How To Bet On Horse Racing in the USA

Betting is an integral part of horse racing culture, and the primary reason it is still a lucrative business today.  Horse racing is still very popular across the United States, with the Triple Crown races especially garnering the attention of the American public.  In a typical year the Kentucky Derby is the second most bet on event in the United States next to only the Super Bowl.  Horse race betting is alive and well here in the USA.

On this page I will give you all the info you need to start betting on horse races online from here in the United States.  I’ve outlined our three top rated betting sites for Americans (each one with a terrific racebook) and also broken down the most popular bets you can make on a horse race.  You will also find a simple 3 step guide to help you place your horse racing wagers online and a list of our recent articles outlining how to bet on upcoming races.

Where To Bet On Horse Races From The USA

Sportsbook Rating Bonus Review Visit
50% up to $1000 Review Visit
100% up to $250 Review Visit
50% up to $1000 Review Visit

These are our three top rated betting sites for Americans.  Each of the sites have a dedicated “Horses” section of their site with a racebook separate from the regular sportsbook.

Click any of the reviews above to learn more about each betting site.  There is a dedicate racebook section in each review.

Always look at the horse racing rules for the sportsbook you wager at.  The bet and payout limits will be different depending on which track and race you are betting on.  It would be awful to hit a big long shot and only receive half the payout because of the payout limits on that specific track.  Always know the track and race limits/rules to avoid this happening to you.

Horse Racing Bets

The first thing you need to figure out when betting on a horse race is whether the bet you’re making is using fixed odds or the parimutuel betting odds system.  In general if you place your bet through the “sportsbook” section of the site then the odds will be fixed, but if you bet through the “horses” section of the site then the odds will use the parimutuel betting system.

Basically, if the bet is placed at fixed odds your wager is locked in at the odds you placed you bet at.  On the flip side, with the parimutuel betting system the odds will vary up until the race depending on the amount of money bet on each horse relative to the total amount bet into that market.

Win, Place, Show

Win, Place and Show are the most common horse racing wagers and simply involve betting on a horse to win the race, come top two or top three.

A win bet is a wager on the horse actually winning the race (finishing first).

A place bet is a wager on the horse coming first or second.

A show bet is a wager on the horse finishing in the top 3.

Here’s a screenshot from Bovada.lv racebook showing how you would bet on the Win, Place or Show.

Exotic

Exotic bets are similar to parlay bets in typical sports betting.  They involve wagering on more than one outcome at the same time, either in the same race or across multiple races.

An exacta bet is the simplest form of exotic bet.  It involves betting on which horse will finish first, and which horse will finish second, in the same race.  Each horse must finish in the exact position chosen for the bet to win.

The most elaborate and famous exotic bet, and the one you often hear about, is the superfecta.  It involves betting on which horse will finish first, second, third, and fourth, in the same race.  Each horse must finish in the exact position for the superfecta bet to win.  Superfecta bets are typically $1 wagers and it’s not unheard of them to payout ridiculous sums (tens of thousands) at major races.

Here’s an example of what a superfecta bet would look like at Bovada.lv:

In this example I’ve picked a horse for the first three finishing positions and then selected all remaining horses for the 4th position.  This will create 5 different superfecta bets.

3 Step Guide to Betting on Horse Racing Online

Follow this simple 3 step guide to get your horse racing bets placed online within minutes.

Step 1. Open An Online Betting Account

First you will need to open an account at any of the three sportsbooks I’ve outlined above.  For this guide I will be using Bovada, which is the site that offers the widest variety of race tracks and the highest track limits of our three recommended sportsbooks.  The Bovada racebook is very easy to navigate from both a computer or a mobile device.

Click here to visit Bovada.lv.  Then click on the red ‘Join Now’ button and complete the registration form to open your account.

Sportsbook Rating Bonus Review Visit
100% up to $250 Review Visit

Step 2. Deposit

Bovada accepts Visa, MasterCard, Bitcoin, Ethereum, and MatchPay deposits.  When you’re ready to cash out your winnings you can choose either Bitcoin, Ethereum, check by courier or bank transfer.

New sign ups receive a 50% matching bonus up to $250 on your first deposit.  By signing up through our link you are entitled to the bonus.

Step 3. Place Your Horse Wagers

It’s now time to place your bets!

Once on the Bovada website click on ‘Horses’ from the top menu bar to head to the “racebook” section of the site.  Once on the Horses page select the track you wish to bet on from ‘All Tracks’ drop down menu.

Next you will have to scroll to the race you want to bet on from that track. Select the bet you want to make to add it to your Bet Slip. Enter your Stake amount on the Bet Slip and click ‘Place Bet’ to make your wager.

Here’s a screenshot where I’ve selected a Win bet on Race #1 at Santa Anita Park.  I have Win/Place/Show selected, but you can also select Exacta, Trifecta and more from the ‘Win/Place/Show’ drop down menu as shown in the screenshot.

Ready to bet?  Click here to visit Bovada.lv.

Horse Race Betting Articles

How To Bet On 2024 Preakness Stakes From North Carolina

It’s Preakness week! The 2024 Preakness Stakes will take place at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland this Saturday, May 18th. The race has a post time of 6:58pm EST...

How To Bet On The 2024 Preakness Stakes From the USA

It’s Preakness week! The 2024 Preakness Stakes will take place this Saturday, May 18th at Pimlico Race Course. The Preakness will once again take place on it’s traditional date on...