Beyond the sheer joy of watching Thoroughbreds performing on the track, many racing fans enjoy wagering on the outcome. It adds to the excitement and increases interest in the signature sport of the commonwealth.
For the newcomer, penetrating the lingo of horserace wagering can seem like learning a foreign language. It can be done, though. Here’s a little help.
Pari-mutuel wagering means “betting among ourselves” and therefore combines wagers into a common pool. The odds are determined by the amount wagered on each contestant. Winners are paid according to these calculated odds.
When at the track or a simulcast wagering facility, the track extracts a commission from all wagers made, and redistributes the remaining funds among the winners. The racetrack has no interest in the outcome of a race because the track receives its commission per wager.
The state also receives a share. Under the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority, horse racing tax rates range from 1.5 percent to 3.5 percent. For tracks with a daily average handle of $1.2 million or above, there is a tax rate of 3.5 percent of all money wagered during the fiscal year. Tracks with a daily average handle under $1.2 million have a tax rate of 1.5 percent of all money wagered during the fiscal year.
Money goes to specially earmarked funds that are devoted specifically to financing equine drug research and testing; Standardbred development; Thoroughbred development; construction, expansion or renovation of facilities and equipment for equine programs at state universities; and the equine industry program at the University of Louisville.
According to state government tax expenditure analyses, those earmarked are expected to total $40.3 million in fiscal 2008, $70.5 million in fiscal 2009 and $72.4 million in fiscal 2010.
There are many kinds of bets you can make at the track. Some are more complex than others, and in turn have greater payoffs because they create higher odds of picking the correct outcome.
To make sure a bet is placed into the overall pool in the proper manner, there is a verbal formula to the way in which a bettor states a wager at the betting window. Here is a look at the betting process. Good luck!
How to Place a Bet
• State the NAME of the Track
• State the RACE NUMBER
• State the AMOUNT of the Bet
• State the TYPE of Bet
• State the NUMBER of the Horse
WIN – Your horse finishes first.
PLACE – Your horse finishes first or second.
SHOW – Your horse finishes first, second or third.
WIN/PLACE – You buy two tickets: One bet on your horse to WIN. One bet on your horse to PLACE.
PLACE/SHOW – You buy two tickets: One bet on your horse to PLACE. One bet on your horse to SHOW.
ACROSS THE BOARD – You buy three tickets: One bet on your horse to WIN. One bet on your horse to PLACE. One bet on your horse to SHOW.
You can increase the payout for a bet with higher-odds wagers on the exact order of finish by multiple horses.
EXACTA – You pick the first two horses in exact order of finish.
TRIFECTA – You pick the first three horses in exact order of finish.
SUPERFECTA – You pick the first four horses in exact order of finish.
Improving Your Odds
BOXES AND WHEELS – You can increase your chances of winning with boxes and wheels because they allow you to combine bets on multiple horses on one ticket.
A BOX – Combines your picks to finish in every possible combination. Example: If you bet a “Trifecta box of 4-5-6,” you win if those three horses finish first, second and third in any order.
A WHEEL – Combines one horse in a specific finish with all of the other horses in the race. Example: If you bet an “Exacta Wheel 3-All,” you win your exacta bet if the No. 3 horse wins no matter which of the rest of the field comes in second.
A PARTIAL WHEEL – Lets you pick only some of the possible combinations, and costs less than a complete wheel. Example: If you bet an “Exacta Partial Wheel No. 3 with the 1-2-4,” you win the bet if the 3 horse wins and 1, 2 or 4 horse finishes second.
DAILY DOUBLE – You pick the winners of two consecutive races.
DAILY DOUBLE WHEEL – Pick two or more horses in one or both races
PICK THREE – You pick the winners of three consecutive races.
PICK THREE WHEEL – Pick two or more horses in one or more of three races
PICK FOUR – You pick the winners of four consecutive races.
PICK FOUR WHEEL – Pick two or more horses in one or more of the four races
PICK SIX – You pick the winners of six consecutive races.
PICK SIX WHEEL – Pick two or more horses in one or more of the six races.
Factors to Study
There are many factors to consider in assessing a horse’s chances in a given race. Much of the information is available in the race day program; other information requires outside research or an accumulation of personal experience and acquired knowledge. Here are the primary factors used to assess horses.
Pedigree: A horse’s ancestral line. If a horse’s sire or dam were race winners, then chances are that horse could be a winner also.
Trainer: The person responsible for a horse’s development and race preparation. Not to be confused with the owner, whose claim to the horse is purely financial.
Jockey: The person who rides the horse during a race.
Class: The level or quality of race at which a horse is running. Most well-known races are graded, Grade I being the highest, Grade III the lowest.
For instance, if a horse that normally runs in only graded races were to step down in class and run in a non-graded race, that horse would be a sure favorite. If a horse were stepping up in class, that horse might, though not always, be less of a favorite. Movements between class are a great way to distinguish horses in a given race.
Track: The actual place where the race is held. Often a horse that races well on one track will struggle on another.
Pace: How a horse likes to run a race. Some horses like to take the lead early and try to hold it, others like to reserve energy and come from behind. Pace and the distance of a race go hand-in-hand.
Speed: How fast a horse usually runs. Speed horses generally take to the lead early and establish pace. Those with stamina hope to outduel speed runners by the end of the race.