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James Fuller

Horse racing and betting have long held an association. While wagers are still placed at tracks across the United States, the majority of horse racing betting takes place online. Bettors in the UK have an increasing number of legal and reliable bookmakers to choose from. Whether you are looking to back the favorite in the Kentucky Derby or an underdog at Churchill Downs, there has never been a better time to start betting on horse racing. 

On this page, we will outline the best horse racing betting sites. We will also offer our expert horse racing tips and explain the most common horse racing betting terms. So, if you can’t get enough of the thrill of racing and are looking to back the leading runners and riders from across the globe, be sure to keep reading!

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How We Rank the Best Horse Racing Betting Sites

With an increasing number of horse racing betting sites being available to punters in the US, deciding which to sign up at can be difficult. However, fear not! Our experts have tested all available options. So, bettors can rest assured that all recommended operators score highly in a number of areas. When reviewing betting sites, we take into consideration the following points:

  • Safety – While we cannot guarantee that our recommended sites are legal in your state, we can confirm that they are all secure and reliable. A host of safety features are in play, helping to keep your personal and payment details secure at all times. All payments are fully encrypted, while bets cannot be placed without the required login details. 
  • Lines – When it comes to online betting on horsese, a host of different options should be available. It is not simply wagering on the winner of a specific race that bettors are looking for. Win, place, exacta and trifecta are some of the bet types available at our recommended sites. 
  • Race Coverage – Meetings from across the US are available to bet on. However, there are also races from a host of other countries. Bets can be placed on meetings from the UK, France, Australia, South Africa and more. As a result, bettors are never short of options.
  • Odds – Betting should only be carried out if the odds are fair. Prices will vary between operators, with each entrant being given a starting price. Those with a good knowledge of the sport will be able to find good value regularly. Available in an American format, odds are calculated based on age, weight, form and conditions. Our top ranked operators regularly offer the best odds online.
  • Promos – New customers signing up at US horse racing betting sites are likely to be welcomed by a bonus. Meanwhile, ongoing promotions are also available to customers. Such promotions include free bets, enhanced winnings and price boosts. All offers will come with terms and conditions. So, be sure to take a look at the small print before signing up and wagering. Our recommended  sites offer fair and realistic promos.
  • Mobile – Horse racing markets should also be accessible via mobile devices. Whether it be a smartphone or tablet, most operators understand the importance of mobile betting today. This is demonstrated by the number of horse racing betting apps available to players in the US. For times when an iOS or Android app is not available, mobile browsers can be used instead. 
  • Support – The quality and overall performance of our top ranked sites means that help will not be required often. However, agents are still on hand to answer questions and deal with technical issues. Support is generally available via telephone, email and live chat. Some brands are also active on popular social media platforms. Bettors are also likely to find detailed FAQ pages.
  • Payments – Before bets can be placed, funds must be deposited. A good number of payment methods are available to bettors. Whether it be a credit card, e-wallet or bank wire, deposits and payouts will ideally be processed quickly and without charge. Operators who make bettors wait to receive winnings are unlikely to be too popular. 
  • Features – Horse racing betting online can be enhanced by the additional features on offer. Live streaming is one of the most popular. With such a service, customers can watch horse races as they take place. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing your pick come home ahead of the rest of the field. Elsewhere, cash out and horse racing betting tips are other useful features to look out for.

Horse Racing Bet Types

As we have already mentioned, betting on horse races means so much more than just picking the winner of a particular meeting. Ante post and pre-race lines are the most common, with live horse racing betting not being available. Those signing up at our top ranked sites are likely to come across the following types of horse racing bets and betting options:

Win – With this bet type, your pick must win the race for returns to be received. Only those backing the winning horse will be successful.

Place – Here, your pick must finish in a placed position. This generally means first or second. 

Show – Bettors must successfully back a horse to finish in the top 3 positions.

Exacta – This bet is slightly more complicated. Bettors must successfully wager on first and second, as well as the order in which they come home.

Trifecta – Similar to an exacta, bettors must instead bet on the top three finishers, as well as the correct sequence.

Superfecta – Coming with significant odds in most cases, customers must bet on the first four finishers, with the order also having to be correct for your bet to win.

Parlay – Here, bettors can bet on a number of different outcomes within the same bet. Add multiple picks to your bet slip and select the relevant option. All selections must win for your bet to be successful. Many will back runners in consecutive races with such a horse racing bet.

