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Horse Racing Odds Today

You can’t be a good horse racing bettor — or even a mediocre one — without knowing about today's US horse racing odds and how they work.

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Horse Racing Payouts

The pari-mutuel horse racing betting menu includes more than win bets. Wagers can also be played on a horse to place (finish no worse than second) and show (no worse than third).

Most of the wagering (more than 70%) in horse racing is exotic betting, which involves two horses or more in a particular race or a series of consecutive races. Here are some of the most popular exotic wagers:

Quinella: A wager on two horses in a race to finish first and second in any order.

Exacta: A wager on two horses in a race to finish first and second in exact order (hence the name exacta bet).

Trifecta: A wager on three horses in a race to finish first, second and third in exact order.

Superfecta: A wager on four horses in a race to finish first, second, third and fourth in exact order.

Daily Double: A wager combining the winning horses of two consecutive races.

Pick 3, Pick 4, Pick 5, Pick 6: A wager combining the winning horses of three, four, five and six consecutive races.

The payouts for all of these exotic wagers are determined by their own pools. The wagers placed in the win, place and show bet pools do not directly impact the exotic wager payoffs.

Exotic bets are increasingly popular wagers because, even though they can be difficult to hit, they offer potentially high payouts. Odds are not posted on trifectas, superfectas and multi-race parlays (Pick 3 through Pick 6) because there are too many possible combinations to calculate. The more higher-priced horses that win, the bigger the payoff.

As for win odds, this chart provides the payoffs for a $2 win bet. Your payoff may be slightly more or less since all are rounded off:

OddsPayoff OddsPayoff
1-5 $2.40 7-2 $9.00
1-2 $3.00 4-1 $10.00
3-5 $3.20 9-2 $11.00
4-5 $3.60 5-1 $12.00
1-1 $4.00 7-1 $16.00
6-5 $4.40 9-1 $20.00
3-2 $5.00 10-1 $22.00
8-5 $5.20 15-1 $32.00
2-1 $6.00 25-1 $52.00
5-2 $7.00 50-1 $102.00
3-1 $8.00 100-1 $202.00

How Do Horse Racing Odds Work?

Horse racing betting odds not only provide a picture of how bettors view a particular horse race but can be the basis for effective betting strategies as well.

For example, if a horse you believe is the most likely to win the Kentucky Derby is sent off an overlay at 6-1 odds, that’s excellent betting value. Conversely, a horse that you think may barely have an edge over the field but is sent off at 1-1 (even money) offers little to no betting value. The odds provide players with potential payout info and helps them make more informed decisions.

For novices of horse racing betting looking at the tote (odds) board for the first time, win odds such as 2-1, 7-2 or 6-5 may look intimidating at first, but the math is quite simple and can be learned in minutes.

Typically, horse racing in the U.S. uses pari-mutuel wagering and not fixed odds, which means bettors are competing against each other, not against the house. From a betting standpoint, the race track simply acts as broker for your transaction. Odds and payouts are determined by the amount wagered on each horse, minus the track’s percentage takeout (more on takeout later).

All of the dollars wagered on a particular race are placed in specific pools. Money bet on a horse to win goes into the win pool. The more money placed on a horse to win the race, the lower the odds on that horse. The less money wagered on the horse, the higher the odds.

If a horse goes off at 2-1 odds, that means the bettor can expect $2 of profit for every $1 invested. So, a $2 bet on a winning horse at 2-1 odds would return the bettor $6 – $4 of profit along with the original $2 wager.

Other examples: A winning $2 bet on a horse that goes off at 7-2 odds (3.5 to 1) would return $9 – $7 of profit plus original $2 wager. A winning $5 bet on a horse sent off at 6-5 would return $11 – $6 of profit plus original $5 wager.

Bettors can also place exotic wagers on more than one horse and more than one race. Each exotic bet has its own pool, which determine the payoffs.

RELATED: How Class & Speed Figures Work In Horse Racing Handicapping

Does Bookies Provide the Best Online Places to Wager?

Bookies.com provides recommendations on the best legal online horse racing betting sites. All of our recommended sites are licensed and regulated in the U.S. Not all states allow pari-mutuel wagering on online platforms such as TVG or TwinSpires, but more than half do, with additional states continuing to loosen restrictions.

Bookies.com does not recommend wagering with offshore-based pari-mutuel sites, which are unregulated and should be avoided as they pose unnecessary risks.

While pari-mutuel wagering is the law of the land at all U.S. horse tracks, New Jersey is the only state that also allows fixed betting odds on horse racing, and on July 9, 2020 PointsBet announced it would offer fixed odds to its bettors in the state. Customers can also lock in exact win odds on their horse in races at Monmouth Park in Oceanport.

Fixed-odds wagering is popular in other countries, especially Australia, where it has been credited with a surge in the popularity of horse racing betting. While it hasn’t caught on in the U.S., it may gain acceptance in time, considering sports betting is conducted with the same fixed-odds system.

Calculating Horse Racing Odds

The tote board lists the win odds for every horse in the race, so simply look for the number of your horse to find the win odds. Online, just look for your horse’s name.

If you want to do the math, in pari-mutuel betting odds are determined by the total amount wagered in the win pool, the amount wagered to win on your horse and the track’s takeout percentage. The odds determine your payout, which is usually rounded down to the nearest dime (known as breakage). The more money wagered on your horse to win, the lower the odds and payout.

By examining the betting odds of each horse in a race, you can judge which horses, in your opinion, are being sent off at a fair price, which provide value and which may be overbet. Horses sent off at significantly higher odds than you believe reasonable are often worth betting on. If your opinion is right, you will be rewarded.

That doesn’t mean a favored horse going off at low odds should be ignored or doesn’t offer value. If a horse is sent off at 8-5 odds (1.6 to 1), but you believe a fair price on that horse is even money (1-1) or less, that’s potential value, too.

A word on takeout, which has become a hot topic for bettors. The amount tracks deduct from each wager is the takeout, which is used to pay track expenses, taxes and horsemen. Takeout rates vary from track to track with percentages generally varying between 15 and 30%. The bottom line is, the higher the takeout, the lower the return to bettors. So. if possible, look for tracks which offer lower takeouts. Win, place and show bets generally offer lower takeout rates than exotic wagers.

Used To American Odds? Our Odds Calculator Can Convert The Fractional Odds For You

Benefits of Having the Latest Horse Racing Odds

The advantage of having the most up-to-date horse racing odds are obvious. In pari-mutuel racing, payoffs are determined by the horse’s final odds, not the odds when the wager is placed. Odds can change significantly in minutes, sometimes undermining the reasons why a specific wager was placed.

That’s why it’s important to have the latest odds available to you at all times. The best way to do that is to wager with the best online platforms. Bookies.com lists the top sites that offer up-to-date real-time odds on your computer or mobile device.