What is Holding You Back from Betting on Horse Racing?

This was at the Golden Gate Fields in 2017, from Wikipedia.

When you are betting online, how often do you visit your sportsbook’s racebook section? Alas, as US bettor, we are guessing your answer is “not a lot”, or maybe even “never.”

Horse racing is a popular sport around the world, but it isn’t nearly as big in America as it is in many other countries.

Sports bettors may shy away from betting on horse racing for any number of reasons, but if that is true for you, you are missing out on lots of exciting betting opportunities!

In this post, I will attempt to examine and dispel common objections to betting on horse racing, with a special focus on US bettors. By the time you reach the end of this post, I hope you will have a deeper understanding and appreciation for horse racing, and feel ready to give watching and wagering on this thrilling sport a try.

Where to Bet on Horse Racing

If you are not sure where to wager on horse racing, there are a lot of solid options in 2024. Here are some of our top recommendations.

  1. Bovada

Bovada is one of the top US-facing sportsbooks, and generally has one of the largest selections of sports and betting markets. Naturally, they do not disappoint when it comes to horse racing. To see the selection of bets available at Bovada on horse racing, click on “Horses” in the top menu on the site. Here are just a few of the tracks where you can bet on horses at Bovada:

  • Australia A-D
  • Bath-UK
  • Charles Town
  • Del Mar
  • Delaware Park
  • Emerald Downs
  • Fairmount Park
  • Hastings Park
  • Indiana Downs
  • Meadows
  • Saratoga

…and much, much more!

At the time of this writing, I see action on Gulfstream Park, Saratoga, Del Mar, Monmouth, Breeders’ Cup and more.

Bet types include:

  • Win/place/show
  • Exacta
  • Trifecta
  • Superfecta
  • Daily Double
  • Pick 3

Bovada offers a hefty sports welcome bonus to crypto gamblers: a $750 Match on your first deposit. The Welcome Offer on the casino side is $3,750! There is a brand new $5K in Crypto ongoing contest for a game called Crypto Miner, a Rewards Program, and other fantastic promotions you can take advantage of as well.

  1. BetOnline

Another of our top recommended sports betting sites is BetOnline, which has now been operating for more than 25 years! You can click on “racebook” in their top menu to get to their horse racing area, or you can find it listed under “horse racing” in the left sidebar when you are browsing through all their sports.

Just as Bovada offers a huge selection of racetracks, so does BetOnline. Here are just a few:

  • Canterbury Park
  • Colonial Downs
  • Delta Downs
  • Ellis Park
  • Ferndale
  • Hawthorne
  • Laurel Park
  • Louisiana Downs
  • Mountaineer Park

…and more!

Betting markets that BetOnline offers for horse racing include:

  • Win/place/show
  • Exacta
  • Trifecta
  • Superfecta
  • Pick 3

By signing up for a new account at BetOnline, you can claim a 50% Welcome Bonus up to $1,000. You also can qualify for a 100% 1st Time Crypto Bonus as well as a 100% Casino Welcome Bonus. When you reload your bankroll for sports betting, 25% Match Bonuses are available to you. The reload bonuses jump up to 30% if you deposit crypto.

What is also awesome is that BetOnline offers a 9% Horse Racing Rebate. They claim that these are the highest track rebates in the industry, and they might be right, we can’t think of anything we have seen that is higher.

  1. MyBookie

MyBookie is another top betting site for horse racing. Check in the top menu for the link to “Racing” to go to their racebook. On this site, you will find another huge selection of tracks for horse racing betting, such as:

  • Arapahoe Park
  • Belterra
  • Delaware Park
  • Emerald Downs
  • Fairmount Park
  • Los Alamitos
  • Remington Park
  • Retama Park

…and more.

Types of bets you can place at MyBookie on horse racing include:

  • Win/place/show
  • Exacta
  • Trifecta
  • Superfecta
  • Daily Double
  • Pick 3
  • Parlay

When you open a new account, MyBookie will give you a 50% Match on your first deposit up to $1,000, or a 10% Cash Bonus up to $200. There are generous 50% Sports Reload Bonuses along with some additional casino bonuses.

MyBookie offers an 8% Horse Rebate as well. That is not quite as high as what BetOnline is offering, but it is close!

  1. SportsBetting.ag

The company that owns BetOnline currently also owns SportsBetting.ag. While the site was in trouble when they bought it, they completely turned it around, and it is now just as awesome as BetOnline itself. That was all many years ago now! Ever since, we have had nothing but the best experience wagering on this site.

