How to bet on horse racing & conditions to know

If you’re new to horse racing or just need a refresher on how things work with the ponies, don’t worry.

We’ve got a basic glossary of terms below to help you bet the ponies as we start this weekend’s long road to the Kentucky Derby with the Grade III Lecomte Stakes on Saturday at Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans.


Stay tuned for full in-depth coverage and picks on this year’s Road to the Kentucky Derby from handicappers Andie Biancone and Jeremy Pond, who will give their detailed thoughts and best bets for the prep races.


Where to bet on horse racing

Some state racing associations, for example NYRA, offer an app that allows users to place bets. There are OTBs (Off-Track Betting Stores) in the United States.

You can also go to any race track and bet on the Derby preparation races – or any race across the country for that matter. And in some states there are select bars with gambling kiosks. My favorite place to bet horses is Churchill’s in Rockville Center, a beautiful village on Long Island.

You are always welcome to come by.

Bet types: Exacta, Trifecta and more

There are plenty of ways to bet on horse racing, and while they’re pretty simple once you get the hang of them, you might hear some weird street slang. Here’s a quick rundown of the basics:

To win: A bet on a particular horse to win. Easy enough, right?

Places: A bet on a particular horse to finish second.

Show: A bet on a particular horse to finish third.

Win, place, show: A bet on a particular horse to win, place (finish second) or show (finish third). In other words, if the horse you bet on finishes first, second or third, you win.

Exactly: A bet on two horses to finish first and second, in order. In other words, if you bet an exacta with Knight No. 12 and Horse No. 20 and hit a 12/20 exacta, Horse No. 12 should finish first and Horse No. 20 should finish second. This is different from an exacta box (defined below). You can bet exactly with more than two horses.

Exacta box: An exact bet, but it doesn’t matter which horse finishes first and which horse finishes second. Example: If you play an exacta box with horse No. 12, No. 20 and No. 7 and Horse No. 7 finishes first and Horse No. 20 comes second, then you are a winner. There is no limit to the number of horses you can place in an exacta box.

Trifecta: A bet where the first three finishers are chosen in exact order. In short, an exacta with three horses instead of two.

Trifecta box: Same concept as the exacta box, except for the first three finishers: A trifecta bet where you don’t have to finish your horses in the exact order to win. There is no limit to the number of horses you can place in a trifecta box.

Superfecta: A bet where you choose four horses to finish first, second, third and fourth in exact order.

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