Different Factors That Will Affect Your Horse Racing Bet

min read
Two horses race down the track.
BetMGM @BETMGM Aug 25, 2021, 7:41 AM

Are you interested in learning how to bet on horse racing or want to find out how to improve your odds of winning through the best horse racing betting strategies? No matter whether you’re a complete online sports betting novice who’s just getting into horse racing or someone who’s been betting on the ponies for years, we have a number of factors for you to keep in mind when you place your bet. 

1. Horse, jockey and track conditions

Before you think about placing your bet, it’s a good idea to research the conditions that may affect the outcome of the race. The three most important conditions to keep in mind are the horse, the jockey and the track conditions. Here is a list of the three elements and some of the factors you need to keep in mind:


  • Age 
  • Time since its last race
  • Any recent injuries
  • Optimal race distance
  • Best track surface
  • Running style
  • Any handicap it’s carrying
  • What time of year it is


  • Recent performance
  • Whether they are a horse’s regular rider
  • Their experience on a specific horse
  • Weight and height
  • Riding style


  • Surface type
  • Recent weather conditions
  • How these weather conditions have affected the track surface

2. Understanding the odds when you place your bet

With so many formats used in horse betting, it’s important to understand how horse racing betting odds work before you place your wager. American horse racing odds are expressed according to how much you have to spend in order to win a certain amount. 

For example, a horse that’s favored to win might have odds of +140 (which is also referred to in fractional odds as 7 to 5.) This means that for every $5 you spend, you’ll get $7 if the horse wins the race. On the other hand, if a horse is less likely to win, it might have odds of +700 (or 7 to 1.) This means that for every dollar that you spend, you’ll get $7 if the horse wins the race, because the winning outcome is less likely to happen.

While these odds are reasonably easy to understand, you may be more interested in a more “concrete” number upon which you can base your decision. This is where implied probability comes in. 

Implied probability takes the odds you are given and converts it into a percentage that’s easier to understand in terms of the pure chance your bet has to win. No matter if you’re interested in betting on a horse, an athlete or a team, this percentage will more clearly represent their chances of winning the respective event. 

Here are some examples:

  • +200 odds equals 33.33% implied probability (chance to win.)
  • +100 odds equals 50% implied probability (chance to win.)
  • -200 equals 66.7% implied probability (chance to win.)
  • -500 equals 83.33% implied probability (chance to win.)

While there are formulas to calculate these probabilities manually, they can be rather complicated. The good news is that you can simply hop onto your favorite search engine,  type “implied probability calculator,” click search and you’ll find a number of websites that can do all the math for you. All that remains is to choose your level of risk for your wagers.

3. Diversify your bets

While it will require you to spend more, or spread your bankroll across more options, you can choose to diversify by betting on multiple horses in a single race, or across multiple races. There are different types of bets, including vertical exotic bets like the exacta, trifecta or superfecta, that you can wager on for a single race. You can also wager on the results of multiple races using horizontal exotic bets such as the daily double, pick 3 or pick 4, if the idea of wagering on multiple races is more appealing than betting on numerous horses in a single race. 

4. Consider using an advanced betting strategy

These strategies may not be ideal for first-time sports bettors (yes, some of these apply to other types of sports too,) so rather than going into detail for each one, we’re going to briefly introduce you to each. You can then decide if you want to dig deeper by doing additional research online, or whether your own approach works better for you.

Here are a few advanced approaches to betting you may be interested in:

  • Dutching – Also known as “Dutch betting,” Dutching is a betting strategy where you simply place multiple bets on a single race, or, a strategy more commonly known as hedging your bets. Where Dutching gets tricky is doing the math so that you make a profit, regardless of which horse wins the race, so expect to spend some time calculating this. Also, there’s the risk that none of the horses that you wager on will win, making it a risky gamble.
  • Lay betting – Lay betting is where you wager money against a horse NOT winning the race (a great option if you ever imagined yourself as a bookie.) Considering there can only be one winner in any race, this immediately boosts your odds of “winning,” even if it means that the horse you wagered on is a “loser.”
  • Each-way betting – An each-way bet is a single bet that consists of two components. The first is a wager that your horse will win the race. The second is another wager that your horse will place in one of the other top spots. The place ranks are determined by the number of horses in the race.

    This bet is more costly than a regular win or place wager, as you are required to bet an equal amount on both components of the bet. However, if the horse finishes first, you take home the winnings for both the first and place wagers. If you only get the place win, you’ll also receive a payout, but it will only be a fraction of the total odds.   

5. Take advantage of any promotions sportsbooks are offering

We’ve left the simplest factor for last. We know that most people have limited bankrolls, which is why it’s so important to make the most of what you have. One way you can make your bankroll go further is by taking advantage of any promotions the sportsbook is offering. There are a number of bonuses you can take advantage of, depending on the bookmaker, including:

  • Welcome offers
  • Cashback bonuses
  • Horse racing rebates

Be sure to check what great deals you can take advantage of before you place your bets, so that you can get the most bang for your buck.

Enjoy the best horse racing odds at BetMGM

If you enjoy the best online sports betting lines and are looking for horse racing bets, you can find them at BetMGM. Our excellent online sportsbook recently partnered with NYRA Bets, the official online platform for NYRA horse racing. 

All you need to do is register with BetMGM to start placing your bets on the races, which can be done easily via our desktop or mobile sports betting platforms.  

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.