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How To Wager

About Pari-Mutuel Wagering

When you make a wager at a racetrack you are NOT betting against the "house" as with most casino games. Pari-mutuel wagering means "betting among ourselves." The odds are dynamic and are solely dependent upon how you, the participants, place your wagers. When you're at the track or a simulcast wagering facility, the track extracts a commission from all wagers made, and re-distributes the remaining funds (or wagering "pool") among the winners.

In fact, the racetrack has absolutely no interest in the outcome of a race. The track receives its commission per wager, similar to a stockbroker's compensation, no matter if a favorite or longshot wins. YOUR wagering determines the favorite and longshot odds, NOT racetrack management.

The How-To's of Wagering

At Del Mar (and its off-track wagering locations) the minimum straight win, place or show wager is $2. The final winning prices are all based on a $2 wager. For example, if you bet $10 to Win on Best Pal, and the Win price was $5.20, you would fill your pocket with a total of $26. The math looks like this:

[$10 multiplied by $5.20 Win divided by $2 minimum= $26.00].

Straight $2.00 Wagers

  • WIN - - You win if your horse finishes First. (On average over 30% of favorites Win.)
  • PLACE - - You win if your horse finishes First or Second. (On average over 45% of favorites Win or Place.)
  • SHOW - - You win if your horse finishes First, Second or Third. (On average over 60% of favorites Win, Place or Show.)

You may now watch video instruction by James Quinn on how to bet using the SAMs (touch-screen machines) and a teller. Click on an icon below to view:

Using the Sams
Using a Teller

Exotic Wagers

These wagers are generally more difficult to win than Straight Wagers and may require some advance handicapping. However, the potential payouts are significantly greater. (Not all racetracks offer every exotic wager. These are general guidelines, and different tracks offer slight variations.)

  • DAILY DOUBLE - To win you must pick the winners of two consecutive races. Wagers must be placed before the first of the two races. Minimum bet is $2.00.
  • PICK THREE - To win you must pick the winners of three consecutive races. Wagers must be placed before the first of the three races. Minimum bet is $1.00.
  • EXACTA - To win you must pick the first two horses to finish in exact order in a single race. Minimum bet $1.00.
  • TRIFECTA - To win you must pick the first three horses to finish in exact order in a single race with eight or more betting interests. Minimum bet is $1.00.
  • QUINELLA - To win you must pick the first two horses to finish in either order in a single race. (Easier than an Exacta, because either horse can finish first or second.) Minimum bet is $2.00.
  • SUPERFECTA - To win you must pick the first four horses in exact order of finish in a single race with eight or more betting interests. Minimum bet is $1.00.
  • PICK SIX - To win you must pick the winners of six consecutive races. Wagers must be placed before the first of the six races. (This is a super difficult wager, but the payouts can be very high!) Minimum bet is $2.00.
  • PLACE PICK ALL - You win a major payoff if you pick the winner or second-place finisher of the entire card (8, 9 or 10 races). If no ticket contains the winning combination for all races, the payoff will go to the ticket with the highest number of correct selections. Mimimum bet is $1.00.

Glossary of Common Racing Terms

Age - Every horse celebrates a birthday on January 1, regardless of the actual day of birth. Two-year-olds only race against other two-year-olds. Three-year-olds normally only compete among themselves during the first half of the year, and then begin to challenge older horses as they gain experience.

Handle - Amount of money wagered on a single race or a full day of racing.

Morning Line - A prediction by the Track Line Maker of what the final odds will be based on how the public wagers. Usually accurate, and helpful in determining the favorites.

Past Performance - A history of each horses' racing performance. How he/she ran, placed, the jockey, at what track, etc. So much information that many people, well, don't want to know.

Post Time - The time the horses are expected to reach the starting "post"; when a race begins.

Race Card - The schedule of races on a specific day.

Scratch - When a horse is withdrawn from a race in which it's scheduled to run. Depending upon the type of wager you've placed, you're entitled to either a refund or your interest will be automatically transferred to the betting favorite.

Simulcast Wagering - The option to watch and wager on the races live via television broadcast. If you are unable to enjoy racing at the track, attend any one of hundreds of simulcast wagering facilities nationwide that carry the Del Mar television broadcast, including California's own Southern and Northern California Off-Track Wagering network.

Glossary of Common Racing Terms

Derby Races - limited only to three-year-old horses. America's most famous Derby is run at a track in Kentucky. You may have heard of it...

Maiden Races - restricted to horses who have never won a race.

Claiming Races - horses compete while eligible to be bought or "claimed" by licensed owners for a stated claiming price. Competition tends to be equalized as a result of the stated claiming prices, and it establishes a built-in marketplace for race horses.

Allowance Races - generally for better quality horses (no "claiming" is allowed) in which all horses must meet specific entry conditions. The amount of weight a horse carries is set by the racing secretary in order to equalize the competition.

Stakes/Handicap Races - feature the best horses competing for the highest prize money. In handicap races, the racing secretary assigns a weight to each horse based on prior racing performance in order to equalize the competition.

Sources of Additional Information

Daily Racing Form - is a tabloid newspaper devoted exclusively to racing. It contains complete listings of past performances on every horse. For more information, the Daily Racing Form provides a detailed description of how to use the form complete with diagrams.