Types of Horse Racing Bets

Before making a wager on any horse race, it is essential to understand the different markets that are available. Only after you have understood the various betting markets available will you be able to safely make bets on the racing action. You will be able to learn all about the different markets available to bet on throughout this article, with examples given on each bet type.

Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Horse Racing

Straight Betting

The most simple way to make a bet on the horse racing action can be found with straight betting. There are three different types of bets in this section, and you can find out more about them in this section.

Win Betting

The most popular way to bet on the horse racing action is by putting a wager on the horse that you think will win the race. This market must see the gambler put their wager on the horse that will be first past the post. 

If your selection isn’t the first, then you will not get the returns from the selection. For example, if you make the wager below:

  • Essential Quality @ 3/1 for the Kentucky Derby

The selection and odds above will only see customers get their returns should it be successful. Should you put $10 on the bet, and Essential Quality wins the Kentucky Derby, then you will be given $40 in returns. However, if it finishes second or in any other position, then the bet is lost.

Place Betting

Place betting is popular with gamblers that feel that an outsider has a chance of finishing first or second. Returns will be awarded should the selection finish in any of those places. However, making a place bet on a short-priced favorite isn’t the best bet, as the returns will not be as rewarding.

Show Betting

The final type of straight bet available for gamblers is show betting. This is similar to place betting, but instead, the market also covers third past the post. If your selection finishes in the top three, then you will get returns from a wager made on this market.

Exacta/ Reverse Exacta Betting

Picking a winner on one of the Triple Crown races may be daunting enough by itself. However, gamblers can also explore the Exacta and Reverse Exacta markets. For this market, gamblers must correctly predict the horses that finish in the first two places. You can see an example below:


  • Essential Quality/ Highly Motivated


In the layout found above, the gambler will be betting on Essential Quality to win and Highly Motivated to finish second. The Exacta market will mean that the selections have to come in the correct order to get the returns. However, the Reverse Exacta will mean that the selections came come in any order, as long as they are the first two horses past the post.

Trifecta/ Reverse Trifecta

Like the Exacta and Reverse Exacta market, the Trifecta/ Reverse Trifecta works in a similar way. However, instead of predicting the first two finishers, gamblers must correctly stake their money on the horses in the first three. The Reverse Trifecta will mean that the selections can come in any position in the top three, while the Trifecta market will mean that all selections have to be in the correct finishing order.


This market is one of the most difficult available to gamblers, which means that extensive research must be carried out before making a wager on the market. However, the returns can be hugely lucrative should you have a winning pick on this selection.

Ante-Post Betting

One of the best ways to get value on selections is by making bets in advance of declarations being made. Some of the most popular races, such as the Kentucky Derby and Grand National, will see sportsbooks offer prices up to a year before the race taking place. 

There are positives and negatives of betting on the ante-post market, but the biggest plus is the enhanced odds that you can expect to get. You can see an example below:


  • Ante-Post Price: Cloth Cap- 25/1

  • Five Days Before The Grand National: Cloth Cap- 7/2


As you can see from the example above, the odds of the favorite for the 2021 Grand National were much higher when the market was opened. Gamblers who took the ante-post price could get $260 from a $10 wager, while those betting on the selection just before the race would only get returns of $45.

The ante-post markets also come with an element of risk, as some sportsbooks will not give money back on selections should the horse not be declared for the race that you have bet on. However, as the gambler, you will need to weigh up the pros and cons before making a selection on this market.


As is the case with betting on all races, gamblers should do extensive research before making a bet. That includes looking at the race history and the latest form of the horses involved.