Last updated on: June 11th, 2024

Horse Racing Betting In The US

Legal horse race betting sites that take US players make betting on the ponies possible from anywhere. Most states offer regulated options but legal sports betting sites let you place horse racing bets like you’re at the track. A lot goes into the industry of horse racing betting in the US. Get right on track by knowing more about one of America’s oldest forms of legal betting. The betting age for horse races is 18, as regulations are different than that of legal sports betting. Use this page to learn everything there is to know regarding how to bet horse racing legally in the US.

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Where Can I Legally Bet On Horses?

There are many different legal avenues for betting on horses across the US. Physical racetracks are in 36 states. But, in places like Alabama, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, they offer legal horse betting without local tracks. This is why legal racebooks are available in every state. A lot of these trusted sites run through as an online sportsbook operator.


Bovada Sportsbook

Legal Horse Betting Online

Bovada is one of the best ways to bet on horses online, as they’re available in 45 US states. The legal sportsbook also has an entire racebook used for placing horse bets. Bovada’s Kentucky Derby odds are some of the highest paying, like any of the 2024 Triple Crown events. Don’t forget to check out the horse betting rebates, promotions, and deposit bonuses. Using any deposit method for horse racing wagering at Bovada comes with many benefits. This grand selection of horse racing odds are legal anywhere except in NV, NJ, NY, DW, and MD.

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BetOnline Sportsbook

Bitcoin Horse Betting

BetOnline Sportsbook refers to its name simply – bet online. Stuck in their sportsbook? Look to expand into the BetOnline racebook to find odds on US horse races. They even have international events to bet on too. All legal US horse betting fans enjoy the option to bet pari-mutuel or fixed odds. BetOnline accepts over a dozen cryptos too, making betting on horse races online easy. This type of payment method makes it easy to bet on last-second dark horses for any major or minor race.

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MyBookie Sportsbook

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Finding a horse betting bonus at MyBookie is a wonderful addition to their racebook. The best offer is through their 8% horse rebate promotion. This bonus is for all players and best of all, it comes with no rollovers. When betting with the rebate, MyBookie makes it much easier to turn a profit betting horses. Regardless, MyBookie offers much more than only bonuses. Their horse betting prop bet selections will make you laugh and consider a small risk.

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Are The Races Available At My Local Track Available Online?

Local and regional action at a retail OTB or simulcast-ready racetrack will have options. But, in most cases, the answer is still yes. Online sports betting sites offer horse betting lines for pretty much any US race. Betting on horse events like the Kentucky Oaks is popular and online sportsbooks have odds for many sports. The best part is that players can find local horse races at multiple sites, and find the best bet by comparing odds. Even if you’re in one of the states with legal horse betting, using an online racebook is smart.

Kentucky Derby Odds

The Kentucky Derby is the first of the three major Triple Crown races that take place annually. The race is at the legendary Churchill Downs race track where all-time great horses have made names for themselves. If visiting the venue in person, you can still use legal Kentucky betting sites to get in on the action. ​Racebooks host odds for the overall winner of the event, head-to-head matchups for horses, and exotics bets are available as well. Live horse race betting is also an option during the Kentucky Derby. Betting on the Kentucky Derby early is the best way to play, as odds are long for all major horses.

Preakness Stakes Odds

The Preakness Stakes is the second major Triple Crown event and gives hope that a Triple Crown winner is possible. Horse betting sites that are legal have Preakness Stakes odds available right after the Kentucky Derby. Held at the Pimlico Race Course with a purse of $1 million, the event allows for betting exactas, superfectas, trifectas, and more. There are even options for head-to-head matchups between individual horses. Betting on the Preakness Stakes comes with options for maximum winning potential. In 2024, Seize the Grey (+1400) won the Preakness and took away Mystik Dan’s chance of winning the Triple Crown.

Belmont Stakes Odds

The third of the Triple Crown events is the Belmont Stakes. The Belmont Stakes takes place at the legendary Belmont Park. Longshot bettors can find action on this event at this event early on, even directly following the Kentucky Derby. A big thing with Belmont Stakes betting is seeing if a single horse won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes. If this racehorse could also take the Belmont Stakes, then bettors can wager on if there will be a single Triple Crown winner and take all three races. The Belmont Stakes betting sites also have a plethora of exotic wagers and straight bets for fans of legal horse betting.