You can get to the horse racing part of the site by clicking on “Racebook” in the top menu at SportsBetting.ag.

As far as we can tell, the overall selection of racetracks and bet types is the same at this site as it is at BetOnline, which makes sense.

Bonuses at SportsBetting.ag look similar to what BetOnline offers as well, including the generous 9% Daily Horse Rebate.

  1. Xbet

The company that operates MyBookie operates Xbet as well. Naturally, it is another excellent choice for betting on horse racing. You can click on “Racing” in the site’s top menu to go to the Xbet racebook. Expect a similar selection of racetracks and bets to what you will find on MyBookie.

When you join Xbet, you can claim a Welcome Bonus of up to $500 on your first deposit for sports betting. The same bonus is available for the casino. There are sports Reload Bonuses up to $250, and casino Reload Bonuses as well. The Horse Racing Rebate is 7%.

  1. Bookmaker

Bookmaker is one of our top suggested sportsbooks if you want fast and reliable payouts. In the top menu, click on “Racebook” to see the action they are offering. You can bet on races at tracks like:

  • SWE Kalmar
  • Arlington Park
  • UK Wolverhampton
  • Gulfstream
  • Ellis Park
  • Woodbine Thoroughbred
  • Saratoga

The welcome offer at Bookmaker can range between 20%-25% Cash up to $500, depending on your deposit method. The site also currently is offering a special promo 100% Bonus up to $500. Reload bonuses can be anywhere from 10% to 20% Cash, depending on your rewards program tier. The Cash Rebate for horse racing is 8%.

  1. Cloudbet

For a crypto sportsbook that offers a great racebook, check out Cloudbet. To find horse racing on Cloudbet, hover over “Sports” in the top menu, and then “Horse Racing” in the dropdown.

You can bet on horse races at tracks such as:

  • Gulfstream
  • Saratoga
  • Monmouth Park
  • Carnarvon
  • Devonport
  • Moruya
  • Narromine

The only type of wager we see right now is win/show/place, but we might be missing something.

Cloudbet has one of the most massive bonuses in the world of sports betting online. You can claim a match for up to 5 BTC when you first open your account! There are also Casino Bonuses, tournaments, a loyalty club, and a cool marketplace feature where you can claim exciting prizes or customize bonuses using the points you have earned through the loyalty club!

  1. Everygame

Everygame is an online sportsbook that up until 2021 was known as Intertops. In the left sidebar of the sportsbook, you can navigate to the horse racing section of the site. You can bet on races at tracks such as:

  • Colonial Downs
  • Del Mar
  • Saratoga

Everygame only seems to display races that are taking place the day you check the racebook or the next day. So, the track listing is updated daily. At the time of this writing, outright bets and parlays are all we see available.

When you join Everygame, you can grab a $500 Sign-up Bonus when depositing through most payment methods. If you use Crypto, it jumps to $1,000.

Everygame also offers these cool promotions:

  • $500 Present for Our Odds Hunter
  • $1K Monthly Parlay Prince
  • 20 x $50 Parlay Free Bets

Because this sportsbook offers these parlay-related promotions, we recommend them as the top choice for making parlay wagers on horse racing.

The 2023 Kentucky Derby, the fanciest of the fancy!

Why You Should Join Multiple Sportsbooks Online to Bet on Horse Racing

While you can start out with an account at any one of the sites we recommended above, we suggest you think about signing up at several. Let’s explain why.

  1. Different Tracks And Events
  2. While there is a lot of overlap in the racetracks and events that each site offers, you will find that there are some racetracks that are available at some online sportsbooks and not others. So, if you want to give yourself access to the widest possible range of tracks, then you are going to need to join a few different sites.

  3. Different Types Of Bets
  4. Not every type of horse racing wager is available at every site. You will have no problem finding win/show/place bets just about anywhere, and you usually should be able to combine wagers into parlays. But different sportsbooks offer different selections of exotic bets. So, joining more than one can give you more ways to bet.

  5. Shop The Odds
  6. Another very important reason to join more than one sportsbook is so that you can quickly and easily shop the odds and bet where you find the most value. Over the long run, this can make a huge difference in terms of your profitability.

  7. Grab More Promotions
  8. If you read through all of our recommended sports betting sites above, you probably noticed that every single one of them offers exciting match bonuses, rebates, loyalty programs and other promotions.

