9 Horse Betting Facts You Need to Know to Win

Two Jockeys and Horses Racing

If you’re an online gambler, you know that over the years there have been many bumps in the road. From payment processors coming and going to cloudy laws, a year doesn’t go by without something changing in the online gambling world.

But horse racing has been one of the most stable things you can gamble on online. Even today, most stats in the US have specific laws that legalize online horse betting, so there’s no gray area.

But being able to bet on horse online doesn’t mean it’s easy to win. Here’s a list of nine facts about horse racing that are designed to help you become a winning horse gambler.

1 – Track Conditions Matter

Track conditions are one of the most overlooked things when people handicap horse races. They don’t consider the current track conditions and they don’t even look at the track conditions in previous races.

You also need to consider the weather when you’re looking at track conditions. I always look at track conditions and weather as kind of a package deal.

It’s also challenging to get accurate track conditions from a program. The best way to evaluate them is to watch the races that you’re looking at when you’re handicapping. If you bet at the same track all of the time you can start building a database that includes things like this.

Some horse run better in med and others run well when it’s dry and sunny. These are the kinds of things you have to know to win in the long run.

2 – Starting Position Matters

This one is a fact that most horse bettors know, but just in case you’re getting started I included it. The starting position out of the gate matters in horse racing. But you can’t make assumptions concerning starting position.

Each horse is unique, and they often perform different out of different starting spots.

You need to look at all of the past races the horse has run to see if they started in the same position or on one side or the other of the current position.

Some horses are able to perform roughly the same from every starting position, but many aren’t. You need to know this when you’re handicapping a race.

3 – Does Pedigree Matter?

I used to spend a lot of time looking at the pedigree of horses in the races I was handicapping. Now I rarely consider pedigree, unless I’m betting on the first race a horse is entered. And the way I handicap, I rarely bet on races filled with first start horses.

Does this mean that I don’t think pedigree matters?

Racing Horse Without a Rider

Pedigree does matter to some degree, but the truth is that some horses with a great pedigree aren’t successful race horses, and some horse that don’t have a great pedigree turn out to be good race horses.

I rely on past performance a great deal more than pedigree, but I still know the pedigree of the horses at the tracks where I bet most of the time. It doesn’t come into play most of the time when I’m handicapping a race, but I do consider it in some close situations to break a tie.

4 – What about Jockeys?

The fact is that handicapping races and jockeys is tough. Jockeys do matter, but they don’t matter as much as the horse.

Most horse bettors bet on races at the same track or small group of tracks. This is a good idea for many reasons. One reason it’s a good idea is because you can learn about the jockeys. Which ones have better records than others and which ones seem to be hot right now are two things you can track.

But you have to be careful, because the best jockey at the track riding a bad horse can only do so much. The jockey isn’t going to make a horse great, but a good jockey doesn’t do anything to hinder a great horse.

You need to consider the jockeys when you’re handicapping a race, but you have to consider some other things before using the jockeys to make small adjustments.

5 – Betting Favorites

Betting favorites can be a problem because the favorites are only favorites because of the bettors. Just because a horse is the favorite doesn’t mean that it has the best chance to win.

The other problem with betting on favorites is the return is lower. I do bet on the favorite when my handicapping shows that they’re the best horse, but I make more money when I find horses that should win that doesn’t agree with the odds.

You have to bet the horses that your handicapping system shows are the best. And if you’re not making money, you need to improve your handicapping system.

6 – Betting Long Shots

On the other side of this is betting on long shots. Some gamblers bet on long shots because they win so much when a long shot wins. But the problem is that most long shots have steep odds because they’re not going to win.

You need to have a good reason to bet on a long shot. If you’re handicapping shows they’re better than the odds, it might be worth making a show bet or an across the board bet on one, but don’t bet on them just because of the odds.

7 – Speed – Yes and No

A great deal of handicapping comes down to speed. The horse that runs the fastest time in a race wins the race, but when you’re looking at past results you can’t just use speed.

So speed is an important factor, but it’s not the only factor. And when you look at speed, you need to look at more than just overall speed.

You need to look at speed to the first turn, speed on the stretch, and just about any other speed numbers you can get.

You need to use all of the other things listed on this page in addition to speed when you’re handicapping horse races. Speed is the most important factor most of the time, but if you use it as the only factor you’re not going to win in the long run.

8 – The Best Trainers

I talked about jockeys in an earlier section, and trainers are somewhat like jockeys. The top trainers have a good track record for a reason. But most trainers can do what needs to be done when they get a good horse.

I know the track record of the trainers at the tracks where I bet most of the time, and I do consider them when I’m handicapping. But the horse and the past performance of the horse are still more important than the trainer.

9 – Distance in Prior Races Traps

One mistake that many horse bettors make is not looking at different race lengths in prior races. Just because a horse did well at one length doesn’t mean the horse is going to do the same at a different distance.

This is a costly trap you have to avoid. The only way to use results from previous races at a different length is if you watched the race and saw how the horse did. For example, a horse racing in a shorter race that was leading until the end of the previous race might be a good bet.

Two Horses in a Race

You have to be very careful when a horse has success on a shorter track and is now racing a longer distance. I used to lose a lot of money on these horses until I learned that these were bad bets.

I used to feel like I had to handicap every race and make bets on every race on the program. But now I look for the races that offer the best options for the way I handicap races. I might only bet on four or five races on the program, because the other ones have too many variable sand unknowns. A race with horses with mixed former distances is one I usually avoid.


Betting on horses is somewhat similar to betting on anything else. You have to get a lot of small things right to have a chance to win. You have to analyze everything from the track to the weather to the jockey and the trainer. And if you get one thing wrong it can cost you money.

You just learned nine facts about betting on horses to help make sure you get everything right. Use these facts to learn how to effectively handicap horse races, and improve your methods and systems. Keep working on your horse race handicapping until you have a winning system in place.