General Information for Beginners
1. Choose Your Horse
You can choose the horse you want to bet on for fun (because you like its name, its number is your lucky number or its saddle pad is your favourite colour) or you can refer to the detailed information in the racing program which will allow you to make a more informed decision based on the horse’s record as well as that of its jockey/driver, or trainer. See “Understanding Odds” to choose a horse based on the morning line (who is most likely to win).
2. Decide on the Finish Position You Want to Bet On
WIN: Your horse must finish first.
PLACE: Your horse must finish first or second.
SHOW: Your horse must finish first, second or third. This is the safest bet for someone starting out. You won’t win too much money, but you may have a better chance of winning something.
3. Place Your Bet
- Once you've decided on your horse, where you think it will finish and how much you want to bet, it’s time to go to the betting or “mutuel” window. Each window has a teller who will process your bet.
- Watch the tote board for the MTP number. That means “minutes to post”. You can bet right up until post time, but when you’re starting out it’s best to give yourself some extra time.
- You will need to give the teller the following information: the racetrack name, race number, bet amount, horse number, bet type. E.g. “Mohawk Racetrack, Race 4, $2 on #7 to WIN” or “Mohawk Racetrack, Race 7, $8 on #5 to SHOW”.
- The teller will collect your money and print out your ticket. Be sure to check your ticket to confirm it's the bet you want.
4. Watch the Race
Cheer your horse on! Shout out loud! Have fun!!
5. Check Your Ticket
- When the race is finished, check the tote board again. It will display the order of finish and show you what the winnings are for the top three horses based on a $2 bet. If you bet more than $2, just multiply the figure. E.g. If a “Show” bet pays $2.80 and you bet $4, you would win $5.60.
- If you won, you must wait until the tote board says “OFFICIAL”, before you take your ticket back to the teller to cash in.
- If you didn’t win, always keep your ticket until the tote board says the race is official. If your horse placed 4th and one of the top 3 horses gets disqualified for some reason, you could still cash in!
To learn more about betting – from simple bets to exotic bets and more, see some of the other articles on this website.