Horse race betting is something of a fine art. When you go to the racetrack, whether you are betting on the races that are happening right there on site or through a televised “simulcast,” you are using a menu of wagers that is relatively standard. What we mean is that you can bet on the following:
— Win, place and show (first, second and third)
— Perfecta or Exacta (the first two finishers in order)
— Quinella (the first two finishers, in either order)
— Trifecta (first three finishers in order)
— Superfecta (first four finishers in order)
— Perfecta, Trifecta or Superfecta boxes (first two, three or four finishers, in any order – requires a series of bets)
— Wheels (placing on or two horses in a fixed position and using any number of horses with it on a ticket)
There are also other options that can be exercised in horse racing. These include:
— Daily doubles, where you would have to select the winners of the first two races of the day, or two other races that were designated.
— Pick Three, which, to collect, would require you to have a ticket with the winners of three designated races.
— Pick Six, which requires you to wager on the winners of six consecutive races.
You can do these same things when you wager at an online racebook as well. And when you do, you are being paid at “track odds,” meaning whatever the odds paid at the track itself.
There is a bit of a difference betting horse races in a racebook and betting them in an online sportsbook. Some of the numbers are the same, but there are a lot of factors that differ, as well as some options that you will never find when you go to the racetrack.
To begin with, while most of the credible online racebooks will carry every major track in the country, and in fact the world, with an entire race card every day the track is not “dark” (i.e., closed), an online sportsbook will more than likely only carry odds on major races.
For those customers in the United States, that would mean the Triple Crown races (Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes), the Breeders Cup, and the possibility of some Triple Crown prep races (like the Santa Anita Derby or the Florida Derby), as well as other major races throughout the year, such as the Travers Stakes or Kentucky Oaks. Selected international races could be part of this menu as well, like the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot or the Dubai World Cup. Of course, if the sportsbook faces more of an international audience, a more extensive list of international thoroughbred racing events will be covered.
The propositions available at an online sportsbook will present more possibilities than would a racebook, by and large. For example, in a racebook, which generally carries what they have available at the track, you couldn’t bet on the following:
— Which horse will finish last
— Horse vs. horse propositions (who’ll cross the finish line first)
— Time at the quarter-mile mark
— Time at the half-mile mark
— Time of the race
— Whether an even or odd number will win
— The price the winner will pay
— The perfecta payout
— The trifecta payout
— That day’s handle at the racetrack
And believe us, there’s more. Generally, it is only limited to the sportsbook’s imagination. So as you can see, there are a lot of additional things you would have the opportunity to handicap when playing the horses.
Of course, if you are taking the more conventional approach, you are going to make use of a number of possible handicapping tools, the most notable of which is the Daily Racing Form, better known as “the Form.” Here, you have the chance to study past performances of each of the horses that are in any race, and consider any factors you feel are important.
For instance, you may be looking for a horse that shows late speed, or one that shows you that it can handle a particular distance. maybe, in some of the lower-profile races, you like to figure jockeys or trainers into the picture more prominently; after all, some of them do especially well at certain tracks. Some horse racing bettors like to play “turf to dirt,” while others wait for opportunities to favor certain horses on an “off-track.” Breeding is also a critical factor when it comes to determining how thoroughbreds might be able to perform in a given situation.
We could go on and on, but there is one statistic that has gained much favor in recent years. It is called the Beyer Speed Figure, and it was conceived by noted handicapper and columnist Andrew Beyer. The “Beyer” reduces to a simple number a horse’s performance in a race. It is derived by the time the horse ran and also factors in the conditions over which the race was run. It can function as an equalizer, as it can offer some insight as to whether a horse can handle a move up in class, but they should never be used as a stand-alone. There are always other things to couple it with.
All of this data is there for the bettor to utilize in the process of making a wagering decision. And there is no single, solitary approach that is deemed to be “best.” If you are a relative beginner, it is important that you know the fundamentals of how to read the past performances, as well as how to make certain wagers that are available to you.