The sport of horse racing is one of the most popular to bet on online with large amounts wagered on it every year.
The reason for this is that horse racing appeals to a wide array of punters with a large number of markets and bet types available.
There rarely goes a day when there aren’t several meetings on, while major festivals, such as the Breeders’ Cup, attract an even higher number of punters which brings an inflated betting turnover total.
As well as the fact there are so many races to get involved so regularly, the sport of horse racing also has many bet types meaning punters can get involved in different markets which, in some instances, can involve betting on a variety of factors.
Whether it be the more well-known bets, such as win or each-way, or betting on how far a horse will win by, there are loads of markets and bets for people to get involved in.
Online betting has very much become the norm in recent years with bettors now having the ability to place bets across a variety of different sports or venues all from one place.
For events like the Breeders’ Cup, this has become essential because the majority of punters betting on these meetings won’t be there in person, meaning the ability to bet online is often the only option.
Online gambling is by far the most commonly used form of horse betting these days, with activity at betting shops and on-course significantly lower than it used to be.
The Breeders’ Cup is one of the most well-known meetings on the racing calendar. It began in 1984 and until 2006 was a single-day event.
But as popularity for the meeting has grown, so has the number of races with the extravaganza in America now expanded to two days.
Bar the 1996 renewal, which took place at Woodbine in Canada, the Breeders’ Cup has always been staged in the USA, with several tracks playing host.
In 2019, Santa Anita hosted the event for a record 10th time, while Churchill Downs has hosted it nine times. Belmont Park, Keeneland, and Del Mar are among the others that have staged the Breeders’ Cup.
One of the notable things about the Breeders’ Cup is the huge prize money on offer. In fact, it is one of the richest two days in sport, with $31million paid out, including a purse of $6million for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Such huge sums of money are why horses and jockeys from all over the world take part in the event. It is commonplace in the big races to find horses trained abroad, from leading racing territories like England, Ireland, and France.
Over the two days of racing, there are 14 races with an incredible 13 of those being Grade 1s. The first day, which features four Group 1s, is solely focused on the juveniles meaning all the horses running in the big races are two years of age.
As such, these races are run with a view to next season and whether they might have prospects of challenging for the big races in open company.
The second day is for horses aged three or older and features six Grade 1s all of which are of varying distances.
The Breeders’ Cup Classic, run on the dirt, is the most prestigious and wealthy race on the second day, while foreign raiders have had plenty of success in the Breeders’ Cup Turf with Tarnawa’s win last year following the likes of Enable (2018), Talismanic (2017) and Highland Reel (2016) in tasting victory in the 1m4f contest.
From a betting perspective, the Breeders’ Cup is a big one. It falls at a nice time for punters in the UK, as it comes at the end of the Flat season.
Given its heritage all over the world, bettors from a wide range of jurisdictions are likely to get involved too.
The Breeders’ Cup is synonymous with famous winners down the years and you only have to look back to last year for a few prime examples.
On a golden few days for the UK and Irish-trained horses, four overseas raiders managed to get their head in front on American soil.
Aidan O’Brien’s Order Of Australia was a surprise winner of the FanDuel Mile as were Audarya in the Filly & Mare Turf and Glass Slippers in the Turf Sprint, while Tarnawa justified strong market support to land the Longines Turf.
Another notable winner at the Breeders’ Cup was superstar mare Enable’s victory in the 2018 Longines Turf. John Gosden’s mare didn’t really need to prove herself given she had conquered all before her already, but she was still sent to America in search of further Group 1 success.
And, in typical Enable style, she got the job done beating another mare, Magical, in a thrilling battle.
Aidan O’Brien is no stranger to Breeders’ Cup winners having trained 13 in his career, but there is probably not one that gave him more satisfaction than Highland Reel’s win in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Turf.
Under Seamie Heffernan, he led from start to finish and never looked like losing in a fabulous performance.
As mentioned, there are many different types of bets on horse racing. When deciding to bet on a horse it is important to note this as it can occur that a horse doesn’t need to win for you to make money.
The most common bet is a straight, or win, bet which is when you are putting money on something to happen. So, in the case of horse racing, you are betting on a horse to win the specific race, or ‘on the nose’ as is commonly referred to.
