How To Bet Late in Horse Racing

min read
A racecourse bookmaker with cash in hand, next to a betting machine and a sign saying “Each Way Taken.”
BetMGM @BETMGM Mar 23, 2023, 7:11 AM

When we talk about the “late bet” in horse racing, we aren’t talking about getting your bet in after the closing time, but rather using your time optimally to see the horses in action. Whether you’re using an online sports betting platform or you’re placing a wager in person, this type of betting is an ideal option if you want to get your wager in just before bets close. 

Let’s take a look at what a late bet is in horse racing, how to place one, and the pros and cons of these types of bets in horse racing.

What is a Late Bet in Horse Racing?

There are a number of different types of betting in horse racing, but the late bet is undoubtedly one of the most popular. One of the most useful horse racing insider tips is to have a look at the horses in the preliminaries before they race, but to do this, you’ll have to wait until the last moment to place your wager.

Late betting is when punters place a bet on a horse race either right before the race begins or even during the race itself. It’s important to check the close of betting times before you decide to place a late bet, however. Some places will allow you to bet within the first few laps of a race, but others will close betting when the horses are in the gate.

How to Place a Late Bet

If you are considering a late bet, there are a few things you need to do. First, you must decide whether you’re going to place your bet yourself at the racecourse or if you’re going to bet online. 

Once you’ve decided how you are going to place your bet, it comes down to selecting the horse, or horses, that you want to bet on. There is plenty of preparation you can do before the race itself.

  • Study form in advance: You can buy a program, Daily Racing form or a pro racecard on the day of the race to help study form in advance. This will indicate which horses have been performing well recently.
  • Create a shortlist: It can be overwhelming with so many horses to choose from, but you should make a list of the most promising runners from their recent form so that you can concentrate on watching those few in the paddock and preliminaries.
  • Keep an eye on the betting market: The betting market will show which horses are fancied and will give indications of any changes. If the favorite’s odds have weakened the morning of the race, it usually means that they aren’t performing at their best.
  • Note the weather and track conditions: Certain horses perform better in some conditions than others. Know what conditions your favorites thrive in and listen carefully to the announcer when they discuss the going of the track. It could be soft or slower going, it could be wetter going if there’s rain or it’s going be more compact going if it’s a hot, dry time of year.
  • Observe the horses parading: This is when you really get to see how the horses on your shortlist are feeling. It’s always good for a horse to look excited for a race, but if they’ve got two handlers, are separated from the group, etc., then it’s likely they are being a bit headstrong and this isn’t always a good thing. Look for signs of excitement but control.
  • Place your bet: If you’re placing your bet in person, then this is probably when you’ll have to do it, as you might not have time to come back before they close the betting. If you’re betting online, however, you may be able to wait until the horses are in the gate or even after watching the first few laps. Just be sure to check what the cutoff time for betting is to avoid missing out.

The Pros and Cons of Late Betting


One of the biggest benefits of late betting is that you get the most amount of information that you possibly can before you place your bet. Not only are you able to glean as much research as you can from the betting odds, race program and form guides, but you’re also able to see how the horses are behaving for yourself. 

Many of the most successful horse racing bettors ensure that they see the horses in the build to the race and will base the entirety of their betting strategy on what they observe in the preliminaries. 

A late bet also allows you to take advantage of any change in the betting odds before the race. If a favorite horse has been behaving badly or isn’t 100% on the day of the race, you’ll be able to notice by monitoring any weakening of the odds. This means you can place your bet on the next favorite to win the race.


There aren’t many cons when it comes to late betting, except perhaps time pressure and movement in the odds. 

Betting just before or during the race means that you have to be super aware of your time constraints, especially if you are betting in person at the track. Leave it just a little bit late and the bets will be closed and you either won’t be able to place one, or it won’t count. This could be a bit stressful for a few people.

As mentioned earlier, the odds can swing either way before a race and while this is something you can take advantage of, it’s also something that could count against you. This might be the case if, for example, you wanted to bet on a particular horse from the beginning that had decent odds but wasn’t the favorite, but you waited to see them in person and then bet. Circumstances could change and the horse’s odds shorten, which means you will get less bang for your buck if they were to go on and win the race.

Place Your Horse Racing Bets With BetMGM

At BetMGM, we have a whole host of horse racing betting options available. Whether you’re looking to bet on international races, or something a bit closer to home like NYRA bets, we’ve got you covered.

Register with BetMGM and take advantage of our excellent horse racing bets and information.

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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.