8. How to Pick a Winner and Place a Bet
If you are looking for a more reliable way to pick a winner other than just going with your favorite horse name (which is common practice for the uninitiated) there are a few tips we learned on our tour. While watching the horses warm up, if you see one that looks promising, take note of the number and color of its saddle cloth. The color denotes the race number and the numeral denotes the post position, or where it will start the race. If a horse is wearing a blue saddle cloth with the number three for example, that means it will be the number three horse in the second race. Lower numbers usually have better odds of winning as they are always on the inner part of the track.
Eight horses per race run at Yonkers. If you don’t have the order of the colors memorized, they are on the track, at the bottom of the simulcast screen and noted in the race day program. This is another helpful tool in helping you place your bets. The program will show you information on every horse, including their odds of winning and past performances. Insiders got a special shout out in the program on our previous tour!
When it comes time to place a wager, you first need to figure out what type of bet you are making. The minimum bet is $2 and you can bet on a horse to win, place or show. If you bet for a horse to win, it has to come in first. If you bet on a horse to place, it has to come in first or second. If you bet on a horse to show, it must come in first, second or third in order for you to win some money.
If you are shooting for higher payouts, you can make the bet more specific by betting an exacta, trifecta or superfecta. For an exacta, you pick two horses and specify which one will finish first and which will finish second. In a trifecta wager, you pick the first three, and in a superfecta you pick the first four. You can also “box” these bets, which means the order won’t matter as long as the two, three, or four horses you chose all show. Watch out for how much you want to spend on that bet though, because boxing basically means you are making two, three or four separate wagers.
If you are going up to a teller to place your bet, be ready to say it in this order: the race number, bet amount, type of bet, and number of the horse. For more helpful tips, the raceway website has a guide to horse racing for beginners.