and provides good karma.

On Friday the Daily Racing Blog will take a look at Saturdays Grade 1 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga.  So be sure to stop back.




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