Horse Racing Betting — Top Horse Races, Betting Terms & Tips
Sports fans in Ontario love betting on horse races. If you want a better shot at maximizing your winnings, you must come up with a good strategy.
That’s why we put together this comprehensive guide to help you educate yourself on the most profitable horse racing bets. We recommend taking the time to learn the rules, the commonly-used horse racing betting terms, the potential payouts, and how to sustain a responsible betting attitude.
Sports betting sites in Ontario are not allowed to offer bets on horse racing. However, they boast more than 20 sports, 50+ betting markets and competitive odds. Keep reading below to see where you can bet on horse racing online.
Residents of Ontario can legally bet on horse racing in one of two ways. Led by Woodbine Racetrack, the province currently has 15 physical racetracks and many more off-track betting facilities. There you can place your bets on any live racing happening in Ontario or on numerous tracks outside the province. Woodbine Entertainment Group also offers and operates two apps, HPIbet and Dark Horse Bets, where you can conveniently place your wagers.
Ontario Racing (OR) is a non-profit horseracing industry association tasked with overseeing the well-being of the horse racing industry. Among other things, they are responsible for setting up an annual program of races, growing the fan base and connecting the industry with the general public at all of the 15 race tracks within the industry. HPIBET is Canada’s only dedicated wagering platform for horse racing, giving you the opportunity to conveniently wager on more than 500 tracks globally. You can access the platform through any device, at any time and anywhere. It also includes numerous features, including live streaming, promotions and custom notifications. Dark Horse Bets App is a very easy-to-use betting app for horse racing. It is designed to not only take care of the more seasoned bettor but also to make it a rather simple process for someone new to racing to jump in and start placing wagers. It also features numerous benefits to enhance the betting experience.
Placing wagers on horse races can be a challenging experience for beginners. Thankfully, there are various types of wagers ranging from the very simple to the much more intricate. Generally speaking, the more complicated and involved the bets are, the bigger the reward.
- Straight Bets are the most simple type of wagers in parimutuel horse racing. Each race involves a single horse and includes win, place, and show. They are an excellent starting point for beginners but also a standby for seasoned bettors looking to keep things simple.
- Exotic Bets take things up a notch. They include wagers using multiple horses within a single race or a wager that is spread out over multiple races. Exotic bets range from the relatively simple exacta, quinella, or daily double to more complicated examples such as the Superfecta or Pick-5.
How to Place a Bet on Horse Races – Step-by-Step Guide
As far as placing your horse racing wager, there are only three simple steps that need to be followed.
- First, choose your horse or horse from the race you wish to bet on and remember their program number.
- Next, decide on the amount you would like to bet.
- Finally, you choose the type of bet you would like to place. A simple example of this would be expressed as C$2 to Win on #5.
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We will be expanding and updating our horse racing betting guides to meet every Ontario bettors’ needs.
Betting odds in horse racing represent the likelihood of each horse winning in that particular race as determined by the wagering public. The more a horse gets bet, the lower his odds become. The odds you see are how prices and payouts are shown at a horse track. Numbers displayed as 10/1 or 4/5 tell you how much you win and what you pay. The first number tells us how much you could win; the second number is the amount you bet on earning those winnings. So, if the odds are listed as 5/1, you’ll win C$5 for every C$1 you wager.
- Favourite: In every horse race, there is one horse which the bettors choose as the race favourite. This is the horse the most money has been placed on to win. This can sometimes change in the moments leading up to the race, but the official favourite is the one who has received the most money as betting closes. Therefore, their odds are the lowest of all the horses in the race.
- Longshot: A longshot is any horse considered one of the outsiders in the race. The consensus of the betting public is the horse has little chance of winning, but if they do, the payout becomes much greater than betting on a favourite. For example, a 30/1 longshot winner would offer C$30 in winnings for every C$1 wagered.
- Take-out: the percentage of money subtracted from the betting pools by host tracks before distributing winnings. The proceeds from the wager are split between the racers and the track to finance the establishment’s ongoing operations. It varies from track to track and on different types of wagers but is generally in the 20% range.
Results of a race are posted shortly after the race is run and declared official. The top three finishers will be displayed on the top.
- The winner will have a payout for win, place and show.
