Beginner’s Bet of the Week: The Win Bet

Fans at Belmont Park cheer home the horses in a race. (Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing)

This week marks the third 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.

Get in on all of the action of Belmont Park 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 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, Oct.2, Belmont Park Win Bet:

Race 7: #5, Hilliard: This is a starter allowance race going one mile on the grass. It drew a competitive field of 10. You should get decent win odds on pretty much every horse in here. If this race took place during the Saratoga meet, bettors would very likely be flocking toward Hilliard. His trainer, Mike Maker, had a dominant streak during the early part of the season and ended up in third place in the standings with 18 wins. Many of his wins came in grass races.

Hilliard was claimed two races back by Maker at Saratoga in late July. In that start against non-winners of two lifetime claimers, he closed ground while racing wide and finished third. Next out, he took a big step up in class and raced in the Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 5. He made a mild move in the stretch but flattened out late. Now, he returns to a more realistic level, in contrast to the stakes horses he saw last time, and gets the riding services of one of New York’s top jockeys, Irad Ortiz Jr. He’s been improving rapidly with every race, running a career-top Equibase Speed Figure in each of his last four races. In his most recent race, he peaked at a 98 and ran a 90 two races back. Both numbers are good enough to win this race. Although Maker has not been as successful lately, he’s still dangerous with horses on the grass. This one should rate near the pace and make a powerful move to the front.

newsletter sign-up

Stay up-to-date with the best from America's Best Racing!