Horse Racing Wager Types

In order to enjoy the full gamut of legal Triple Crown betting in the US, you need to make sure you understand the basic wager types. There are a few specific terms you’ll need to know, but for the most part, your betting options are going to be relatively straightforward. Even better, these terms are all totally institutionalized. Nearly all racetracks, OTBs, and offshore betting sites use identical terms. The only difference you’re likely to come across between various betting outlets is how they advertise their odds. Most in-person venues will use fractional odds, while most racebooks on the Internet will use moneyline odds. (A select few European outlets still use decimal odds, but you will rarely come across these as a US bettor.)

Thanks to the Interstate Horseracing Act, the market for betting on horses legally has been expanding. There are two main types of horse racing wagers: straight bets and exotic bets. These cover everything but futures bets and specials. Overseas books are the only sites to offer futures and specials and only do so for the biggest races on the calendar.

Horse Betting Straight Wagers

You will find four kinds of straight wagers when researching how to bet on horses. You can place Win, Place, Show (aka W/P/S or WPS) and “across the board” (ATB) bets.

  1. Win – A “Win” bet means that you simply pick a horse to win the race. If the horse wins, you win, and if the horse loses, you lose. Simple.
  2. Place – “Place” bets require you to pick a horse, and if that horse finishes in 1st or 2nd, you win.
  3. Show – A “Show” bet means that you pick a horse, and if that horse finishes in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, you win.
  4. Across the board – ATB bets are similar to the above, but you’re betting on all three WPS results for a specific horse. For example, let’s say you pick a horse “across the board”. If that pony wins outright, you receive all of the Win, Place, and Show amounts. If the horse finishes in 2nd, you get the Place and Show amounts. If the horse finishes in third, you get the Show amount. The more chances a given wager gives you to win, the more expensive that ticket is. Where this really comes into play is with exotic bets.

Horse Racing Exotic Wagers

Exotics are akin to parlay bets in sports wagering. Essentially, you are wagering on multiple horses and multiple outcomes, all on the same ticket. If you want to make big money with your horse racing bets, exotic wagers are what you need to stick to. There are two main categories of exotics, commonly called “horizontal” and “vertical.” Horizontal exotics are wagers that pertain to one single race. Vertical exotics refer to wagers that cover multiple races on any single day at a given track.

Horizontal Exotics

The main horizontal exotics are the exacta (aka perfecta, in some markets), trifecta, and superfecta. These types of exotic bets can also be “boxed,” which is a strategy many horseplayers use.

  1. Exacta/Perfecta – If you place an exacta bet, you are picking two specific horses to finish in 1st and 2nd place, in that exact order. You can “box” an exacta, allowing the horses you choose to finish in either order, but you will be wagering a set amount for each possible winning outcome. You can also box an exotic wager with more horses, but again, this increases your chances to win and therefore costs more to place the bet. For example, if you “box” an exacta with three horses, only two must finish in first or second, in either order. As there are six possible winning outcomes, you will pay six times what a single exacta ticket would cost. The more horses you box, the larger the price of the overall wager.
  2. Trifecta – A trifecta is exactly like the exacta above, except that you are picking three horses to finish in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, in the exact winning order. You can box a trifecta bet with as many horses as you wish, but the price gets steep in a hurry. For example, in the Kentucky Derby, a $1 trifecta win might earn you $100. That’s a nice payout. But if you box your trifecta with six horses, at $1 per possible winning combination, you’d spend $120 on the ticket. Even if your six-horse box trifecta hits, you’re still out $20!
  3. Superfecta – A superfecta is the same as an exacta or a trifecta, but here, you’re picking the four horses to finish in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, in order. A $1 superfecta bet can be boxed, and a winning ticket can pay upwards of $20,000 or more. Again, however, boxing these can get pricey in an instant. A 13-horse boxed $1 superfecta has 17,160 different winning combinations, so it will cost you $17,160. Even if the payout is $20,000, that’s a pretty outsize risk for most gamblers.

Vertical Exotics

Vertical exotic wagers are commonplace. They allow bettors to place a single wager covering several different races’ results. The most common vertical exotics that you’ll find are Pick 3, Pick 5, or Pick 6 wagers. Pick 3 bets require you to choose three of the day’s races at a particular track and correctly pick each of those races’ winning horses. Pick 5s work the same way, except you’re picking 5 different race winners. Pick 6s are again the same, only you’re selecting 6 different races’ winners.

