Beginner’s Bet of the Week: The Show Bet

Horses race on the turf course at Belmont Park earlier this year. (Eclipse Sportswire)

This week marks the beginning 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.

Get in on all of the action of Belmont Park opening weekend with NYRA Bets and a special promotion for new NYRA Bets users. Just click here and apply promo code MATCH200 for up to a $200 deposit match your first deposit. And don’t forget to tune into FS2 every afternoon now through Sunday where “America’s Day at the Races” will provide live coverage of Belmont Park and Churchill Downs all fall!

This week, we’ll spotlight the lowest-risk wager of them all, the show bet. The goal of a show bet is for your horse to finish first, second, or third. If you bet a horse to show, and they finish anywhere in the top three, you win your bet.

Show bets are a low-risk, low-reward wager. It’s not as difficult to pick a horse to finish in the top three as it is to pick one to win, so you have a much higher chance of winning a show bet than you do a win bet. The flip side is that the payoffs are not nearly as high. Although there are no “show odds” posted before a race like there are to win, a good rule of thumb is that a horse’s expected show payoff is 30-40% of their win payoff.

At Saratoga on Aug. 29, for example, the median win payoff was $13.05. If you had bet all 10 of those winners to show, however, the median return was $4.25.

No one will get rich betting to show, but it’s still a good wager for new bettors looking to cash a ticket and learn how to handicap races. Once you become more confident, you can explore other betting options that offer greater reward.

The best time to bet to show is when you think a mid-priced horse or a longshot has a chance to run well, but you’re not sure if they can win. By betting them to show, you’ll improve your chances of cashing and get a decent return relative to the risk taken.

Saturday’s Belmont Park Show Bet

Race 1, #1 Smokin’ T: The first race on the Saturday card is a maiden special weight race for 2-year-olds on the turf. Many of these horses do not have established form. In fact, some of them have not raced at all. In races like this, horses who have raced at least once generally have the advantage over their debuting rivals.

Smokin’ T has made one start in his career, a middling sixth-place finish in a dirt race at Colonial Downs in Virginia. He was the favorite in that race, suggesting that despite his lack of experience going in, bettors had confidence in his ability. Now, he makes his debut on turf for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, who wins 16% of the time with horses making their first turf start. He looks like he has the pedigree to excel on turf. His sire (father), War Front, has sired many top turf horses. His dam (mother), Wine Princess, has produced two winners on turf.

There’s a lot of horses in here who have shown glimmers of ability as well as first-time starters who are bound to take plenty of wagering action, but this is a good kind of race to take a shot on a horse who may fall through the cracks in the wagering. Even if one of the debut runners delivers a huge race, Smokin’ T should improve enough to get third and pay a decent price on a show bet.

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