How to Bet on Horses

Although it is not a requirement, the first time someone visits the Kentucky Derby they will want to try to win a bet. Despite this, you do not need to visit Churchill Downs on the day of the races in order to win on horses.

Either way, knowing how to bet on horses for the Kentucky Derby is the same at the track, at a casino, or online. Just like playing the lottery, you never know if you will strike it big. Regardless, with a few basic tips, you will be on your way to deciphering the odds and winning on the horses.

Bet on the horse that performs best

During the days before the Kentucky Derby, you will start to see information popping up on a horse racing websites that talk about Kentucky Derby favorites. You will also find information on the official Kentucky Derby website about the current pool. Obviously, before the Kentucky Derby starts, people are placing bets in advance.

Along with information from the track about who they think will win, you will also see information next to each horse about which the public thinks will win. You can go several ways with this information in order to win on your lucky horse. Regardless, it pays to know a little bit about locations you can place your bet in advance.

Where you can place a bet on the Kentucky Derby

Naturally, once you have the information needed on which horses will perform best at the Kentucky Derby, your next steps will be to place a bet.  Of course, not everyone believes in gambling, but if you do, there are some misconceptions to get past. First, always remember that you do not actually need to be at Churchill Downs to bet on the Kentucky Derby. Regardless, this does not mean that every source on the internet that advertises gambling is legal.

However, you can easily find information online that shows you which sites are legal and illegal.  For example, a casino will be following all of the rules. Online, there are websites that will let you know which types of rules virtual or online gambling sites should be using.  More often than not, if you are breaking any rules, you will be alerted by your internet provider about state and federal regulations.

The official Kentucky Derby gambling pool

When you look at the Kentucky Derby favorites or contenders published at the official Kentucky Derby website, you soon see that there is a betting pool of several millions of dollars. As you start to click around for more information, you see a description about how betting works, betting terms, and the fact that they use the Kentucky Derby Future Wager (KDFW) bet type.

Interestingly, if you think that they are advertising placing bets at the website — think again.  They clearly state that “The fastest and easiest way to wager on the 2012 Kentucky Derby is online”. Sure, you can place a bet at Churchill Downs, but they are recommending that you contribute to the betting pool by using online sources.

They close their statement by saying, “If you bet online for the Kentucky Derby, please make sure you choose a reputable company. takes no responsibility for the services these websites provide”.

Placing a Kentucky Derby bet online

As it is stated at the Kentucky Derby website, there are a variety of online gambling websites that are legal. Without naming names, there are plenty of ways to tell if a website is legitimate. For example, some gambling websites will have an extensive forum from past users. They will also have secure payment systems that contain verifiable certificates. Still, one of the main features that you will want to look for is the fact that they allow you to make a wager.

Placing your first wager

To place your first wager online, you can open an account and give them all the relative information you will need to get yourself established. Once you fill out the forms, you can go through the website and look for the racetrack and race that you want.

Of course, they will not have the Kentucky Derby too far in advance. Instead, you will want to start looking for the Kentucky Derby about a month before it actually starts. You may not be able to place the bet right away, but you will start to see information populating a specific Kentucky Derby page at most gambling websites around mid-April.

When you have figured out which horses that you think will win, you can start out simple and bet on one horse to finish first. This is technically called “bet a horse to win”.

Easy bets for beginners

Being new to the horse betting world does not mean you need to do without. Instead, there are two types of betting and one is for beginners. The first is called straight wagering and the other is called exotic betting. Beginners will stick to straight wagering and that means betting a horse to win, placing horses, betting a show, or betting across the board.

How to place a bet on horses

If you walk up to a betting clerk at a racetrack, you will give a certain order to them that states

1) the race number

2) amount you want to bet

3) the type of bet (win, show, place, across the board),

4) the exact number of horse(s).

Online, this system is exactly the same.  You will not deal with a clerk, but you will see drop down menus that allow you to select the race, the type of bet, your wager amount, and the horse you want to bet on. From there, you are on your way to figuring out how lucky you are by betting at any of our recommended online racebooks.