    When you sign up for accounts on more than one sportsbook, you get to claim rewards at all of them. That means you can get multiple match deposit welcome bonuses instead of just one, which means more funds to use to bet on horse racing. Plus, you can take advantage of the unique promotions at every sportsbook you join.

The State of Horse Racing In America

You really don’t have to be a king to enjoy horse racing although we’re pretty sure it wouldn’t hurt either!

While horse racing thrives in many countries around the globe, in the USA, it is suffering.

The Economist reports, “The sport [in America] has been in decline for decades. Aside from big events like the Derby, attendance at racetracks is abysmal. Grandstands that can seat thousands hold dozens. Crowds at Belmont in New York are down by 88% since 1978, according to the End Horse Racing Subsidies Coalition, made up of animal-rights and environmental groups. More than 40 tracks have closed since 2000. In 1989 there were more than 74,000 races. Last year there were only 33,453.”

Perhaps horse racing was never going to be a fit for American culture. It is, after all, called the “Sport of Kings” and Americans are not really into kings.

American racetracks have also made some miscalculations; they have often made it difficult for people who do not attend the races in person to get the info they need to make wagers. This has not drawn people to the tracks; it has simply made it hard for them to get into the sport.

Broadcasters in the US also have not prioritized horse racing, likely because of how much time is spent not running around the track. This is unfortunate, as US sports fans tend to focus most on sports they have greater awareness of and those are the sports they see on TV and streaming services. This, too, has led to horse racing declining over the years.

Additionally, unfortunately, horse racing does have some serious problems—these have more to do with how it is conducted than anything inherent to the sport but a growing awareness of those issues has further caused horse racing in America to decline.

Plus, even though horse racing is much healthier abroad than it is in the US, to some extent, the decline is also global. Here is a post that talks about how horse racing is even less popular in the UK than it used to be, and how part of the problem is a decrease in prize funding. Horse racing abroad also has suffered from problems with its public image.

Why Bet On Horse Racing?

So, why would you suddenly decide to start betting on a sport that is declining in popularity each year, and has long been unpopular in the US? Because you are missing out on an exciting sport and a lot of opportunities to win.

  • So much going on:
  • There is always something happening in the world of horse racing. It is a truly global sport, so you should be able to find something going on somewhere throughout the year.

  • Tons of ways to bet:
  • So many different types of bets exist for horse racing! Some types of bets are even customizable. So you really can bet on horses however you want, which gives you an excellent degree of control over the risk you are willing to take on.

  • The thrill of betting:
  • Horse races are usually pretty fast. So, they are not a big time commitment to watch. As the horses speed around the track, the tension mounts as you wonder whether you are going to win. It truly is an exhilarating experience.

  • The chance to win big:
  • You can rake in life-changing wins if you happen to take a long shot and get lucky. Parlays on horse racing can yield winnings totalling hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. And that is with a very small bet! So, you can try for a big reward without taking a big risk.

  • The tradition of horse racing:
  • Horse racing is a longstanding tradition overseas, and it has also woven itself to some extent into the fabric of America as well. Even if you have never been to the Kentucky Derby, for example, you probably know what a mint julep is. Betting on horse racing lets you become a part of that tradition.

This horses name is King of Swing and he’s apparently built for some jockey comfort!

What is Stopping You from Betting on Horses? Problems and Solutions

What do you call a horse that lives next door?

Now that you know a few good reasons to think about betting on horse racing, let’s go over some common objections and provide you with some solutions and answers.

  • Problem: You cannot figure out where to bet on horse racing.
  • If you are looking for horse racing among the other sports in your online sportsbook, you will no doubt struggle to find it. You might even fail to realize that your betting site offers horse racing at all.

    Horse racing is often not lumped in with the rest of the sports in online sportsbooks, it is in its own separate section of the sites.

    If you do not look for it in the top menu, you will miss it altogether. Just click where it says “racebook” or “horses” or such, and you will be taken to the section of the site where all the horse racing action is located. You can then bet to your heart’s content.

    Do not be intimidated by the fact that horse racing is in its own area! It is just because it involves different types of wagers, and is very much its own thing. It is not “exclusive” or anything like that. All are welcome!

  • Problem: You are unfamiliar with horse racing.
  • As a bettor in the US, you may just not know anything about horse racing. You are surrounded by football, baseball and basketball. You probably know plenty about those sports, so you find it easier to bet on them.

