Beginner’s Bet of the Week: The Win-Place Bet

Fans at Belmont Park take a look through the program for a winner. (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.

The fourth week of Belmont Fall horse racing comes with new opportunities to get ready for Breeders’ Cup 2021! As usual, enjoy a special promotion for new NYRA Bets users and apply promo code MATCH200 for up to a $200 first-deposit match. But even better, this weekend win and you’re in with the NYRA Bets Breeders’ Cup Challenge Pick 6 contest over at Presented by “America’s Day at the Races,” running on FS2 every afternoon now through Sunday where the team will provide live coverage of Belmont Park and Churchill Downs all fall!

This week, we’ll discuss a combination of two wagers previously featured in the column: the win-place bet. The bet enables horseplayers to take a shot at a larger payoff, while allowing for a small amount of backup.

As mentioned in prior editions, the goal of a place bet is to pick a horse that will finish first or second in a race, while the purpose of a win bet is to pick the winner. Playing a win-place bet is the equivalent of placing two separate wagers on a horse: one wager to win, the other one to place. If your horse wins, you’ll cash both the win and place ticket. If your horse comes in second, you’ll only cash the place ticket. Because the minimum bet for both win and place is $1, the effective minimum wager for a win-place bet is $2.

Win-place bets provide some extra opportunity but come with an element of risk. If your horse comes in second and pays less than even-money to place, you’ll lose money. You won’t cash the win ticket, and the place return won’t be enough to make up the difference. As such, there isn’t much point in betting heavy favorites to win and place.

The key to success when playing win-place bets is to find value. When you bet on a horse to win and place, you should go in with the assurance that even if they finish second, you’ll still make a profit. If they win, all the better.

The strategy for win-place betting should be very similar to place betting. If you can find a horse who you think will be a great price, by betting them to win and place you put yourself in a position to get the reward of a win bet on a solid value play, while also getting some insurance.

Saturday’s Belmont Park Win-Place Bet

Race 8, #11 Neuro: The eighth race on Saturday’s program is a first-level allowance race for New York-breds at three-quarters of a mile on the grass. In races like this, where many of the horses have only won once, bettors use what’s called the “lightbulb” angle. Sometimes, when a horse who has struggled to win finally gets a victory, the metaphorical lightbulb goes on and their form becomes much-improved.

Neuro is a textbook example of the lightbulb angle. It took him 14 tries to break his maiden, doing so three races back with a determined closing rally at Saratoga. He’s lost his first two tries at this level but has run big races both times, losing by less than a length both times while storming from the back of the pack. He’s the archetype of a good win-place bet: he has the credentials to win this race, and even if he doesn’t he should come close and at least finish second. In a competitive race like this, the price should be right.

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