Two minutes to post. The horses are on the track. If you’re thinking about placing a wager, now’s the time. The question is, who’s it gonna be? If you know what to look for, you can really help yourself out. And sure, a little luck never hurt either.
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HOW TO BE A BETTER BETTOR
The odds are simply a reflection of who the betting public thinks will win. There is no “house” in pari-mutuel wagering. In fact, “pari-mutuel” means wagering among ourselves. So as more people place wagers, the odds change. The best handicappers look at a horse’s past performances, bloodlines, owners, trainers and all kinds of other variables.
The Program — If you want to be on top of things, pick up a program. It can tell you how to understand a horse’s class, speed rating, past finishes and times and more information about who just might come out on top. There’s an easy-to-use guide in the opening section of the program that explains it all in detail. Also, at the bottom of each race page you will find the Trackman’s Selections, this is how our expert handicapper thinks the race will finish. Our program makes handicapping understandable and fun!
The Experts — No one understands the sport better than the people who study it every day, and their picks are available to you. So, pick up a tip sheet while you’re at the track and check the program for favorites. Also look for hot tips in newspapers or on the monitors at the track.
If you see a single number next to your horse on the odds board, for example, “5,” then the horse is 5 to 1. This means that, for every dollar wagered on that horse to win, the winning ticket holder would win about $5. Plus, you always get your original bet amount back!
So, for a $2 winning ticket on a 5 to 1 horse, you would receive about $12. ($5 + $5 + your $2 bet = $12.)
Sometimes, when a horse is below the odds of 5 to 1, you might see two numbers with a dash between them. The odds of 9-2 or 8-5 are typical examples. In the case of 9-2 odds, this means that, for every $2 bet, you would get about $11 back.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Even the best horses have bad days, and no race is a “lock.” But if you know what to look for, you can tell who’s ready to win or who’d rather be in the stable.
The Ears — If a horse’s ears are cocked at a 45 degree angle, it’s a great sign. A disinterested horse’s ears will appear limp and lifeless. Overactive ears suggest the potential for skittishness and excitability.
The Head — Look for horses whose heads are held high with straight necks. They’re ready to go.
The Post Position — Horses toward the inside of the track usually have an advantage because the distance they travel is actually shorter than the other horses. Post position 5 is the winningest post position at Hoosier Park.
The Consistency Factor — Look in your program to find out how many times a horse has finished “in the money” (top three) compared to how many times it has raced. The higher the win percentage, the better your chances.
The Driver — Drivers with winning records know how to get the most out of their animals. Look in the program to find their past records, then pick a winner.
If you’re new to horse racing, these are probably the bets for you. They’re easy to understand and just as exciting as more complicated wagers.
Win — 1st place. Your horse must finish first for you to
cash a ticket.
Place — 2nd place. If your horse finishes first or second,
you’re a winner.
Show — 3rd place. You’re a winner if your horse finishes anywhere among the top three.
The amount you can win depends on your horse’s odds at the time of the race. And because it’s pari-mutuel style wagering, the amount of money bet determines the amount you can win. Remember, there is no house, so the money you win is part of what everyone else bets. If you wagered $2 on a winning horse under normal circumstances, this table shows what you might win.
To place one of these wagers, you may need to do a little planning. They’re a bit more complicated. But once you understand handicapping, exotic wagers have a much higher payout.
Exacta (also called a Perfecta) — This wager requires that you pick the top two finishers in a race in exact order.
Trifecta — A wager in which you must pick the top three finishers in exact order.
Superfecta—A wager in which you must pick the top four finishers in exact order.
Pentafecta—A wager in which you must pick the top five finishers in exact order. This wager is also called the “Hoosier High-5” at Hoosier Park.
Box — If you have two or more horses that you think will finish in the top spots, but you’re not sure of the order, you can box them. For example, “An exacta box on horses #2 and #6.” You’ll be a winner if your horses finish first and second, regardless of the order (#2, #6 or #6, #2).
Wheel — In this bet, you pick one horse, then factor in (or wheel) the rest, or part of the field. So if you say, “Exacta wheel #4, with the field,” you’ll win if the #4 horse wins and any other horse comes in second.
PLACING A WAGER
1. The track — The name of the track you have selected.
“Hoosier Park, race #..."
2. Amount of wager — Your wager must total at least $2.
"Give me $2…"
3. Type of wager — Whatever you want! Win, Place, Show, Exacta, Trifecta.
4. The horse’s number — Just say the number of the
horse (or horses) that you think can get it done.
"…on number 3.”
See, it’s painless. If you do need help, ask your teller. They’re friendly. Also, look for the automated self-service terminal. They’re easy to use and the directions are on the machine. There are also several apps for mobile devices that allow you to watch races live, and bet when you can't make it to the track. Careful! You might become an addict!