How to Bet on Dirt Tracks

There isn’t a more common sight for horse racing fans in North America than races taking place on a dirt surface. All three of the significant Triple Crown events throughout the season take place on the dirt, with the most popular of these being the Kentucky Derby, which kicks off the Triple Crown season for three-year-olds. However, unlike betting on all-weather surfaces and turf racing, there are a number of factors that must be taken into consideration before making a wager.

See also How to Bet on Turf Racing

What Is Dirt Racing?

Dirt racing is the surface that many of the big Graded races around the world takes place on. As well as the Preakness Stakes, Kentucky Derby, and Belmont Stakes, international-graded affairs such as the Dubai World Cup and Saudi Cup also take place on the dirt.


The surface is essential to consider before placing a bet, as the races that take place on dirt largely depend on gamblers researching the conditions of the surface and comparing how horses have performed on that said surface in the past. The different tracks around the United States also have a bias towards a particular style of racing, and that is also important information that gamblers should look into.

What Are The Biggest Differences?

The most critical factors that gamblers must consider before placing a bet on the dirt are how the track plays. Some tracks favor certain racing styles, which means that specific horses will stand out as credible challengers. 

For example, certain tracks will favor horses that make the quickest start, while others will be more beneficial for those that are willing to sit behind the front-runners before making their challenge in the final stages.


Understanding the track bias is pivotal when it comes to betting on dirt racing. Comparing course form is also important when betting on turf and all-weather surfaces, but it isn’t nearly as vital as when betting on dirt. 

Unlike betting on the other surfaces, studying the speed figures and pace handicaps are essential when it comes to wagering on dirt. This is the best way to find out the actual pace of the horse and therefore help to find a horse that stands the best chance of winning the race. Both of these factors are less important on the other surfaces, as they are more tactical affairs.


How To Bet On Dirt Racing

Betting on dirt racing is prevalent throughout the season, as there are hundreds of Grade 1, Grade 2, and Grade 3 affairs in the United States. However, the most popular races, such as the Kentucky Derby, attract novices to make wagers. Before making a bet on the huge races, it is crucial to understand all the markets that will be available when placing wagers on dirt races.

Win Betting

The most straightforward wager that gamblers can place on the dirt racing throughout the season can be found in the win market. For gamblers to get a winner on this market, they must correctly stake their wager on the horse that will win the race. Should your selection not cross the line as the winner, then you won’t get the returns.

Place Betting

Those looking to place a bet on an outsider in the market may be more tempted to place a wager on the place market. Here, you will simply need your selection to finish in a place position. The place positions are outlined by the sportsbook that you’re betting with. Typically the first two spots are the place positions for smaller fields, while bigger fields will offer three places. If your selection finishes in any of these spots, then you will be given the returns.

Exacta/Trifecta Betting

One of the most intricate bets that gamblers can make on any type of horse racing can be found in the Exacta and Trifecta markets. In the Exacta market, the gambler must stake their money on the horses that finish in the first two positions in the correct finishing order. Meanwhile, the Trifecta market will see gamblers have to correctly predict the first three horses that finish the race in the correct finishing order. The returns in these markets are more lucrative, but it is much harder to achieve a winning bet.

Biggest Dirt Races To Bet On

As we mentioned, dirt racing takes place throughout the season in North America. However, it isn’t just in North America where the biggest races on dirt take place. The dirt is a prominent race surface for many of the biggest Graded contests, and these races have the biggest prize purses available to trainers and owners. You can see some of the most significant races to take place on the dirt below: