An Overview of Risk Management in Horse Racing Betting

min read
Horses racing on a dirt track
BetMGM @BETMGM Feb 16, 2023, 12:42 PM

Betting on horse races can be risky when you’re underprepared and too many people jump into betting having done little to no research. Even though luck plays its part in every race, there are ways in which you can minimize the amount of risk involved.

Proper risk management is effective for all types of online sports betting, but it’s particularly useful when dealing with the high variance of horse racing. Bet types are diverse in both options and outcomes, which means that you need to have a clear idea of what to expect from your horse racing picks.

But what are the different bets you can make? And how do they affect your risk profile? Before we can move on to the stages of sports betting risk management, let’s break down basic betting types to get a clearer idea of what to expect.

Types of bets

Straight bets

Straight bets are the simplest form of horse betting. A straight bet is always wagered on a single horse with odds determined by the horse’s performance history. Straight bets are worthwhile if a horse has high win odds, but there’s no such thing as a sure bet.

There are three types of straight bets, namely win bets, show bets and place bets. For a win bet, your chosen horse has to cross the line in first place; a show bet covers any podium finish, while a place bet only pays out if your choice finishes first or second.

In horse racing, straight bets are often combined to form a pool of winnings. The pool pays out to each winning bettor according to probable payouts, but this also means that show and place bets are shared between the top finishers. 

Exotic bets

Close-up of the legs of three horses in a race

Unlike straight bets, exotic bets are wagers which include multiple horses. These wagers can either be horizontal or vertical. Horizontal bets cover two to six races, while vertical bets require you to select the order of finishing for several horses in a single race.

Horizontal bets are made on specific combinations, such as Pick 3 or Pick 5, for example. Vertical bets can be exactas, trifectas or superfectas. Exactas are for first and second place; trifectas add in the third place and superfectas predict four finishers in the correct order.

Exotic wagers are highly popular with professional bettors, in part, because of the real-time feedback of live horse racing odds. When that’s combined with the ability to box bets, the risk of things such as dead heats and disqualifications can be offset. 

Before you can bet on horse racing, it’s important to have a solid plan for risk management and an efficient betting strategy. You want to avoid as much risk as possible in order to gamble responsibly. So, with that in mind, let’s move on to the foundation of every solid plan of action.

Stages of management

The two elements involved in sports betting payment risk management are bankroll size and staking system. From a finance point of view, these elements refer to your budget and your risk tolerance respectively.


Bankroll is the amount of money you allocate to your betting pursuits and it’s based on personal preference combined with stress avoidance. Although the limit of your bankroll refers to how much money you’re willing to lose, different individuals have different levels of discomfort, with the common objective being to avoid discomfort altogether. 

Every horse racing betting strategy should include clear goals, a limit on the amount of total betting funds and a fixed percentage of budget per bet. Generally speaking, experienced punters place 3% of their bankroll on individual bets regardless of whether it’s a straight or exotic bet.

Staking systems

Horses and jockeys in a race

The second element, known as a staking system, uses a set of long-term goals to inform your stake-sizing strategy. These systems inform your betting habits and can be low, moderate or high risk. 

Because it’s impossible to predict the outcome of a race, even the best horse racing betting sites have a high variance in outcomes. In other words, it’s possible to calculate for every bet what your odds of winning are, but those odds should never influence your betting decisions.

Decisions have to be made with a long-term strategy in mind, which is the main reason why goals are critical for a stress-free betting experience. Your betting goals have to be realistic. They should reflect responsible habits and only generate risks you’re comfortable with.

Professional bettors understand that disciplined betting must be balanced with accepting high variance. No matter how effective your strategy may be, things can still take an unexpected turn and the secret is to prepare yourself mentally for all possible outcomes.

Perfect your strategies with BetMGM

If you’re looking for a variety of sports to test your staking strategies, head over to our sports betting page and get started in no time. We have an extensive range of sports to choose from, with clear odds and real-time updates that will aid your risk management efforts.

BetMGM First Bet Offer $1,500
About the Author


Read More @BETMGM

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.