The weather’s getting warmer and things are heating up at all six of our tracks! This year, get in on the action by placing bets online or in person at any of Pennsylvania’s racetracks.

Not sure how to make a wager? Worry not! We’re breaking down racehorse betting to show you just how simple and convenient it can be. Trust us, it’s only the first wager that seems daunting and, soon enough, you’ll be betting like a pro.


The Different Kinds of Bets

Before you can place your first bet, you’ll need to understand the different types of wagers available to you. There are two types of bets you can place depending on how many horses you want to bank on:

  • Standard wagers – These bets are placed on one horse and generally have lower minimums than their counterpart.
  • Exotic wagers – Bettors placing exotic wagers are betting on the placement of multiple horses. These types of bets generally have higher minimums, but in turn, pay higher dividends to winners.

Let’s explore standard wagers first, as they’re a more common and straightforward way of betting.

Patrick Morrell at Presque Isle Downs holds a program as he makes his announcements.

Standard Wagers

Standard wagers are placed on only one horse—but not necessarily for them to win. There are actually three types of standard wagers you can make depending on how well you think a horse will do:

  • Win bet – Pick this if you think a horse will take home the crown. Win bets have the lowest likelihood of winning and, thus, pay out the highest.
  • Place bet – If you think your horse will finish either first or second, make a place bet and cash out if they take home either position.
  • Show bet – Have a feeling your horse will finish with a gold, silver, or bronze medal? A show bet nets you a win if your pick comes in any of the top three positions.


Exotic Wagers

If you’ve got the hang of standard wagers and want to amp up the complexity (and payout) of your bets, try placing an exotic wager. These bets predict the positions of more than one horse. During a single race, you can place:

  • Exacta bets – These predict the top two finishers in the correct order.
  • Trifecta bets – This style of wager predicts first, second, and third positions in the correct order.
  • Superfecta bets – Like the exacta and trifecta, except they predict the first four horses in the right order.
  • Super high-five bets – You guessed it: predict the first five horses in the correct order and you’ll take home this massive jackpot. If no one wins a super high-five during a race, the pot is carried over onto the next round.

Aside from exotic wagers on singular races, you can also place them across multiple pools of competitors. There are several different kinds of multi-race exotics, including:

  • Daily doubles – Predict back-to-back winners to bring home this prize.
  • Pick three, four, five, or six – The more winners you predict in a row, the more your total prize will be. Picking three to six champions is no easy feat, however, so you’ll need some strategy or luck to pull it off.


How to Choose a Horse

There’s no set way to pick a winning equine athlete. Whether it’s checking the weather or reading up on horses’ pedigrees, each seasoned bettor has their own system.

To get started, you can simply choose contestants by their names or play the favorite. Eventually, you’ll come to develop your own process that you can apply to both online bets or wagers at the track.

Everyone has their own strategy for picking a horse. If you’re a beginner, there’s no shame in picking which name, lucky number, or favorite driver/jockey speaks to you!

Betting Online: The Convenient Way to Place a Wager

If you want to place a wager over the internet, the first order of business is selecting which track’s races you want to bet on. The Pennsylvania Horse Racing Association (PHRA) features six different racetracks with online betting platforms:

After landing on your track of choice, create an account to join the wagering fun. To make your first bet, you’ll need to know:

  • The track you’re betting at
  • The name of the race you’re keen to bet on
  • The name(s) or number(s) of the horse(s) you want to pick

Likewise, you’ll also need to make two key decisions:

  • The type of bet(s) you want to place
  • How much you want to wager

Online betting is simple as there are no ticket stubs to keep track of or collection windows to head to. Once completed, all you have to do is watch your race and, if you win, your account will automatically be credited with your earnings.


Betting at the Track: The Electrifying Way to Join the Action

Online wagers are fun and convenient, but the electric atmosphere of a busy, bustling racetrack is a truthfully unforgettable experience that everyone should try for themselves. Pennsylvania has six exceptional tracks where you can bet in person:

Show up to any of these tracks and you’ll likely hear the commotion from the race book zone from quite a distance away. Once you reach this area, you’ll be presented with programs or TV screens displaying the day’s races and competitors. After making your selections, approach any of the teller’s windows (or betting kiosks) and tell them:

  • What race you want to bet on
  • The kind of wager you want to place
  • The horses you’ve selected
  • How much you want to bet

That’s it! Afterward, you’ll be presented with a ticket confirming your choices. Retain this in case your predictions come true then return to the betting area after the race to cash out your winnings.

From the thundering hoofbeats to the cheers from the crowd, there’s nothing quite like watching a horse race live!

Where to Turn for Betting Assistance and Advice

If you’re at the track, any of the establishment’s knowledgeable tellers should be able to answer questions regarding horses’ odds, race conditions, and other general inquiries. Likewise, the seasoned regulars hanging around the betting zone may also have key insights into the sport and are likely happy to share them with you.

If you’re betting online, become a Wager Warrior to instantly gain an advantage over other bettors. When you sign up, you’ll gain access to our tracks’ Past Performances (PP)—a privilege usually reserved for premium subscribers willing to pay for the information. With this data, you’ll be able to assess horses’ previous races, get a sense of their abilities, and pick more winners with your future bets.

Still have questions? Become a Wager Warrior!

Keep an Eye on the PHRA’s Events Calendar to Enjoy the Thrill of Betting

The PHRA’s stake racing season officially kicked off on March 27th with the PA Bred Stake Races at Parx Racing. If you missed it, don’t worry: It’s shaping up to be an electrifying year with a plethora of exhilarating harness and thoroughbred races to witness!

To make sure you catch all the action, pay attention to our events calendar and make a plan to watch (or better yet, attend) every race. Remember, you can’t win if you don’t bet, so head online or to a track near you to experience the thrills of betting on Pennsylvania’s premier equine athletes.

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