Sports Betting

How Horse Betting Works (4 Types and Pick Best Winning)

As a beginner, you must be confused how horse betting works. Well, it can be intimidating to new players. The sport uses distance measures which originated in the early 15th century.

It seems like you need a degree in calculus or even civil engineering to learn the details provided on the horses themselves. The bets are also confusing here, once you get past the traditional win bets. 

With that note, we have done this beginner’s guide to betting horse racing. It will be helpful for you to navigate the lingo, help you in evaluating horses and give you the right tools to enjoy a day at races. 


  • Online and land-based casino or racetrack in horse betting works
  • The odd works similar to poker game
  • Picking the right horse winner

How Horse Betting Works Actually?

There are two basic options on how horse betting works: going online or betting in person at a casino or racetrack. 

If you want to make a bet in person, you need to verbalize your bet to the teller, including the track you are betting on, the race number horse entered in, the amount you are betting, the betting type you are placing and the saddlecloth number of the horse you expect to bet on. 

A standard bet will sound like this: “Churchill Downs, in race 5. I would like to bet MYR 20 to win on the No. 7 horse.” If your horse wins, then you would carry your ticket back up to the counter to cash it in.

However, if you use a mobile or desktop to place your bet on online sports betting Malaysia site, then you will simply fill out the betting slip. All your winnings will be automatically credited to your Bank account.

How Does Odd Work in Horse Racing?

Unlike sports betting where the pregame odds are all fixed, how horse betting works uses a pari-mutuel betting system. It means the public bets against each other and not the house. 

In addition, the money is pooled together and the more money placed on one horse to win, the smaller the payout for that winning bet will be. The similar holds for place bets (betting on which horse comes in second), show bets (betting on which horse comes in third), and exotic bets like exacts, and trifectas. 

The importance of playing poker and betting on horse racing is similar. You will be against all the other players.

If you are smarter than the others, you will make money regardless of how much the house deducts from the antes or how much the racetrack takeout is.

Furthermore, the odds at the time of your bet can also change dramatically by post time as new money will go into the pool. Then, if you bet on a horse with 10 minutes left to post at 10 – 1, there will be no guarantee those odds will be the same once the race is run. 

Type of Races in Horse Betting

After knowing how horse betting works, this type of gambling can be divided into 4 board categories. Here are some races that you should know before placing a bet. 

1. A Maiden Race

A maiden race is for horses that have never won and is separated into two categories: maiden special weight and maiden claiming races. Maiden special weight races on how horse betting works are for the flop quality maiden horses that are commonly expected to break their maiden fastly and move up in class. Unlike in maiden claiming races. the horses can’t be claimed. 

2. A Claiming Race

On how horse betting works, a claiming race is a race in which every horse running can be “claimed” or bought after the race. To make the fields competitive, the horses are matched by value. Otherwise, if a horse is too good for the field, then it can be claimed at a  cheaper price, while if a horse is not worth the value of the other entrants. It probably will not fare very well. 

3. Allowance Race

This type of race on how horse betting works has set conditions, with horses bringing different weights based on those conditions. The factors that affect how much weight a horse brings include past performances at the distance and how well the horse has performed in the same races.

The typical allowance conditions are for non-winners of one race. It means the horse can’t have won a race besides the maiden race (created as N1x); non-winners of 2 races (N2x); non-winners of 3 races (N3x) and non-winners of 4 races (N4x). 

4. Stakes Races

This race can be listed stakes or graded stakes, separated into Grade 1, Grade 2 and Grade 3 events. For a horse to be qualified to run in a stakes race. In addition, the owner’s must pay either a nomination fee, an entry fee that are added to the purse money. 

The Graded stakes races on how horse betting works have a minimum purse amount of MYR 350.000. The higher the purse, then the higher the grade of the stakes. The Grade 1 stakes include big-name events, such as Triple Crown races. 

The Grade 2 stakes are slightly inferior, however, there is a big drop off from Grade 1 and Grade 2 races to Grade 3 and listed stakes. For all races, the higher means a better competition. 

How to Pick the Winning Horse

We have done with horse betting odds explained. Now, let’s learn how to pick the winning horse. Our goal is to give a first time race spectator enough information that he can go to a casino or racetrack and not feel like he is just randomly choosing the horse to win. We would love for all you horse racing junkies to chime in with the tips for our new horseplayers. 

Get Yourself Familiar by Reading the Race Day Program

Your ability to successfully handicap how horse betting works will depend on your skill to read the race day program. The program is packed with the information that you can use to make smarter bets. This way, you will find a section for every race that day with the statistics and history on all the horses racing in a certain race. 

In addition, the lines of numbers and lingo in a program can be a bit confusing at first. With your little practice, you will be reading like a pro in no time.

Check What Class Levels the Horse Has Been Racing at

On how horse betting works, there are different levels of competition or classes. As you go up in class, you will find better performing horses and higher purses. Racetracks try to have races with the horses at a similar level of competition. 

Horses will move up and down classes throughout the year, based on their performance and oftentimes a change in class can affect whether a horse will win or lose. 

Past Performance on Surface Type

The racetracks on how horse betting works have different surfaces that the horses run on. Some races have natural dirt and grass tracks while others have artificial all-weather tracks. 

Horses will perform differently on each type of surface. Yes, some horses love dirt tracks, however, they don’t like the feel of artificial tracks and vice versa. In addition, the program will tell you every horse’s past performance on the different surface types.

If a horse has performed good only on dirt and the track you are at in an all-weather, you can consider eliminating her from your list of possible picks. 


Yes, you can simply use some random superstitious factor to handicap on how horse betting works. You can choose the horse that is wearing your lucky number or your favorite color. Or, you can also choose the horse as you like the name. A lot of racegoers have their own stupid handicap factors they use. You can come up with your own!

Final Words

In conclusion, there are 2 basic options on how horse betting works that you can decide: from online or betting at a casino or racetrack. Most importantly, you need to learn the types of racetrack before making a bet. It is very important to check the history performance of your favorite horse. 


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