When To Consider Late Betting in Horse Racing

min read
A horse and jockey isolated on a white background.
BetMGM @BETMGM Nov 02, 2022, 10:50 AM

From Churchill Downs to Delaware Park, horse racing has created some of sport’s most mesmerizing venues. Whether it’s the dirt or grass surface, the high hurdles or the punters’ outfits, it always delivers a spectacle. Over the last decade, online sports betting has added to the excitement through the innovation of in-play betting and allowing punters to hold off on their bets and stake during races. The result? A fun, enthralling and restless crowd!

This has prompted much discussion about the effectiveness of late betting. Is it financially worth it? Does it hinder or boost the odds? These are some of the questions frequently being asked. We dive into this debate to discuss when gamblers should consider late betting in horse racing.

Sports betting and horse racing

Since its beginning, horse racing and betting have gone hand in hand. In America alone, approximately $12 billion is staked annually and an additional $100-$150 billion is estimated to be placed through the illegal sports betting market. With a new wave of online sports books such as NYRA bets entering the online domain, these numbers will likely increase. 

There are several different types of horse racing, each with its own cult of passionate fans who come to enjoy the day and bet on some of the best horses in the world.

Late betting indicators

Late betting refers to bets placed during the race and gives gamblers an opportunity to observe horses’ performance in progress. Experienced punters constantly analyze a horse’s stride, how much the jockey has to push them and the ease of their leaps. These are the key indicators they study before placing a bet.

So, is it better to bet early or late? Betting early is the more popular approach, but it does have its drawbacks. Some races go on for a couple of minutes and horses are unpredictable. They can tire out, fail to start or, worse, fall. Late betting allows you to watch them in real time and make a judgment based on their performance. It is a gamble, but you get a better sense of the horse’s performance and whether it will make it to the finish line.

Interestingly enough, it’s not the best indicator for a horse to be leading the race from the start. Races are often won by horses from the middle or even the back of the pack, from where they then work their way up lap by lap. Horses at the front often exert themselves, which causes them to fall behind in later stages of the race. If your preferred horse is tight to the main group and not in front, it may be a good sign to place a late bet.

Physically being at the track gives you a more accurate way of reading the signals since you’re able to watch the horses close up. It also gives you the opportunity to watch the horses walk around the parade ring before the race. For experienced betters, this is the deciding factor when they consider which horse to stake on. They look at intricate details, such as the horse’s behavior, how they’re trotting and if they seem hungry for the challenge. Then, of course, there is also the buzz and lots of invaluable information you may pick up from other punters around you.

How to prepare for late betting

With late betting, preparation is key. Odds are constantly going up and down, so picking the right moment is crucial for a fruitful return. If your question is, how late can you bet on the Kentucky Derby? The answer is, up until the final straight. However, be sure to lock in a bet before the final straight since you may experience betting sites freezing all bets during the race. The same applies for all other races.

So, with time not on your side, there are a number of ways to make sure you are prepared. Firstly, picking out a shortlist of horses beforehand is a great way to avoid being overwhelmed by so many horses on the track. For instance, there are 20 horses in the Grand National. By picking out a select few, you’re able to react quicker when you are getting ready to place a late bet. Also bear in mind that odds are constantly changing as horses change positions, so being alert is crucial to placing a successful bet. Timing is everything.

Noting down the odds on offer beforehand is another great indicator of whether a bet is worth it or not. That’s because horse racing bets are explained by the odds. The higher the odds, the less likely a horse is to win in the eyes of the bookies. For example, if you bet on Tiger Roll at 100/1 and stake $10, you will win $1000 if it wins. How to read horse racing odds can be trickier for higher-ranking horses. Heavy favorites sometimes have odds as low as 4/5, which means that for every $4 dollars placed, you will make $1 profit if your horse wins. 

Horse racing on BetMGM

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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.