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Online Gambling Sites » Betting Strategies » Best Horse Racing Betting Strategies & Methods Guide

Best Horse Racing Betting Strategies & Methods Guide

Publish Date: 20/08/2021
Fact checked by: Melissa Roy

Best Betting Strategies for Horse Racing Canada 2024

So what’s the simplest horse racing betting strategy? For new bettors, horse racing might seem complex and confusing.

Most bettors, in fact, end up placing their bets randomly or based on factors that have nothing to do with the race (their favorite name in the race, for example).

For knowledgeable players with a horse racing betting strategy, however, betting can be a fun and profitable game. If you want to learn more, it’s important to know the very basics of horse racing betting. Here, we’ll discuss everything you need for a successful betting strategy.

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Straight Wagers

The most basic bets, often called “straight wagers,” are “win,” “place,” and “show” bets. As the name implies, “win” bets only pay out if your chosen horse finishes in first place. “Place” bets typically have a lower payout, but you can cash in if your horse finished first or second. Bets to “show” have the lowest payout of the three, but you win whether your horse finishes in first, second, or third place. While these are easy and intuitive bets for new players, the best horseracing strategy often involves more complex wagers. To win consistently with straight wagers in your horseracing betting strategy, bettors will need high-quality horse racing selection methods or a strong horse racing handicapping formula.

Exotic Wagers

Once you’ve gotten your feet wet with straight wagers, most bettors looking for more exciting action will move into the so-called ‘exotic wagers’ in your horseracing betting strategy. These types of bets involve more than one horse, carry longer payoff odds, and may cost more than similar straight wagers — but the payouts are the best in the game. The most common types of exotic wagers ask bettors to predict the finish order of a single race. The payout varies depending on the number of horses in the bet and whether or not the finish order is specified.

Bets with a specified order will pay out more, but bets that allow the selected horses to finish in any order (referred to as “boxed” bets) carry higher chances of paying off. A strong horse racing handicapping formula will generally involve a combination of both types of exotic wagers — knowing which type to bet and when to bet it will lead to the best horseracing betting strategy possible.


The exacta is one of the most straightforward exotic wagers available. Betters simply choose which horses they believe will finish first and second and specify the order of their finish. The exacta is one of the smartest exotic bets around because bettors can view the projected payouts before making their bet. To win exactas, it’s necessary to have a horse racing handicapping formula to help you determine whether or not a payout is worth the risk of betting that combination. A widely-used horseracing betting strategy to project a “fair” payout looks like this:

$bet x (win odds) x (place odds + 1)

The horse racing handicapping formula above gives you a quick and easy way to determine whether or not a specific exacta is worth a bet in your horseracing betting strategy. To calculate it, make sure you use the win and place odds-to-1; the end number will give you a quick and easy measuring tool to determine fair payouts. Some common horseracing betting strategy types involve picking horses with opposite running styles in exactas. An early running horse may start fast, but get passed by a presser or sustainer horse down the stretch and end up placing while the other horse wins. The best horseracing betting strategy here is often to find the best early running horse and the best late running horse, then bet those two in an exacta.


Quinellas are similar to exactas in that they involve two horses, but these wagers allow the bettor not to specify the finish order. Unlike “boxed” exactas, which also involve two horses finishing in any order, quinellas can be bet without multiplying the bet cost like boxed exactas are. However, quinellas are not as popular as exactas because they pay less — some racetracks and bookies don’t offer quinellas because of their lack of popularity as a horseracing betting strategy.

Quinellas are appealing for newer bettors looking for a “safer” betting option than other exotic wagers. However, the lower winnings mean the best horseracing betting strategy here is to only play quinellas as judiciously as possible. Make sure not to shell out too much money for lousy payouts under the pretense of “safe” bets.


The trifecta is similar to an exacta, with the addition of a spot for the show horse. Put simply, bettors must correctly forecast the top three horses and the order in which they finish to win. These carry longer odds and higher payouts than both exactas and quinellas. Trifectas make sense for bettors who have already enjoyed sustained success betting exactas.

Once again, it’s a good idea to use the classic “opposite style” horseracing betting strategy — if you’re looking for a show horse, consider the running styles of the horses you’ve penciled in above him. If you’re leaning towards early starters, try to find and select the best late finisher in the pack. There’s a strong chance he’ll pass up tired early speedsters down the stretch. On the other hand, an early starter can blow by a field filled with late pressers; even if the fast horse fades towards the end, they should be a strong bet to finish in the money.

Superfectas and Hi-5s

Superfectas, which involve successfully picking the top four horses in order, and Hi-5s require the top five. They’re some of the riskiest exotic bets around — but the payoffs are also the highest, making them an alluring option for many casual race bettors. The best horseracing betting strategy with these is to avoid them unless you are incredibly confident about a particular race.

Using the “opposite style” strategy and analyzing the field can help you narrow things down, but even the strongest horse racing selection methods will not guarantee consistent superfecta wins.As long as you don’t spend too much of your budget on these bets and keep the individual risk low, they can be entertaining, fun parts of your horse racing handicapping formula.

Daily Doubles

Daily doubles, available at many tracks, are a common type of exotic bet that focuses on two races rather than just one. While some tracks may offer rolling daily doubles, which allow you to bet on any two consecutive races, most locations will offer daily double bets on the first and last two races of the day.

These bets are lucrative to include in your horseracing betting strategy, but require more research on the part of the bettor and generally have longer odds than single-race exotic wagers. A popular option is “wheeling” a daily double, or picking one horse to win one race then selecting every other possible combination in the second race. While this can pay off if a longshot horse wins, it makes the bet more expensive.