Not all tracks have Pick 5s and Pick 6s, but just about every single horse racing bookmaker will have Pick 3s. Pick 2s are even more common, although they are usually referred to as Daily Doubles. Some tracks will let you pick the races you’re betting on, while others will mandate specific races that such vertical exotics apply to. Daily Doubles almost always require you to wager on two consecutive races, making them quite a lot tougher than they might otherwise be. Vertical exotics have huge moneymaking potential. Many lucky bettors have won hundreds of thousands of dollars hitting on comparatively inexpensive Pick 5 or Pick 6 bets.

Horse Racing: What Are Wheeled Bets?

A wheeled bet means that you place a wager on a specific outcome, and then a range of further outcomes in addition to it. Here’s how Bovada explains it:
Example: If you wheel the #2 horse with the #4, #5 and #7 horses (2 / 4,5,7), your bet is a success if the first two finishers are 2-4, 2-5, or 2-7. Conversely, if you wheel the #4, #5 and #7 horses with the #2 horse (4,5,7 / 2), the grade for your bet will be a win if the first two finishers are 4-2, 5-2, or 7-2.
Effectively, this allows you to hedge. You can make one strong prediction, and then several weaker predictions. Therefore, you receive a payout if the strong prediction and one of your weak predictions pan out.

Horse Racing: What Are Boxed Wagers?

Boxed bets allow you to hedge a little bit by giving you wiggle room on an Exacta. For example, you can wager on the first and second horses in a race to finish first and second. But, if you aren’t sure of the order, you can box the wager so it doesn’t matter what order they finish in, as long as they both finish first and second.

Horse Racing: What Is A Coupled Entry?

Sometimes, horses trained by the same trainer, or from the same stable, can be bet on as a unit. Handicapped a bit, these odds are a nice way to wager on a stable of top-tier horses for a profit.

Horse Racing: What Happens When A Horse Is Scratched?

When a horse is scratched from the running, racebooks remove them from the board. They are still visible as a participant, but the horse racing site will not accept wagers on the horse. Most sportsbooks gray them out.

Other Ways To Legally Bet On Horse Races

Outside of the betting types mentioned earlier, there are even more options like futures, prop bets and two-way betting. Online racebooks, both regulated and international, and physical racetracks all offer betting lines such as these and more. You will find there is no shortage of ways to wager on horse races. Particularly during the Triple Crown, events you will find a slew of odds and betting lines available.

Where To Bet On Horses From A Mobile Device

Mobile betting on horse races is easier than ever in 2024. The best horse racebooks are going to be the ones that operate internationally, so they offer the most odds at the best prices. This means that you’ll want to use mobile betting sites that take US players instead of apps. They are more widely available than the app-based websites. All you have to do is visit a book like Bovada on your mobile device to get started with horse betting.

Devices That Can Bet On Horse Races

  • iPhone
  • Samsung Galaxy
  • Google Pixel
  • Android
  • LG Wing
  • Microsoft Surface

IPhone Horse Race Betting

You can easily bet on horse races with iPhones when you use mobile websites for horse race betting. To get started, use Safari to visit a website like Bovada or BetOnline. Then, select the Horse Racing option that is clickable on the top bar at most iPhone betting sites.

Android Horse Race Betting

Betting on horse races with Android devices is easy as long as you know how to do it. The first step is to use your browser to visit the website of a trustworthy Android sportsbook like Bovada. Once you’ve done that, you can start betting on horse races by using the horse race section at that sportsbook. Note that Bovada does NOT have an app!

Horse Racing Futures

Futures represent outcomes that are still far off on the horse racing calendar. The best example of horse racing futures occurs in the lead-up to the Kentucky Derby, as most sites post the odds before the field is set. The Kentucky Derby can only feature a maximum of 20 different horses, but at most overseas bookmakers have 40+ ponies to choose from. Half or more of these won’t even make the Run for the Roses. That means you’d lose the bet if you pick a horse that doesn’t make the cut.

Futures bets are never refunded if your horse doesn’t actually run in the race, regardless of why. Even if the pony is a late scratch, a futures bet is always binding and always has action. (A reputable book will typically refund a race-day scratch for pari-mutuel bet types. But futures are house-banked, not pool-based, and not refunded as such.)