- The second-place finisher will have a payout for place and show.
- And finally, the third-place horse will just have a show payout.
Win, place and show payouts are displayed for a standard C$2 wager. Below that, you will see the winning number combinations, payouts and stake for any exotics offered in that particular race, such as exactor, triactor, and daily double.
Simple Bet – Low Risk & Low Profit
A good way for newcomers to horse racing betting to start is simple bets such as win, place, or show bets. For example, placing a bet on a 2/1 favourite in a given race and it wins, it will pay approximately C$6.00 to win, C$3.60 to place and C$2.80 to show for a C$2 wager on each. The payout is almost always smaller to show than place, and place to win, because the risk of losing is not as great.
Exotic Bet – High Risk & High Profit
Conversely, the more complicated the bet, the higher the risk and the greater the potential profit which can be made. That same horse that paid C$6.00 to win, C$3.60 to place and C$2.80 to show could still be a part of big payouts. For example, if the three horses that finish in second, third and fourth in that same race are all longshots, the Superfecta payout could be very big.
The world of horse racing betting has its language, and the better you understand the terminology, the more comfortable you will feel placing your bets. Some of the more common horse racing betting terms are defined below.
Across the Board
This is a concise way to wager on a horse coming in any of the top three spots. If the animal takes 1st place, the bettor is rewarded with all three stakes. Coming in 2nd earns the bettor the place and show winnings; in the case of 3rd, one is only rewarded with the show payment.
This happens in stakes races where the value of the race is increased by some or all of the entry fees. It includes nomination fees, which are required in advance of the event, and starter fees, which are payable at the time the event is held.
Boxed In refers to a horse with traffic trouble during a race. When you bet on a horse that is boxed in, that means it wants to move after the leaders but has no room to do so. It is considered bad racing luck or a tough trip.
The Daily Double is a parlay bet involving two consecutive races. While it is often the first two races on a card and the last two races on a card, it has become more common throughout most race cards. For your bet to win, you must select the winner of the first race and the winner of the subsequent race.
With this wager you must pick the horse that wins the race and the horse that finishes second in the correct order.
This bet is actually two exactor bets on one ticket using the same pair of horses. Your horses can run first and second in either order for your wager to be a winner, but it costs twice as much as a straight exactor.
A graded stakes race is the best of the best in horse racing in North America. If a stakes race qualifies upon statistical analysis of the quality of the field in previous years, it is given the designation of grades I, II, or III, with Grade I being the highest level and so on.
A person who employs the data of previous track records to forecast the result of a horse race is viewed as a handicapper.
The total amount of wagers placed on any given race or race card is referred to as the track’s handle.
The daily double, which features the last two races of the day’s racing card, is often referred to as the late double.
The odds as set by the track to get the betting public started. They are a prediction of how the oddsmaker thinks each horse will be bet. The best morning lines are the ones that end up as close as possible to the odds when betting closes.
The most common form of horse racing betting. It is different than making a bet against the race track but is rather wagering against other bettors. Because of this, the payouts on a single wager could range anywhere from extremely small to very large amounts.
Perfecta is synonymous with exactor. You must select the first two horses in a race in the correct order.
Not sure of your ability to pick winners yet? Let the computer randomly select the numbers for you and hope for the best.
Cashing in a superfecta wager requires you to pick the first four horses in order of their finish.
If you like four horses within a race, you can play a superfecta box which will cover any possible combination of the four horses finishing in the top four spots. A four-horse superfecta box would cost C$24 for every C$1 wagered.
Successfully betting a triactor requires you to pick the first three horses in order of their finish.
Like the exacta box, this triactor box hedges your bet but also costs more money to wager. In a three-horse triactor box, there would be six possible winning combinations, and you bet on all of them. For example, if you like the 1, 3, and 5 horses in a race, your triactor box will pay out on any possible outcome where they finish in the first three spots: 1,3,5 – 1,5,3 – 3,5,1 – 3,1,5 – 5,3,1 – 5,1,3. This ticket would cost c$6 for a C$1 wager.
The most popular races in Canada to bet on are also the richest and most prestigious to win. Beginning in the summer and stretching into the fall, Canada’s Triple Crown is held each year at two different racetracks, on three different racing surfaces, and at three different distances. Then, later in the fall, two of the most prestigious turf races in North America are contested at Woodbine and attract top grass runners from both Europe and North America.