A slight variation of a straight is an each-way bet. This is where you are betting on a horse in both the win and place markets. This is a good bet for when there are a lot of horses running in a race because the chance of finding a winner is less and the odds reflect this.
As such, you can quite often win money even if your selection doesn’t actually win the race. Bookies often offer a huge number of places on races with some firms paying out on the first 10 horses home if there are monster fields, so there is plenty of scope for each-way punters.
Another common wager type is an exacta. This requires you to pick the first and second-placed horses in a race. This can be a straight exacta which is the 1-2 in the correct order, or a reverse exacta which is where it doesn’t matter which order the selected horses finish in.
The final commonly-used bet type is a trifecta. The premise of this is to back the three horses that finish first, second and third in a selected race. This is obviously very tricky so the payouts for punters are normally appealing. Punters can also play a combination trifecta, where you have to select the first three homes in any order.
At big meetings like the Breeders’ Cup, bookmakers may offer odds on the top trainer or top jockey markets too. This basically means you are backing the trainer or jockey who you think will train or ride the most winners over the entire Breeders’ Cup meeting.
This appeals to plenty because it gives you a stake in a lot of races without losing if one horse is beaten.
Finding winners at the biggest meetings is never easy and the Breeders’ Cup is no different.
With such good prize money on offer, trainers are now sending their very best horses to run in America making the racing very competitive with the majority of runners in each contest having legitimate claims of winning it.
Therefore, it’s a meeting for which studying the ‘form’ is key. This is essentially looking back through a horse’s career results, notably their most recent few, and seeing how they have got on.
It’s not an exact science and there are occasions when a horse that is totally ‘out of form’ roars back ‘into form’ and wins out of the blue, but more often than not, it’s a wise move to look at horses that have been running well.
There are, of course, many factors to consider when reading the form, such as ground, distance, and who is riding the horse, but the main aim is to try and establish the horse’s ability and well-being versus the rest of the field.
Another important factor to consider in your betting strategy is the ground. For many, the ground is one of the biggest things they consider when choosing who to back in a horse race.
This is because some horses thrive when the ground is dry (known as good, quick, or fast ground), while others prefer it when the ground has been softened by the rain (known as soft, heavy, or slow ground).
Some horses are said to ‘go on any ground’ meaning they are flexible on the surface they run on, but others are very ground-dependent and really struggle if they don’t have their optimum conditions.
The best way to find this out is to look back through a horse’s past performances where the ground description will be displayed.
Another way to check a horse’s ability to handle a certain type of ground is to check its breeding and whether the mare (its mother) or sire (its father) were successful on it.
If a horse has yet to run on, for example, quick ground, there is no reason to suggest it won’t handle it, but in the first instance, it’s probably safest not to back it and see how it fares. This method should prove prudent moving forwards.
In the case of the Breeders’ Cup, the ground is more often than not on the fast side given the hot weather that many of the racecourses have.
For horses from other countries, it is often some of the fastest ground they will encounter in their entire careers and therefore some really struggle in acclimatising to it. However, as shown by last year’s results, some thrive on the quick surface.
It is also important to note that not all races at the Breeders’ Cup are run on turf. Some, such as the Breeders’ Cup Classic, are run on dirt which is a synthetic surface used in many racing jurisdictions around the world.
A significant number of races in America are run on the dirt and this often means that American-trained horses are at a significant advantage in races at the Breeders’ Cup which are run on the dirt.
As such, it’s common practice that the fields for races like the Breeders’ Cup Classic are full of American horses, with horses trained in other countries sticking to the races run on the turf.
All tracks in America are left-handed and the vast majority of races are run around a bend – a factor that is quite unique. In many other jurisdictions, races are run in a straight line, but in America this is uncommon.
This is quite unique especially in the shorter sprint races and it often throws some unexpected results. With this in mind, it’s often a prudent strategy to select a horse with a well-known jockey, who has prior knowledge of the track.
This is because they are well-versed in the best place to be on the track and whether or not they should have their ride up at the front from the off or further back with the aim of pouncing late.
American Mike Smith, known as ‘Big Money Mike’ is the winning-most jockey with 26 Breeders’ Cup victories, while legendary Italian Frankie Dettori has 14 to his name and they are two of the select few who punters often look for when backing a horse.