    There are so many opportunities to learn about horse racing! Online, you can find a ton of articles and guides that will help you understand everything about this sport and how to wager on it.

    You can also start watching horse races by streaming them online, and look up footage of historical horse races as well. And don’t forget that you can go to your local track and take in some action firsthand to get even more insights and perspective that will help you place winning wagers on horse racing online.

  • Problem: Horse racing is weird. And, you know, not-very-American.
  • Yeah, we know, as an American you might think of horse racing as “that thing people do over there, across the pond.” You might feel a great deal of derision toward the idea of participating in something that to you, seems British, and prefer to stick with “good old American sports.”

    The Revolutionary War ended a long time ago, and guess what? We won our independence. That means you have the freedom to do what you want (including betting on horse racing) without having to live under the rule of some king or queen.

    So, stop holding yourself back. Embrace that freedom, and give yourself a chance to fall in love with betting on horse racing!

  • Problem: You do not understand the different types of horse racing bets.
  • What exactly is the difference between a trifecta and a superfecta? And what is a box? For that matter, what is a wheel?

    You may find yourself scratching your head when you look over the array of different types of bets you can place on horses. These are different types of bets than you are used to placing on other popular sports. The weird names and the sheer number of betting markets can seem overwhelming to a novice.

    You just need to do a little research to learn about the different types of bets. In fact, we have made it easy for you by putting together this beginner’s guide to horse racing.

    A good idea when you are starting out is to put together a cheat sheet. You can save this as a document on your computer, or you can print it out and have it on your wall when you are betting.

    You might forget what the different types of bets are when you are starting out, but after you have wagered on horses a few times, it will get progressively easier to remember. And once a few months go by, it will be second nature, just like understanding the types of bets you are used to with other sports.

    Don’t forget that you can head over to BetOnline and try out Horse Racing action with a $25 Risk Free Bet!
    Also, you may want to check out our “Pickleball 101” post and learn about the fastest growing sport in the US!
  • Problem: Horse racing is for rich people, isn’t it?
  • While some people shy away from horse racing because they feel like it is just for folks abroad, some avoid betting on it because they associate it with wealthy people. You might feel like there is something distinctly snobby about following and betting on horse racing. Or you might assume that it is outside of your budget.

    It is understandable where we get this perception. We have all seen photos of people dressed to the nines in expensive clothes and hats to attend the Kentucky Derby, Royal Ascot, and other big horse racing events. These people look like they are in the upper classes of society, and they act like they are.

    Horse racing is not just for rich people! Anyone can enjoy watching and betting on horse racing. In fact, it can actually be pretty affordable.

    Coming back to the Kentucky Derby, yes, there are certain ticket packages that can cost in excess of $1,000. We hear a lot about that, because the price is so steep. But not all tickets to the Kentucky Derby cost that much. Some tickets cost closer to $80. You will find similarly reasonable prices for other major horse racing events around the globe.

    And if you cannot afford to attend a horse race anyway, that is no big deal. You can just bet on the races online. You can stream them online or watch them on TV, and still have a fantastic time (you can even make your own mint julep).

    Another reason horse racing is actually an affordable sport to wager on is what we mentioned earlier, you have the opportunity to potentially win a life changing amount by betting a very small amount.

    You can find true stories of people who bet a few dollars (or the equivalent), and walked away with more than a million dollars after calling all their selections right in a horse racing parlay.

    So, not only is horse racing not exclusively for rich people, but we would argue it is actually an ideal fit for bettors with smaller bankrolls! So, don’t let $1,000 tickets or fancy hats put you off!

  • Problem: You do not know where to find information about horse racing.
  • Sports like football, basketball and baseball get a ton of coverage through the media in the US but horse racing does not receive nearly as much attention. This may make you wonder how you can get the information you need to plan horse racing bets.

    A great starting point is just to check online news portals and social media. This will give you a lot of information about current/recent events that you can use when you are deciding which horses to back.

    Online, you can also find databases that offer in-depth horse racing data and statistics. Some of them even contain footage of past horse races going back years. You may need to pay for access to these databases, but it can be worth it.

    You can also check with the track where an upcoming event is taking place to find out about the track conditions and anything else you should know (again, unfortunately, US tracks sometimes make this information a bit inaccessible to those not physically at the tracks).

