1. Picking Your Horse
Interpreting the Data
There are many resources available to help you pick a winner. The Daily Racing Form, available on track and online, provides information on each horse’s ten most recent races. The past performances, as they are called, can show you how each horse likes to pace themselves throughout a race, whether or not like they mud, how they are training, and much more. (DRF Past Performances Interactive Tutorial). Similar information is available in the track program, assembled by the Equibase Company (How to read Past Performance Info).
Know the Stars
Trainers and jockeys have a huge influence on a horse’s performance. Picking a winner can sometimes be as easy as choosing the horse with the most successful human connections. In New York, we have many legendary active jockeys and horsemen competing regularly at our tracks. Throughout the year you can watch Hall of Fame trainers Shug McGaughey, Nick Zito, and Bill Mott give a leg up to enshrined riders like John Velazquez and Edgar Prado. Check out our current Jockey and Trainer pages for current information.
See What the Experts Think
Public handicappers, like those who work for individual racetracks and publications like The Daily Racing Form, make a living for their ability to decipher the past performances and pick winners. Their selections are available in the Post Parade program and online. Each race day, our in-house experts break down the races on our Talking Horses program. This is available on NYRA TV and online. Their selections can be found throughout the race card on our website here.
In addition to all of these helpful links, racing fans love sharing their knowledge with newcomers to the sport, so don’t hesitate to ask a racetrack veteran for their help!
2. How to Pick Your Bet Type
The Different Bet Types
Win – Your horse must win.
Place – Your horse must finish first or second.
Show – Your horse must finish first, second, or third.
Across the Board – Separate win, place, and show wagers of equal amounts on the same horse.
The minimum wager for these bets is $1. Since an “across the board” wager is technically three separate bets, the smallest bet of this type would cost $3.
Exacta – Pick the first two horses in the correct order.
Quinella – Pick the first two horses in either order.
Trifecta – Pick the first three horses in the correct order.
Daily Double – Pick the winners of two consecutive races.
The minimum wager for these is $1.
Superfecta – Pick the first four horses in the correct order.
Grand Slam – Pick a horse to finish in the top three in three straight races, capped by the winner of the fourth race in the sequence. If there is no show wagering in one of the first three legs, the horse must finish second.
Pick 3 – Pick the winners of three consecutive races.
Pick 4 – Pick the winners of four consecutive races.
Pick 5 – Pick the winners of five consecutive races.
Pick 6 – Pick the winners of six consecutive races.
The minimum wager for the grand slam and Pick 3 is $1. Smaller investments can be made on superfectas, where 10¢ is the minimum, and Pick Fours and Pick Fives, which can be bet for 50¢. The minimum wager for a Pick 6 is $2.
“Boxing” your choices in exacta, trifecta, and superfecta bets makes your wager more expensive but allows you to win if your selected horses finish in any order! In addition, adding additional horses to your wagers raises the price of your ticket, but gives you more chances to win.
3. How to Place your Bet
No matter what kind of bet you’re making, the format for wagering is the same at a betting window. Provide your teller with the following information, in order:
Example 1 – Win Bet
Saratoga, race one, two dollars to win on the five.
Example 2 – Exacta Bet
Saratoga, race one, one dollar exacta box on the two and five.
Example 3 – Daily Double Bet
Saratoga, race one, two dollar double on the two and five with the one and four.
(NOTE – Change the track name for each track!)
For your convenience, you can also wager at self-service terminals throughout the racetrack. To wager by phone, online, or on your mobile device, you can sign up for a NYRA Rewards account at customer service booths throughout the facility.
You Won! Now What?
Bring your ticket back to the window to cash it in! The winning payout is based on how much was bet on each horse. Betting on horse racing is done through pari-mutuel wagering. The odds fluctuate solely on how wagers are placed. The “morning line” odds, those displayed in the day’s program, are the expert analysis of what the odds are likely to be at post time. While the track extracts a percentage of all wagers made, the racetrack has absolutely no interest in the outcome of a race. The “takeout” funds the state, organization, and racing itself. Unlike other forms of wagering where “the house always wins,” we’re thrilled when you win!
Please note that NYRA can only pay off on winning wagers in accordance with the revelant complete wager rules of the New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) codified at 9(e) NYCRR.