Horse Racing Props

Horse racing prop bets are akin to proposition wagers in other sports. The book provides you with any number of scenarios, and you choose whether or not that scenario will happen. Horse racing props typically come in the form of a yes/no or over/under wager. Like futures, these are almost always exclusively house-banked rather than pari-mutuel. As such, you can only really find a comprehensive slate of horse racing props at offshore racebooks.

Some examples of horse racing props you might come across include if a given pony will beat the course record, how many lengths the winning horse will win by, or if a given trainer’s horse(s) will podium. Prop wagers are always a ton of fun, and in some ways, it’s a shame that they’re only really available online. However, they’re a great reason to join an offshore racebook, even if you have easy access to a local track or OTB.

Horse Race Betting Deposits

Depositing into your horse betting account comes extremely easy as there are several different ways to do so. Regardless of which of the deposit methods at online sportsbooks you choose, you’ll need to follow different guidelines. Guidelines depend on the method you choose. They include deposit limits, transaction fees, and processing times. Some of the deposit methods that you can choose from on different online betting sites include:

  • Cryptocurrency
  • Debit/Credit Card
  • MatchPay
  • Money Order
  • Wire Transfer

Betting On Horse Races With Cryptocurrency

There are several opportunities for you to bet on horse races with cryptocurrency on many different online racebooks. These books will let you place your horse race bets with 10+ cryptos and each of them has plenty of perks. One of the main perks is the convenience of how easy the process is once you link your crypto wallet directly to your online racebook account. Other things to get excited about when betting on horse races with cryptocurrency are the fast processing times and no deposit or withdrawal fees. Some cryptocurrencies at legal sports betting sites that you can choose from to bet with are:

Online Horse Race Betting Bonuses

For all new and existing players, there are horse racing betting bonuses available at the sites reviewed on this page. ​ The great thing about bonuses at horse race betting sites is that they do not limit you to signing up for just one specific betting site. You have the option of signing up for more than one betting site and using all of the bonuses for horse racing.

  • Bovada: 5% Rebate
  • BetOnline: 9% Rebate
  • MyBookie: 8% Rebate
  • XBet: 7% Rebate
  • SportsBetting: 9% Rebate

How To Collect Your Horse Race Betting Winnings

One of the most important things to know from an online horse race betting site is how to withdraw your funds. You have many options when it comes to withdrawing, but it is worth noting that credit and debit card payouts are not one of those options. If you deposited with a credit or debit card, you’ll need to withdraw with another payment method. Also, you can only withdraw with crypto if you made your initial deposit with it. Some of the different online betting withdrawal method are:

  • Cryptocurrency
  • MatchPay
  • Echeck
  • Check By Courier
  • Voucher
  • Money Order
  • Wire Transfer

Common Terms Used During Horse Races That All Bettors Should Know

Often when listening to commentators as you’re watching a race, they will use terms that only seasoned horse racing goers would understand. It’s important to know what these terms mean when it comes to betting on a horse. If you’d rather pick a horse based on what you’re seeing rather than it’s listed odds, these words will help you all the more.

Made All – When they say that a horse “made all” it means that they got themselves into first place during a race and remained there till the end.

Dwelt – Basically meaning when a horse trots at their own speed and does not try to get ahead in the race by galloping at a faster rate.

Supplement – To supplement a horse means that the horse has entered the competition during its final rounds. To supplement a horse means the owner will typically have to pay in order to get the horse a spot.

EW – When EW is referenced in horse betting it stands for Each Way bet. This bet has two sections; for the horse to win and then for the horse to place.

Quinella – Two horses are chosen and if those horses finish first and second is either order, you win. Secondary term for an exacta box.

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Are The Online Racebooks Safe?

Yes, the online racebooks we recommend are safe to use. Whether you use websites like Twinspires and TVG, or turn to offshores like Bovada and BetOnline, you should be in good hands. Just make sure you stick to the websites that are vouched for by those you trust. We as a website cannot vouch for every single online racebook, only the ones that we use.

What’s The Difference Between Offshore And State Sanctioned Books?

In terms of how it affects you, the wagerer, functionally none. They offer the same odds and the same functionality. However, the state sanctioned books are just that – state sanctioned. They might have mildly worse odds, given that they are taxed, but they could be a good option depending on your preference. The choice is up to you.