By Christy Lamagna, CMP, CMM, CTSM

How to place a wager on a horse race.

How to place a wager on a horse race

Considering a day at the track or casino/racetrack venue? Grab your binoculars, sunscreen and these basic primers for a day of fun, fresh air, an adrenaline rush, and hopefully a bit of extra money in your pocket when you leave.

Before you bet:
• Be realistic. The chances of winning big are against you so keep in mind that this is about fun, not getting rich quick.
• Know your budget for the day and be prepared to stick to it.
• Set a per race betting limit. Bets start at $2.

The process:
• Most tracks have automated betting machines but if you’re just starting out, opt for a teller at a window so you have a bit of guidance should you get confused.

Go to the teller window knowing:
• The race number, the amount you are betting, the kind of bet you are placing and the program number of your horse. For example, “Eventplanner (horse name), race one, $2 to show on #23.”
• Check your ticket before leaving the teller window. If there is a mistake there’s no correcting it after you walk away.
• You may want to watch a race or two before pulling out your wallet. If you decide to go with one of the favorites, you may up your odds of winning but for a smaller payout. It’s the longshots that win the least but pay the most.

Horse Betting Terms

Types of straight bets:
• Wagers can be straight or exotic. With a straight bet you are betting on a single horse to win, place, or show. Exotic bets are based on a combination of horses to win, place, or show in a single bet.
• While the latter sounds more interesting, the former is the better choice for newbies. It pays less but it’s a great place to start.

Here are some basic straight bets:
Win: Your horse must come in first place.
Place: Your horse must come in first or second place.
Show: Your horse must finish in the top three.
Daily Double: Your horse must win two consecutive races.
Pick Three: Your horse must win three consecutive races.

Experienced betters focus on a number of factors including the horse’s history for that race, its performance on that type of track, and the day’s weather. The jockey, trainer, and owner are also taken into consideration.

Handicapping sheets, daily race forms, and programs are available for nominal fees and will provide additional insight. For instance, the program lists what horses are running in each race. Next to each horses’ name will be the odds of it winning. The higher the odds, the lower the chance of the horse winning and vice versa while the higher the odds, the higher the payout.

Going for the longshot may sound appealing but keep in mind that betting the favorite has some statistical plusses: the favorite wins 33% of the time, places 53% of the time, and shows 67% of the time.

No matter how you play it, a day at the races is a day of fresh air, laughter, cheering, camaraderie, and excitement. So next time you’re looking for a teambuilding activity or group outing, check out the action at a track!


Tags: A Horse A Piece, Horse Race, Horse Betting, Event Planning, Strategic Planners, Strategic Events, Corporate Meetings, Corporate Events, Midwest Meetings

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