Beginner’s Bet of the Week for Dec. 18: The Win Bet

A racing fan at Saratoga Race Course cheers home a winner in this file photo. (Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing)

This week marks the latest installment of a new series on America’s Best Racing, the Beginner’s Bet of the Week, sponsored by NYRA Bets. Each week, this blog will explore a new type of bet by explaining exactly what it is, how best to use that bet, and by putting the wager into practice in a race.

All the best December horse racing awaits at tracks like Santa Anita, Gulfstream Park, Aqueduct, and 300+ tracks. With NYRA Bets, new users can enjoy a $200 Sign-Up Deposit Match Bonus anytime. Just use promo code ABR200 and get in the action today! And be sure to tune into “America’s Day at the Races” running on FS2 every afternoon this weekend.

This week, we’ll discuss the most straightforward bet of all: the win bet. The basics of the bet are in the name: if the horse you bet on comes in first, you win. At NYRA tracks, the minimum wager on a win bet is $1.

The win bet is one of the few wagers where you can get a good idea of how much you’ll win before the race goes off. The big board in the infield, often known as the “tote board,” gives the current win odds of each horse, as do various TV monitors all over the track. The odds are updated based on how much money is wagered on each horse. If a horse has a lot of money wagered on them, their odds will go down. If they’re not taking that much play, their odds go up.

If a horse is on the board at 4-1, that means that you’ll receive $4 for every $1 you bet should they win. A horse at 5-2 will pay off roughly $2.50 to win for every $1 invested, while a 9-5 shot will get you back $1.80 for every $1 wagered.

A simple formula to determine how much money you would get back for a win bet it to multiply the amount wagered x your horses odds and then and back the initial amount wagered, which is returned to you. For example, if you bet $2 to win on a horse at 4-1 odds, you would win $10 ($2x4+$2=$10). If you bet $5 on a runner at 10-1 odds, you would get back $55 (5x10+5).

The win bet is best used when you find a horse you really like who will go off at a good price. Betting to win is all about finding value. If you find a horse who you think will go off at a higher price than they should, that’s a prime opportunity to place a win bet. Everyone has their own definition of value, but generally horses who go off at 1-1 or less, or “odds-on,” are not great win bets. There’s not much value to be found in getting back less than you wagered on your original proposition, and in the long run, you’d have to be correct at an exceptional rate to make money betting those kinds of horses.

Saturday’s Aqueduct Win Bet

The sixth race on Saturday at Aqueduct is the New York Stallion Series for New York-sired 2-year-old colts and geldings at seven furlongs.

My top pick in this race is #2 Bustin Pietre for trainer Bruce Levine and jockey Kendrick Carmouche. He broke his maiden in impressive style  in his career debut, leading from start to finish and drawing off to win by 5 ½ lengths. In the Notebook Stakes against New York-breds next out, he was well-beaten by Senbei, who was very impressive and may be a contender on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. Bustin Pietre still ran on well in the stretch and finished second, three-quarters of a length clear of third place. There doesn’t appear to be anyone here as good as Senbei, which will make Bustin Pietre’s job a bit easier. With a good post position and tactical speed, Bustin Pietre has a great chance to pick up his first stakes win.

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