If a favorite wins the race you “wheeled,” you may not recoup the additional investment. The best horseracing betting strategy here is to only bet daily doubles if you’re very confident on at least one of the races, and also have a strong idea of the other winner in the double.

Horse Racing Betting Strategies that Work

Many bettors new to horse racing choose to “key” certain horses in their bets to minimize their risk — by selecting one key horse to win and then selecting the rest of the field to place or show, bettors end up with a much higher chance of cashing their bet. However, that added security in a horseracing betting strategy comes at the cost of greater profits. Because the price of exotic wagers increases with the number of horses selected, it’s often a better idea to simply bet a horse to win rather than key him in an expensive exacta.

If a heavily favored horse places, the profits likely won’t cover the money you spent to select all the horses in the field. Keying horses makes sense when your key horse is neither the favorite nor an extremely long-odds horse. If you’re extremely confident that that horse will finish in the money, and don’t select too many other horses to round out the bet, keying ca be an effective tool to add security to your bets without sacrificing many profits.

Evaluating Trainers

Any of the real horse racing strategy that work will take a horse’s trainer into account. It’s crucial to look at a given trainer’s history and pedigree to determine whether or not their horse will finish in the money. This horseracing betting strategy is especially important for maiden or young races, where horses are still inexperienced and the pedigree and style of their trainer can have a massive effect on the horse’s performance. Are they generally more successful on turf or dirt? Do their horses start fast or build toward the end of each race? Have they historically had success immediately, or do their horses take a few races to become profitable bets? These are all questions any horse bettor ought to ask themselves when taking a look at any race card.

The track material is nearly as important to consider as the trainer when using a horseracing betting strategy. Tracks may be constructed from dirt, turf, or synthetic materials (often referred to as “all-weather” tracks). Historically, horses used to racing on synthetic tracks have been thought to adapt more quickly to turf surfaces than dirt. For the best horseracing betting strategy, pay special attention to horses switching track material from their last race. Favorites running on a different surface from their past outings may be overvalued. On the other hand, handicappers may undervalue horses moving to dirt tracks from synthetic surfaces, even though many animals switch back and forth without problems. Looking for horses like these running at overinflated odds is a key part of a strong horse racing strategy.

Speed Figures

While trainers and track surface are helpful for evaluating horses before a race, speed is possibly the most valuable piece of information for any horse racing selection methods. Especially in lower-level races, like maiden and claiming races, certain horses in the field will simply be outmatched and stand little chance of winning — while speed isn’t the only factor leading a horse to victory, it’s important to determine whether or not a given animal even has a chance to finish first. Sources like Equibase and TimeForm US offer good speed measures to help you get a quick grasp.

While speed is important to eliminate horses that stand no chance, it’s also a great tool to pick winners. A strong horseracing betting strategy involves finding races with one horse with a much higher pure speed than most of the field — this applies even more in lower races and when that horse is an early runner. At many levels of competition, horses may fade down the stretch and the horse with the speed to jump out to an early lead will often win going away.

Beyond speed, training, and surface conditions, past horse performance is a great horse racing selection method to determine winning plays. In maiden and early races, horses may not have a long track record, making evaluating past performance more difficult. But whenever possible, analyzing prior results can reveal clues about a horse’s abilities and disposition. Make sure to check the horse’s history at the particular competition level and race length they’re currently racing at — many horses moving up a level can initially struggle to deal with the better competition.

On the other hand, horses moving down may simply outclass the more inexperienced horses. Finally, sometimes a horse’s past performance can reveal other, more unique trends. Does the horse have a consistent history of finishing in the money, but never winning? Does it perform much better on tracks with turf than dirt surfaces? Has it dominated shorter sprints but struggled in longer races? Past performance results will help you find out.

Follow the jockeys

When looking for the best horseracing betting strategy, it’s a good idea to follow the experts. After all, who else knows better than the jockeys who actually ride the horses? Identifying jockeys with track records of success can be a great tool when deciding which horses to wager on. Top jockeys will only ride horses they feel have a chance of winning — if you see a jockey switch horses before a big race, it’s a strong indicator they like that horse’s chances to finish in the money.

Similarly, losing a jockey soon before a race can affect a horse’s odds come race day. Without the comfort and familiarity between horse and rider, it’s harder for that horse to perform at its best. Knowing which jockeys perform best with which types of horses is also an essential piece of knowledge for any serious bettor.

Where to Bet on Horses

Many horse racing bettors simply go to their local track to place bets on the day’s races. If you’re a more seasoned pro looking for the best bookies for horseracing betting strategy, there are plenty of online options offering strong odds. When betting online, look for a reputable site with secure backing and a good track record to test out your horseracing betting strategy.

Many sites will also offer incentives for new bettors. The best bookies for horseracing betting strategy will also post odds early, giving you more time to evaluate the animals running and make the best picks possible. Look for odds posted a day or more in advance so that you can make the most informed decision possible when using a good horseracing betting strategy.

Horse racing may seem complex to beginners, but it can also be one of the most entertaining and rewarding sports to wager on. After all, there’s nothing like the thrill of your horse coming down the home stretch in the lead! Many beginners only bet on horses for fun during a long day at the racetrack — but with the correct information and the discipline to make smart bets on each race, it’s possible to make good money betting on horses. If you’re looking to take the plunge for yourself, it’s essential to go with one of the best bookies for horseracing betting strategy. will help you find a reputable and easy-to-understand bookmaker to help you get started in the world of horse racing betting. You can also find useful tips regarding a good horseracing betting strategy, along with matched strategies, tennis strategies, value bets strategies and many more.

Visit these top online bookmakers for horse racing in Canada

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