Horse Racing Betting Guide - Where & How to bet On Horse Racing

Pickswise online horse racing betting guide has everything you need to know about how to bet on horse racing. We look at the top online sportsbooks for where to bet on horse racing. Our horse racing experts round up the guide with five horse racing betting tips, which will give you some extra knowledge for how to win money in horse betting.

Santa Anita Horse Racing Turf

Credit: Benoit Photo via USA TODAY Sports

Online Horse Racing Betting Sportsbooks

Bet $20, win $100 whatever the result!
Visit for full terms and conditions. Must be 21+. Available for customers in NJ, CO, WV, TN, PA, MI, IA, VA or IN. Excludes Michigan disassociated persons. Please gamble responsibly. Gambling problem? Call 1-80-522-4700 (CO & VA), 1-800-270-7117 for confidential help (MI), 1-800 GAMBLER (NJ, PA & WV), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), call or text the Tennessee Redline on 800-889-9789 (TN) or 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN).
Bet £10 get £40
New customers using promo code C40 only. 1x per customer. Min £10/€10 bet. Min odds 1/2 (1.5). Free bets paid as 2x £15/€15 (expires after 30 days). Max £10 Bonus. 35x wagering requirement. Max redeemable amount £25. Casino bonus expires 72 hours from issue. Eligibility rules, free-bet rules, game, location, payment-method, currency restrictions, stake contributions and terms and conditions apply.
Get a $300 Risk-Free Bet!
Register for a new TVG account by clicking the sign up now button and using promo code RISKFREE1. Get a 50% Bonus On Your First Deposit. Must be 21+. Please gamble responsibly.
Get up to £100 in Bet Credits!
New Customers only. Up to £100* in Bet Credits. Sign up, deposit £5* or more to your account and bet365 will match your qualifying deposit in Bet Credits when you place qualifying bets to the same value and they are settled. Min odds/bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. T&Cs, time limits & exclusions apply. To use the Live Streaming service you will need to be logged in and have a funded account or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours.
Get a $200 Sign Up Bonus!
Open your account using offer code BET200 and start earning your $200 bonus right away. 21+. T&C's apply. Please gamble responsibly.
$200 Sign Up Bonus!
Players who sign up using ‘BET200’ code will get a $200 sign up bonus. Offer valid for 7 days after registering on BetAmerica Racing product only. 21+. T&C's apply. Please gamble responsibly.

How To Bet On Horse Racing

When it comes to placing a wager on the horses, the majority of bettors will look to place either a simple Win bet, Place bet or Show bet. These three types of wager are betting in the simplest form. A Win bet is simply placing a wager on a horse to finish first, a Place bet, a horse to finish first or second and a Show bet for a horse to finish in the first three. Other popular betting methods on horse racing include multiple bets, parlays, and exotics, all of which will be explained in our betting markets section below.

Horse Racing Picks

Our industry expert tipsters will give out free horse racing picks and horse racing selections on all of the top domestic and international equine action. With horse racing taking place almost every day, there is always plenty of action for our tipster to analyze and for horse racing fans to place wagers on. For all of our latest horse racing picks head over to our horse racing picks page here

Where To Bet on Horse Racing

Betting on horse racing has a long and illustrious history in the US, and is a much wider accessible form of gambling that the majority of other sports.

It is currently legal to place a wager on horse racing online in 41 states across America.

The nine states where you cannot legally place an online bet on horse racing are:

  • Alaska
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Mississippi
  • Nevada
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Washington D.C.

The online bookmakers available will vary from state to state, with some online sportsbooks unavailable in certain states.

One of the industry leaders in horse racing betting is TVG. TVG is one of the most reputable names in the business and part of the TVG horse and greyhound racing tv network. With a sole focus on all things racing, be it greyhounds or horses, TVG’s industry expertise is clear to see, and they cover all of the top action from around the world.

While most online sportsbooks offer domestic horse racing odds, those that offer odds on international horse racing typically only cover flagship days like the Epsom Derby, Royal Ascot, or the Prix de l’arc de Triomphe. At TVG, international racing fans can place wagers on racing throughout the week, with a myriad of tracks from Dubai, Australia, Great Britain, China, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand and South Africa available, there are countless races to place a wager on each day.