  • Problem: Horse racing seems old-fashioned.
  • Time and again, we see people declare that horse racing is not “relevant” in our present times.

    Basically, the average person rarely comes into contact with a horse, and in some cases, maybe even never. This is quite a change from the days when horses were one of the primary means of transportation.

    When people were in daily contact with horses, naturally they took a deeper interest in them. Horse racing conceptually was something that the average person could relate to. But it feels far removed from the world of the average person now.

    Really, the way to deal with this issue is simply not to care about taking an interest in something “old-fashioned.” Horse racing is as relevant to you as you make it. Even though the average person does not interact with horses much, there are still many people who are passionately obsessed with them, and you can be one of them.

    This is probably another area where money unfortunately can be a factor. Those who interact with horses regularly are usually those who can afford to invest in riding lessons or who might even own a horse.

    But you do not have to have in-person interactions with horses to find them exciting. In fact, getting into horse racing is a way to vicariously experience the joy of horses even if you have no access to them yourself.

  • Problem: Racetracks in the US are in poor shape.
  • While there are hundreds of horse racing tracks throughout the US, a lot of them are not in the best condition. They have been neglected both by their owners and by audiences. As a result, many people just do not want to attend races at their local tracks.

    The awesome thing about online betting is that you can do it at home. There is no need to go to a local racetrack just to place some wagers on horses. You can bet on races that are local, across the country, or across the globe all from your laptop or mobile device. So, you do not need to be put off by the condition of your local track.

  • Problem: Isn’t horse racing cruel?
  • One more reason why some people avoid betting on horse racing both in the USA and abroad is concerns that horse racing might be harmful to the horses.

    Alas, this concern does have a foundation. Organizations like PETA have drawn attention to the abuses in the industry.

    DC Journal says, “PETA’s not going away. More important, as I told the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission at a public hearing more than a decade ago, racing doesn’t have an image problem — it has a reality problem. Three horses die on U.S. tracks every day. Racing has become synonymous with drugs, death and misery. Not because PETA’s investigations have revealed doping, slaughter and horses raced with fractures, but because it’s accurate.”

    Horse racing as it is exists today does have problems. That said, racing horses is not inherently problematic. It depends on how it is approached.

    This post in The Guardian by exercise rider Elizabeth Banicki says, “To truly act in the best interest of the horses would require a profound ideological reckoning on the macro business and industry level, as well as within the minds of horsewomen and men… Ideally this would look like a near complete restructuring from top to bottom that prioritizes the horses at every level of decision making.”

    Banicki continues, “If racing hopes to help itself in the greater picture of its future, now is the time it might tackle the question of how it will fare in a modern society, culture, and potentially a justice system that increasingly recognizes animals as entitled to certain fundamental rights. The least of those being survival of the for-profit business which created them.”

    Banicki explains that there have been some improvements lately in how horse racing as an industry has managed horse safety. That said, there is still resistance in the industry, which is one of the reasons why it is under fire and shrinking in the US and abroad.

    Horse racing is never going to be 100% safe, but a lot can be done to make it much less hazardous for horses.

    There is another side to the story too. The British Horseracing Authority says, “Without horseracing there would be no thoroughbred racehorse. The care and the support structures that the 14,000 horses in training at any one time receive are superior to those available to almost all other domesticated animals. As a result, racing brings far more life to the horse population than it takes away. And the quality of those lives is astonishingly high.”

    As best we can tell, there are opposing forces at work within the industry. Some people in the industry are working hard to improve the lives of racing horses. Others are intent on maintaining the status quo.

    If you are looking for a way to watch and bet on horse racing while still supporting the welfare of horses, what you can do is support organizations that are trying to create positive change in the industry. Raise your voice and let it be known that you will not tolerate mistreatment of these beautiful animals. With the industry under increasing pressure from critics and fans of horse racing worldwide, there is a good chance that you can make a difference.

Bet on Horse Racing at Top US Sportsbooks

While there are a number of factors that explain why horse racing is not as popular in the US as other sports, you now see that there are solutions and rebuttals to all of these objections.

Horse racing can seem intimidating when you are new to it, but if you give it a chance, before long, you will probably be hooked. Soon, you will know find it easy to explain the difference between an exacta and a trifecta, and you’ll have a research routine down for analyzing upcoming events and placing your wagers. To get started betting on horse racing now, click on any of the links in this post!

And Make Sure That You Read These Before You Take Off

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