Best Horse Racing Betting Odds

We have already outlined the importance of horse racing betting odds. While some bettors are automatically drawn to the welcome bonus on offer or the number of daily races, odds are never to be overlooked. Even the smallest difference in price can significantly impact your potential returns. Each race entrant and possible outcome will be given a pre-race price. Unlike other sports betting events, live odds are not available, given the nature of horse racing. So, where can customers find the best odds in the US? We recommend the following sites, with such operators regularly offering the most attractive prices.

Racing Betting Terms Explained

Those new to horse racing may well find some of the terminology strange. It certainly takes time to get used to. However, as always, we at Safebettingsites.com are here to save you the hard work. With that being said, the following are among the key terms to look out for at horse racing bookies:

All Weather Racing – A race that is held on an artificial surface.

Ante Post – Refers to bets placed on races well in advance of race day. Better odds are often available to those placing such bets. However, punters risk their pick not even running on the day itself.

Banker – The runner that is odds on to win a race. Likely to come with short odds. 

Blanket Finish – Where the finishers are so close that you can “throw a blanket” over them. Also known as a photo finish.

Correct Weight – Runners that are allocated a specific weight. This will be checked both before and after races.

Enclosure – The area in which horses and jockeys meet before and after races.

Favorite – The favorite to win the race. This runner will be given the shortest odds out of the entire field.

Firm – When the condition of the track is resilient, allowing for a fast run.

Furlong – The equivalent of 660 feet or 200 meters.

Gate – The position in which starters begin races from.

Handicap – A race featuring runners of different weights. This is carried out in order to level the playing field for those involved. Handicapping is very popular.

Juvenile – A horse aged two. 

Race card – Information surrounding a particular day or meeting. Also known as a racebook in some cases.

Stud – A male horse.

Winning Post – The point at which a race finishes.

Online vs. Offline Horse Racing Betting

Nothing quite beats the buzz of placing a bet at the track itself. However, many prefer wagering online, due to the benefits in which this method brings. When weighing up the two options, it is important to look at the following pros and cons:


  • Accessibility – In terms of online betting, backing horses is very convenient. There is no need to be at the track yourself. You can view all available races and lines, before staking on your favorite.
  • Coverage – When operating online, you can wager on meetings from around the world. Whether it be in the US, Europe, Asia or elsewhere, leading bookmakers cover a huge number of races.
  • Promos – Unlike with in-person betting, online wagering allows bettors to take advantage of promotions and bonuses. These can be very rewarding, only making online betting all the more appealing. A daily double or place bets, exotic bets are some of the types of bets that could be boosted.
  • Features – Betting customers can now take advantage of a range of features surrounding horse racing. Live streaming services allow bettors to watch their picks as they race. Meanwhile, cash out can be used to settle bets before their completion. Such options are not available at the track.


  • Responsible Gambling – It is easy to get carried away when betting online. While bookmakers do their best to ensure that bets are placed responsibly, many will try to chase their losses or go above their budget. The convenience of online betting may put some at risk.
  • Winnings – It may take a few days to get your hands on winnings made. Depending on the payment method, it could well take longer to receive payouts than when operating in person.
  • Social – Many attend horse races for the excitement, as well as the chance to mix with other fans of the sport. This is something that cannot be replicated online.

Most Popular Horse Racing Events to Bet on in the US

While races from around the world can be bet on, those looking to back runners from US meetings should keep an eye out for the following events:

Kentucky Derby 

Arguably America’s most famous horse race, the Kentucky Derby takes place over 1 ¼ mile . The Grade 1 race takes place at Churchill Downs in Louisville. With $2 million in prize money up for grabs, the race features three-year-old thoroughbreds. Taking place in May annually, the Kentucky Derby is the final race of a two-week long horse racing festival. Millions of bets are placed on the race too, with Authentic having won in 2020. Check out our Kentucky Derby betting guide.

Preakness Stakes

The Derby is quickly followed by the Preakness States, a thoroughbred race held at Pimlico Racecourse in Baltimore. As the second race of the Triple Crown, entrants battle it out over a distance of 1 3/16 mile. The Grade 1 event is another leading race in the calendar, with Swiss Skydiver having won in 2020.