As well as extensive horse racing coverage, TVG offers competitive odds with regular price boosts, Money-back specials, daily cash giveaways, and unrivaled streaming services for all of the action.

TVG is a particularly good option for those new to the horse racing betting or sports betting in general as they have 11 in-depth tutorial videos available to walk a bettor through all of the account options, how to navigate the website, and explaining all of the betting jargon.

BetAmerica, part of the Churchill Downs incorporation also has a long history within horse racing and their own separate, designated horse racing section to their sportsbook.

BetAmerica offers much the same at TVG with regular offers and comprehensive coverage of both domestic and international racing with an even greater selection of horse racing, with up to 300 tracks shown from North America, Ireland, Sweden, Canada, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Japan, France, the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, Great Britain, South Africa, Australia, and Argentina.

BetAmerica is also a great option for fans of greyhound racing, where their coverage is unrivaled, showing approximately 1000 races each week. 

Horse Racing Betting Markets

Straight wagers

Win Bets

The simplest form of betting on a horse race, a bet on a horse to win the race.  Your horse must finish first for your wager to payout. 

Place Bets

A Place bet is a bet on a horse to finish in the first two. You’ll receive the same payout regardless if your horse finishes first or second.

Show Bets

Similar to a Place bet, but instead of the first two, you’re betting on a horse to finish in the first three. You’ll receive the same payout regardless if your horse finishes first, second, or third.


A Win/Place bet is simply a combination of a Win bet and Place bet on the same horse, one to win, one to place. As its two bets, the total wager will cost twice the amount of your bet.

For example, a $10 Win/Place will be $10 Win bet and $10 Place bet costing $20 in total.

If your horse wins you will collect on both parts of the ticket, the Win bet, and Place bet. If your horse finishes second you will only collect the winnings from the Place bet. If your selection finishes worse than second, the wager is a loser.


A combination of a place and a show bet. Similarly to a Win/Place bet, it’s two bets so the total wager will cost twice the amount of your bet.

If your horse finishes first or second you’ll cash on both the Place and Show bets. If your horse finishes third, you’ll only cash the show part of the wager. A horse finishing outside of the top-3 will result in a losing wager.

Across The Board

An Across The Board bet is a combination of all three wagers above, so if you bet a horse Across The Board, you are taking it to win place and show.  If the horse wins, you collect on all three bets.  If it is second, you collect on Place and Show bets, and if it is third you collect on only the Show part of the bet.

Exotic Singles


An Exacta bet is a bet whereby you pick the horses to finish first and second horses in the correct order.


A Quinella bet is the same as an exacta bet except the horses can finish in either order. As such the total wager will cost double your bet stake – see it as two separate wagers on combinations 1×2 or 2×1 in finishing order.


A Trifecta is a bet whereby you select the first, second, and third horses. Each horse will need to finish in the exact order that you picked to win your bet.


A Superfecta is even tougher. A Superfecta is a bet on the first four horses home. With each of the first, second, third, and fourth horses needing to finish in the exact order you picked for your bet to win.

Exotic Multiples – Daily Double, Pick 3, Pick 4, Pick 6

Exotic Multiple bets are a great way to have a bet on multiple races, whereby you have to pick the winner of consecutive races.

The Daily Double is a bet where you have to select the winner of two races consecutive races, Pick 3, on three races, Pick 4 on four races and Pick 6 on six races. The races included in today’s exotic multiples will be highlighted at your favorite online bookmaker. New to betting online or unsure where to bet? Check out our latest promo codes and sportsbook reviews.

Exotic Combinations

Exotic combination bets are bets that allow you to select multiple horses into the exotic bets listed above such as exacta, trifecta, and superfecta. There are multiple different types of exotic combination bets, with the most common types being Box and Key bets


Boxing a bet means covering all available combinations, so in an Exacta, there are 2 possibilities, a Trifecta has 6, and so on.  You multiply the cost of your unit stake appropriately.

For example, a $2 box trifecta on three horses has 6 possibilities 1x2x3, 1x3x2, 2x1x3, 2x3x1, 3x1x2 & 3x2x1. A Box bet places your stake on each of these combinations, so a $2 bet on each will cost $12. If the three horses you select to finish in the first three, you’ll have the combination and will be paid out in line with the odds of that combination.