The Canadian Triple Crown
The Canadian Triple Crown is a series of three races that takes place during summer. Let’s explore the most important details and whether or not you should consider placing bets on the Canadian Triple Crown races.
The King’s Plate
Formally known as the Queen’s Plate but renamed in 2023 in honour of the accession of King Charles III, this is Canada’s most important horse race. Run each summer over 1 1/4 miles on Woodbine’s all-weather track. The year will mark the 164th running of the $1 million race. It is the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown. It is Canada’s answer to America’s Kentucky Derby.
The Prince of Wales Stakes
The second leg of the Triple Crown moves over to Fort Erie Race Track in Ontario and is run at 1 3/16 miles on the Ontario track’s traditional dirt racing surface. Held each year in late summer, the race was inaugurated in 1929 and became part of the Triple Crown in 1959.
The Breeder’s Stakes
The third and final leg of the Triple Crown is held each fall and moves back to Woodbine. The only race in the series contested on grass is run at 1 1/2 miles, one full lap around the E. P. Taylor Turf Course, and assures that any horse who can sweep the series is an exceptional horse. Only seven horses have won the Breeders’ Stakes to complete the Triple Crown in its modern format.
Graded Stakes Races
Graded Stakes Races are some of the most sought-after horse racing events, as a horse needs to be at the top of its game to compete and win. There’s no doubt why these races are the pinnacle of the sport.
This million-dollar stakes race continues the excellent turf tradition of Woodbine Racetrack. First contested in 1991, it moved to one mile over the turf six years later. One of the key feeder races for the Breeders’ Cup Mile, a number of champions have won both events, including Wise Dan, who did it in both 2012 and 2013.
Canadian International Stakes
Contested each October at Woodbine, this Grade 1 stakes race has long held its place as one of North America’s most prestigious turf races. First run in 1938, the 1 1/2-mile grass race has attracted many champions over the years, including the great Secretariat back in 1973.
Understanding value is one of the best ways to become a successful bettor in horse racing. It’s always wise to seek out horses who have higher odds than you believe they should have. Whether it be a simple wager or an exotic wager, or a combination of both, if you are consistently betting on horses who offer good value, you will come out ahead in the long run. It’s often been said that you can’t win the maximum you could by always betting on your favourite.
Responsible Horse Racing Betting
For most, betting on horse racing is an enjoyable activity. For some, if done compulsively, it can become a destructive problem. It is always best to wager only what you can afford to lose. If you think you have a problem, there is good help, such as ConnexOntario.
❓ Horse Racing Betting FAQs
Wagers can be placed at the track, off-track betting sites or online platforms. Be prepared with the number of the horse or horses you want to bet on, your wager amount, and the type of bet you would like to make.
The most common bets in horse racing are Win, Place, and Show. To cash in a winning bet, your horse must finish first. Your horse must finish first or second to cash in a place bet. And to cash in a show bet, your horse must finish in the top three.
The most advantageous wager in horse racing includes the most horses or combinations available. Depending on the race, the exotic wager is the most difficult to select. Examples include the Pick-6 (selecting the winner of six consecutive races) or the Super High-5 (selecting the first five horses in a single race in order).
The odds of winning correspond with the payouts. The higher the odds of your horse or horses, or the more possible combinations of your exotic wager, the less likely you will win, but the more money you will collect.
The more information you have about a horse and a race, the more likely you are to pick a winner. While it’s always good to educate yourself and become the best handicapper you can become, sometimes there is nothing better than a little bit of luck.
There are numerous types of bets in horse racing, but in the most simple terms, there are straight bets, which are betting on a single horse in a single race, or exotic bets, which involve multiple horses in a race or multiple races.
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Eamon has been involved in sports journalism for over six years. If asked to identify his enduring sporting passion, however, horse racing would always be the answer. Eamon has a keen interest in Canadian horse races. Most of all, he enjoys writing betting-themed articles that can give punters an edge over bookmakers for more profitable bets. He is an advocate of betting on big-priced outsiders for long-term gain and making the best use of alternative markets.