Wager your bet: Harness Racing 101


Wager your bet: Harness Racing 101

When you wager, you are not betting against the track but against everyone who is making that type of wager in a particular race. For example, if you bet a horse to win, your bet goes into the win pool. Based on how much is wagered on each horse to win, their odds will change accordingly. This is called pari-mutuel wagering, from the French term meaning “amongst ourselves.” In this method of wagering, the public is betting against each other, not against the racetrack. In effect, the track has no interest in the results of a race. The track simply deducts a percentage from each dollar wagered for payment of purses, state taxes, and expenses. The remainder of the pool (83% on win, place, and show bets) is returned proportionally to the winners.

Information is valuable – Since you are essentially betting against everyone else, the more educated you are in your wager, the better your chance of winning.

Traditional wagers


You win if your horse finishes first.


You win if your horse finishes first or second.


You win if your horse finishes first, second, or third.


Placing a wager on your horse to win, place, and show. A $2 bet “across the board” would be a $6 wager.

Exotic wagers


Picking two horses to finish first and second in exact order.


Picking three horses to finish first, second, and third in exact order.


Picking four horses to finish first, second, third, and fourth in exact order.


Picking the winners of two races that are designated Daily Double races.

Wagers must be placed before the running of the first of the two races.


Picking the winners of three races that are designated Racing Pick Three races. Wagers must be placed before the running of the first of the three races.

How to bet

When you visit a mutuel window, state the following information:

1. Name of track

2. Race number

3. Amount you wish to wager

4. Type of wager

5. Horse number

Example: “Scarborough Downs, seventh race, two dollars to win on number five.”

Novice bettors

For those not familiar with wagering, each teller line has a designated NOVICE WINDOW to help with how to read the program, placing a bet, and other racing questions. Pamphlets are available at every mutuel line to help the first time bettor. “Pick A Winner,” “The Harness Racing Guide” and “Harness Racing 101” are excellent resources for the novice handicapper. Simply ask for your copy. The key is to have fun!

Source: Scarborough Downs