The racetrack is a carnival of sights, sounds, and action. It is filled with the loud voices of people placing bets and cheering for their horses to win. Your first visit to the racetrack will likely be overwhelming. This betting tutorial for live horseracing is designed to help you navigate the track environment and have a great time while Horse Betting.
Admission to the Racetrack
A racetrack typically consists of three separate areas. The first of these is the racetrack itself. It can be anywhere from 1 mile to 1 ½ miles or more in circumference. The second area is the backside. This is where all the barns are built and the horses are stabled while not racing. Finally, there is the building and outside area where patrons gather to watch the races. This is the area we are going to concern ourselves with in this article.
There are several parts of the racetrack building. There is usually a grandstand and a clubhouse. The grandstand is usually general admission. The clubhouse can require a ticket for entry and some tracks even have Turf Clubs that are by invitation only. Where you choose to sit while the races are in progress is a matter of preference.
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The grandstand is usually open air seating. Some tracks, though, have indoor grandstands that are air conditioned. These types have a large glass front that allow you to observe the track below while the races are in progress. If you plan on sitting in an outdoor grandstand, always be prepared to consider the weather. It can be hot, cold, and even wet when it rains.
Many tracks these days do not charge admission for entry to the grandstand except on special days when big races are ran. Churchill Downs, Pimlico, and Belmont Park are higher class tracks that can charge admission on any given race day. It should not cost more than $10 for general admission to the track on most racing days, and many times it will be much less or free.
If you opt to sit in the clubhouse the price of admission will be higher. You will also have a better view of the racetrack, beverage service, and sometimes waiters who will take your food order.
Buying a Program or Racing Form
Throughout the racetrack there are stands which sell programs and the Daily Racing Form. These stands are strategically placed in various areas of the track. You should at the very least purchase a program. A program lists all of the races being conducted that day and also has limited past performance information on the horses that will be competing.
If you are really serious about your handicapping, the Daily Racing Form is your best option. The Daily Racing Form is a tabloid-sized newspaper that has detailed past performances on each race and also provides news relevant to the horses, trainers, and jockeys that are competing.
Having either a program or a racing form is a MUST if you want to win at the races. The track only announces brief information about the horses in a race. You can expect to spend about $5 for a program or a racing form.
Placing a Bet
There are two ways to place a bet at a live racetrack. You can either use an automated machine or you can use a live teller. The two methods are vastly different.
When you use an automated teller, you begin by inserting money into the machine. It only takes bills. The machine also does not make change. Instead, it will return the unused funds you have on a voucher which may then be inserted again into the machine to make another bet. When you win, you can insert your winning ticket into the machine and receive your winnings on a voucher. The voucher can then be taken up to the window and exchanged for cash at any time.
The automatic teller machine has a touch screen. The screen will allow you to select which race you wish to bet, how much you would like to spend, and the horse you would like to bet on. It will also permit you to make exotic bets like exactas and trifectas. If you are uncomfortable working the automatic teller machine, there are always people working the area who will be kind enough to help you make your bets.
Using a live teller has a different and very specific protocol. With a live teller you walk up to the window and state clearly the bet you wish to make in a precise manner. Here are some examples:
- “Race 5. $2 to win on number four.”
- “Race 3. $2 exacta box on 2, 4, and 6.
- “Race 6. $2 Daily Double. 3 and 5.”
Essentially, every bet is placed by stating the number of the race, the amount and type of bet, and the number of the horse. It is important that you practice and learn the proper protocol for placing bets at the window. The reason for this is that race tellers at the track must handle a high volume of bets in a short period of time. They will tend to get frustrated if you do not follow the proper formula.
Most racetracks have pamphlets available which will tell you how to call out the bet in the preferred fashion. It will only take you a short period of time to master the way bets are placed.
Once your bet is placed, you will be given a ticket. Be sure to hold on to that ticket. It is the only proof you have that you made the bet. Tickets do not have your name on them. They are a bearer instrument. The ticket can be cashed by anyone who holds it.
Collecting Your Winnings!
The fun part of any racing day is cashing a ticket on a winning horse. That part is very simple. You just walk up to the betting window and present your ticket to the cashier. The cashier will insert the ticket into a machine to verify that it is a winner and will then present you with your cash!
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