Belmont Stakes

The final race of the Triple Crown is the Belmont Stakes. Known as the “Test of the Champion”, the race is worth a total of $1.5 million in prize money. Ran over 1 ½ miles on a dirt track, 2 minutes 24 seconds is the record time, set back in 1973 by Secretariat. 

Breeders’ Cup Classic

Part of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, the Classic is a Grade 1 race for 3-year-old thoroughbreds. Held annually at different North American racetracks, the race is one of the richest in the world. Authentic won in 2020, handing him two of the three Triple Crown titles. The Breeders’ Cup Classic is held over 1 ¼ miles on dirt.

Horse Racing Live Streaming

As we have already mentioned, betting sites offering live streaming are likely to be very appealing to potential customers. While a qualifying bet is likely to be needed in order to gain access, the ability to bet on and watch races is hugely attractive. Many streams are accompanied by commentary and replays, adding to the user experience. For those looking for live streaming capabilities, we recommend checking out the following sites:

Horse Racing Betting Apps

Any betting operator worth its weight in gold must cater well for its mobile customers. This is why many brands now choose to develop dedicated betting apps. Available on iOS and Android devices in most cases, apps are free to download. They provide an efficient method of betting on races when on the go. In most cases, they also feature the same number of races and features as found on desktop platforms. It now comes as a surprise when horse racing betting operators do not offer an app. For those looking to bet using their smartphone or tablet, we recommend checking out the following apps:

How to Bet On Horse Racing: Horse Racing Betting Tips

Even horse racing fans with expert knowledge of the sport are not guaranteed to make money from bets. Horse racing tips are readily available too. However, even they cannot be certain of their predictions. So, in order to give yourself the best possible chance of success, follow these horse racing betting tips:

1. Shop Around

When looking to back a particular horse, be sure to take a look at the different odds available. There is nothing stopping you signing up at a host of betting sites. Doing so will ensure that you can always take advantage of the best prices.

2. Form

Before staking funds, be sure to look at the recent form of a potential pick. Some runners will go on winning streaks, while it is also common for horses to perform well at certain racecourses. Such information is readily available online, especially surrounding high profile meets.

3. Set a Budget

No matter your level of disposable income, be sure to set aside a small proportion for betting on horse racing. Stick to this budget, regardless of whether you are winning or losing. Those who go above their budget are likely to bet irresponsibly. 

4. Owners/Trainers

There is a reason as to why some owners and trainers dominate the world of horse racing. They have the experience and resources to produce the best runners, giving themselves a good chance of success come race day. So, be sure to learn who are the names to look out for.

5. Know When to Quit

For those with a good knowledge of horse racing, it is possible to go on a run of placing winning bets. However, successful bettors understand when to call it a day. Factor this into your strategy and quit when you have met your objectives.

Bottom line

With races taking place in the US daily, along with meetings from around the world, there has never been a better time to sign up with a leading US sportsbook in this area. Our recommended betting sites all cater well for US customers. With excellent race coverage, odds and additional features, backing your favorite runners and riders is hugely entertaining and potentially rewarding. 


Is online horse racing betting legal in the United States?

Betting on horses is legal in most US states. This is due to an exception from the gambling act passed back in 2006. This is in contrast to other sports betting markets, such as NFL and NBA, which must be carried out on licensed platforms.

Can I watch races live online?

Yes. Many horse races are now available to watch through live streaming services. A qualifying bet may be needed to gain access.

Can I claim a bonus when signing up at a horse racing betting site?

Most likely, yes. Each of our recommended operators offers some form of reward for signing up. While this should not be the only reason for registering, bonuses and free bets can certainly provide a good platform to build on.

Which are the most popular bet types surrounding horse racing?

Win, place and show bets are the most popular for horse racing punters. However, many also place parlays on a host of outcomes from different races.

What happens if my pick ends up not racing?

It depends on the betting site. Some will refund your stake. However, in other cases, it may be that you lose your wager immediately.


James Fuller

James Fuller is a sports journalist based in Bath, England. Specializing in sports and iGaming, he has worked for a variety of leading online publications in the past, having first created content for safebettingsites in 2020. James also has a degree in Sport & Leisure Management from Sheffield Hallam University. He also has a certificate in Football Communication & Digital Media from the Sports Business Institute in Barcelona, which James has used to help brands enhace their following and reputation on online platforms. With almost a decade of experience in sports writing to his name, James has received outstanding feedback from existing and former clients.