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Homeracing

The best way to decide and create a win bet

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

January 10th, 2023

The win bet is the purest way to wager on a horse race. All you have to do is pick the winning horse.

Sounds simple, right? The win bet is truly the simplest wager in horse racing. But deciding which horse to bet can quickly grow complicated.

How do win bets work?

In North America, wagering on horse racing is primarily parimutuel in nature, which means all bets are pooled together and the winners split the pool (minus takeout). If only a few people bet on the winning horse, that horse is a longshot (starting at long odds of 20-1, 30-1, 43-1, etc.), and winning bettors each receive a large share of the pool.

In contrast, the horse that attracts the most betting support is the favorite (starting at short odds of 1-2, 6-5, 5-2, etc.), and if the favorite wins, the many winning bettors each receive a small share of the pool.

How to choose a win bet

There are a couple of ways to choose a viable win bet. The first is to handicap the race, decide which horse you believe is most likely to win, and bet on that horse without regard to the odds. If you’re a skilled handicapper and a high percentage of your selections visit the winner’s circle (say, 40% or more), this can be a profitable strategy. But picking 40% winners is easier said than done.

A better strategy is to take the odds into consideration, which—at the most sophisticated level—requires creating a fair odds line. If you believe your top choice has a 33% chance at winning a race, this means if the race were run three times, you would expect the horse to lose twice and win once. That’s two losses to one win, or 2-1. The horse you’ve chosen is worth a win bet at odds of 2-1 or higher. If the odds are lower than 2-1, the potential payoff isn’t high enough to warrant the risk.

How to place a win bet

Placing a win bet on TwinSpires is easy. Simply select “Win” from the list of wagering options, choose the horse and dollar amount you wish to bet, and submit your wager. If you plan your choices diligently, you can enjoy profitable win bets in the long run.

Good luck!

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