Keying a horse means taking it to win by itself and adding others to finish in behind it. 

For example, a Trifecta Key would be choosing one horse you definitely think will win and then any combination of other horses to fill second and third place behind it.

The cost of the Trifecta Key will depend on how many horses you select in behind the horse to win.
A 3-box trifecta, meaning three selections to finish either 2nd or 3rd behind your selection for 1st place would cost 6x your stake as there are 6 possible combinations.

Horse Racing Betting Tips: 5 Ways To Bet Smarter On Horse Racing

  1. The Racecard – Understand it
    A racecard can be a daunting prospect for a casual or new bettor to horse racing but understanding it is vital to successful long term betting. A racecard has all of the information you need about a race and each horse declared to run in that race to aid you in making the most informed selection.

    The race details will be on the top of the racecard detailing the class of the race, the distance, the conditions, and the prize money on offer. You need to keep these conditions in mind when making your selections as different horses are better suited to different conditions, you can tell this by looking at their previous runs to see how they performed under similar conditions.

    The racecard also lists all of the runners in the race, the saddle-cloth number, the stall number is races from, the positions of its last runs, know as its form, the weight it will carry and the trainer and jockey of the horse. 

    It will also have the jockey silks, which are the colors the jockey will wear while riding the horse, this will make it easy to spot your selection during the race.

    The racecard is your go-to for all the information you’ll need in making a selection, and mastering it is one of the most important things for any horse racing bettor.
  2. Preparation – Do your research
    Final racecards can be accessed the day before the races, in some cases even two days prior, depending on the declaration stage, which is the deadline to enter a horse in a race.
    This gives you plenty of time to look at the cards, size up all of the races, go through each horse’s form, and narrow down the field to make your selections.

    Researching a race is extremely important, as you can build a picture of all of the runners, the race conditions the track conditions and make the most informed decision in your selection. There are so many variables in horse racing and the more time you put into researching a card, the more variables you’ll consider and account for in your selections.
  3. Place different kinds of bets – Get Exotic
    As listed above there are a whole host of bet types that you can place on a race, check out the different types above if you haven’t.

    Most people will place straight bets such as win bets or perhaps place bets, but understanding all the different ways you can bet on a horse race such as exotic bets, and incorporating them into your betting strategy can really boost your winnings.

    For example, if you do your research of a race and narrow the field down to three runners you think could win but are unsure which of the three to bet on, rather than placing a bet on all three to win, which could result in losing money, even if you win, you can place a bet on a Box Trifecta, which can see a huge return if landing.
  4. Shop the Odds – Get the best prices
    Betting on Horse racing is an incredibly popular form of sports betting and as such it is a very competitive market, with sportsbooks doing their best to attract a bettors custom.

    While offers and specials such as money back if your horse finishes second is a great offer and definitely worth taking advantage of, shopping around for the odds will always be of utmost importance for your long term success.

    Sportsbooks price up the races themselves and offer different odds about the horses to one another, so it’s useful to compare the prices of your horse with all top online sportsbooks before placing a bet.

    Price differences are common. One online sportsbook may have a horse you want to have a wager on at a price of +600 while the other has it at +1000 which for a $100 wager would see you win $400 more for the same bet.

    Unsure where is best to place a bet? Or which sportsbooks are the best to join? Head over to our sportsbook reviews and promo code pages to check out the top sportsbooks and latest promotions.
  5. Specialize your bets – Be calculated
    Any given day can see up to 20 tracks hold race days in North America, each with anywhere up to 12 races, in some cases even more. Add that to the abundance of international racing in the UK, South Africa, Australia, France among others and you have hundreds of races every day.

    You definitely don’t want to be betting on every race, that will quickly witty away your bankroll and take all enjoyment out of betting on horses.

    Instead, you want to find a niche and bet on a select few.

    There are many ways you can specialize in certain race types, whether that is a particular country, a particular track, just sprint races, just stakes races, the possibilities are endless but find a niche you enjoy and become an expert at it.

    By doing this you can focus all of your attention towards one area of an overwhelming racing schedule, allowing for a greater depth of research which in time will turn into much better results.