Horse Racing Betting Guide

Horse racing is one of the oldest and most traditional sports but is still hugely popular throughout Canada. There are a number of popular Canadian racetracks with many major trainers and jockeys journeying between the venues each week.


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Most tracks will stage at least a couple of meetings each week providing plenty of opportunities for wagering. There are four major racetracks in Canada with many bettors also following action from the US as some horses spend their winter over there when Canadian racing is thin on the ground due to climate. To simplify horse racing, bettors are simply predicting which horse will cross the line first, but there are number of other ways of wagering such as ‘To Place’. Ante-Post Betting is extremely popular as well on major annual events such as the Pegasus World Cup & the Kentucky Derby which takes place in the US. You’ll often find these events priced up throughout the entire year.


horse racing betBetting Markets & Odds

The most common way of betting on horse racing in Canada is ‘Win Only’, this is extremely popular and is a simplistic way to follow the action. You are predicting which horse will finish in first place. Occasionally two horse pass the post at the same time and it can be declared a ‘Dead Heat’, sportsbooks will often pay out for both of these although this is a fairly rare occurrence.

Occasionally horses can be disqualified for a variety of reasons so it’s always worth checking the ‘Official Results’ before proceeding as 1st and 2nd can often be reversed as a result.

Check out Sports Interaction betting odds

‘Place Only’ is another market available on all races in Canada. You’re backing a horse to finish 1st or 2nd in the race. This is handy in competitive events where a number of horses are in with a chance of crossing the line ahead of the field. The odds on this will be significantly lower than ‘Win Only’, with returns smaller as a result, but it reduces losses overall. It’s considered safer.

‘Show Bet’ – Finally, this bet allows your chosen horse to finish in 1st, 2nd or 3rd in the selected contest. The chances are higher but the returns are much smaller. It is significantly safer and known as ‘Hedging your bets’. This is occasionally unavailable if there are only a small number of horses running in a race (Usually 4 or 5)

It’s always better to opt for a ‘Show Bet’ when wagering on big events such as the Kentucky Derby because the field will have many quality horses competing and each trainer will be confident of their chances.

The Odds are quite simple when it comes to Horse Racing wagers.  Decimal Odds are widely used throughout the sport for example 2/1 or 5/4.

If you placed a $10 wager at odds of 2/1 and your chosen horse finished in first place, you’d receive $20 + $10 stake. = $30

The market is often formed on the morning of each race although for bigger events ‘Ante-Post’ markets can often be found on all online sportsbooks. The Pegasus World Cup is one such example.

Within a few minutes of the start of the race, the market will go ‘Live’ and often attracts a flurry of activity both at the track and online. This can often cause the odds to fluctuate depending on the level of interest. For example a horse racing at Woodbine may start the day at 16/1, but if a number of bettors place large wagers throughout the day, it could start the race as short as 6/1.

Maiden Races’ contain horses who have yet to win a race of any kind. When a horse is successful in this company, it can progress to ‘allowance’ or ‘claiming races’. Maiden events often provide a lively betting market as little is known about each horse with owners and trainers often bullish about their own horses’ chances in the race.


There are so many angles when it comes to Horse Racing wagering ask 10 different people for an opinion on a major race and you may get 6 or 7 different answers.

Jockeys are a key part to the success and the more experienced the better. Some jockeys always race at the same track and know every minutiae of the venue. Other prefer to alternate destinations.

Always look out for Trainer/Jockey partnerships. For example at Belmont, a trainer has a 33% strike rate (He’s won a 3rd of the races he’s sent horses to) and the jockey has a 20% strike rate at this track (He’s won a 5th of the races he’s ridden In here), they could be potent if they team up.

Some jockeys travel for many miles to tracks because they believe the horse has an outstanding chance of success and they think they’ll pick up the prize money. If the jockey lives in the US but has travelled to Woodbine for one ride this can often be a good indication he fancies the chances of this runner.

Certain horse react to certain triggers. For example some horses prefer certain tracks. They may have a 16% win percentage at Fort Erie, but has never been successful at Belmont.

Other horses perform well at certain distances – One horse may have won 18 times at 6 furlongs but failed badly when tried at a mile.

These are all factors to check before placing bets on races.

How to place a Wager on a horse

All online sportsbooks will have a dedicated Horse Racing page and the races should be priced up on the day of the event. It’s often known as a racebook.

As mentioned above, Win Bets, Place Bets and Show Bets are extremely popular.

There are a number of other ways of wagering on this sport:

Exacta – This is when you are predicting which horses will finish 1st and 2nd in the race. This is tough to call and the rewards can be huge. This is often the bet when there are 1 or 2 standout horses in a race. The chosen horses HAVE to finish 1st and 2nd in that order to win the bet.

Quinella – This is slightly easier. Once again you are betting on two horses to finish 1st and 2nd but they can finish in any order. The odds aren’t as generous as an exacta but still pay more than a ‘Win Bet’.

Horse Racing Events:

There are a number of top class horse races throughout the calendar year which are watched by millions of viewers and can prove very profitable for bettors.

Some of the major Canadian races include the North America Cup which takes place at Mohawk in June. The prize is $1,500,000 to the winner. There’s also the Canadian International Stakes at Woodbine which attracts a high class field as well as the Woodbine Mile.

Bets can be placed on the majority of these events throughout the year as the contenders impress or fail to impress in their various warm up races ahead of the event.

The Canadian Triple Crown also attracts plenty of interest and takes place across July and August. Horses will compete in all three of the events in an attempt to earn the Triple Crown. They are run on three different surfaces and are: The Queens Plate at Woodbine, Prince of Wales Stakes at Fort Erie and the Breeders Stakes also at Woodbine. The prizes on offer for both trainers and owners are huge.

This always follows on from the US Triple Crown which attracts more media coverage and is watched by viewers in Canada and all around the world.

These are: The Preakness Stakes, The Belmont Stakes and the Kentucky Derby.

Betting Strategy

Like all sports betting, it takes patience, study and a keen eye for detail to be successful when wagering on horse racing.

It’s always a good idea to check the previous form of the horse. Sometimes trainers can apply blinkers in a bid to improve its concentration and this can prove profitable. Any race-card will state if a horse is wearing blinkers for the first time.

Certain trainers target particular races each year. If one trainer has won at race at Woodbine for the last three years and enters a horse again this year, the likelihood is that he/she has waited for this race to come around before declaring this runner.

Other trainers have a good record with horses making their firstF start at a racetrack whilst others prefer the turf or even a synthetic surface. All these should be checked pre-race with the majority of the information available online for free.

If a horse has been competing in decent events and suddenly drops down to weaker company this can often be a good indication whilst a trainer sending a horse to a track they don’t often frequent is another pointer.

If a horse finished strongly but can only claim 3rd or 4th position in a race, it’s often worth making a note and looking out for its future appearances.

There are a number of ways of assessing races and everybody will have their own strategy. Get to know your way around a racecourse and watch races carefully and you’ll soon develop an understanding of how each race is won and lost.

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