Horse Betting in New York

As sports betting is becoming more of a major fixture of life in New York, we don’t want to forget about the existing types of gambling in the state. One type of wagering that is almost synonymous with New York is horse racing.

New York has featured horse racing longer than any other state. The English held a race in NY in 1665, not long after they defeated the Dutch at New Amsterdam.

With such a grand tradition of horse betting in New York, you can be sure that there are plenty of ways to wager on the Triple Crown, the Dubai World Cup and the Grand National. Below you will find the top resource for everything horse betting in New York. We have all the latest news, updates and information about betting the ponies in the Empire State.

Best sites for horse betting in NY

Is online horse betting legal in New York?

Online horse betting has been legal in New York for many years. According to New York State Gaming Commission rules, an “account wager may be made by the account holder in person, via telephonic device or by the internet or by communication through other electronic means.” In other words, if you have a legal account with a horse betting site in New York, it is perfectly acceptable to wager on it in whatever manner is most convenient to you.

The Empire State has since become one of the premier destinations for horse racing in the US. It houses more tracks than most other states and offers several prominent races, such as the Belmont Stakes, the Travers Stakes and the Whitney Handicap.

If you prefer to stay home, there are several horse betting sites that you can access through your computer or mobile device. Bettors can also place wagers remotely at off-track betting locations throughout the state.

There are also prominent New York lawmakers who want to tie online horse betting to online sports betting now that it’s launched in the Empire State. Sen. Joseph Addabbo has stated publicly that he would like for each of the nine sportsbook apps to integrate a horse betting function into their offerings for New Yorkers. Given that retail sportsbooks and racebooks often share the same real estate in casinos, it’s not a major leap to suggest the same arrangement for online companies – particularly in a state with as much horseracing history as New York.

One of the sportsbook apps coming to the Empire State is certain to fulfill Addabbo’s wishes, albeit unintentionally. BetMGM announced in May 2021 that it had reached a partnership with NYRA Bets, guaranteeing that BetMGM horse betting and parimutuel wagering is going to be part of MGM Resorts’ New York-facing offering, notwithstanding any of the other eight sportsbooks.

NYRA Bets is, of course, one of several prominent horse betting sites active in New York. Most of them can handle your simulcast wagers with an easy professionalism. However, there is no bigger or better site for you to use than FanDuel Racing.

FanDuel Racing has risen to prominence, allowing you to find options for betting on horse races both in New York and across the country. With over 200 tracks around the country and world, there are plenty of races to bet on using FanDuel Racing.

How to bet on horse racing online in New York

You can get started with the FanDuel Racing right now if you like. The FanDuel Racing horse betting is available via app and an optimized browser site.

The first thing to do is sign up to join FanDuel Racing. The best part: You don’t even need a promo code. Both Apple and Android device users will have the option of downloading an app to their phones or playing on the site itself.

Once you get to the site’s registration screen, you will need to fill out your personal information to establish your new account.

The sign-up bonus with FanDuel Racing and get a No Sweat Bet up to $20 back as a racing bonus if your first single-horse bet loses. All horse betting sites, including FanDuel Racing, offer several ways for you to put money into your account. Common deposit options include:

  • Debit/credit cards (Visa and Mastercard)
  • Check
  • E-check
  • FanDuel prepaid card (deposit only)
  • PayNearMe (deposit only)
  • PayPal
  • Wire transfer

Be aware that some of these options may come with a fee. However, there will usually be at least one way to deposit that is free. Most of these options are also available when you want to withdraw from your account. There are usually limits for both deposits and withdrawals, so make sure to check for those.

Once you’ve finished your deposit, you should be able to navigate the site easily. There are tabs for races, including the spotlighted “Race Of The Day,” as well as explainer tabs for how to understand the horse betting odds and what types of bets suit you best.

Types of online horse bets

If you’re still starting with online horse betting, however, it’s important to understand all the elements that you will experience. For the most part, horse race betting online is nearly identical to its real-life counterparts (especially OTB), but it’s best to walk through each type of wager and make sure we’re all on the same page.

The first thing to discuss, however, is the difference between straight wagers and exotic bets. You may see these terms floating around and not know what they mean, but the truth is quite simple. A straight wager is a horse bet that involves a single horse in a single race. Anytime you put additional horses, additional races or both into the bet, it becomes an exotic bet.

The only other bit of information to realize is that exotic bets almost invariably pay better and are more difficult to win than straight wagers. So, if it helps, you can think of straight wagers as simple bets, and exotic wagers as more complex ones.

The types of straight bets are:

  • Win — Your chosen horse must win the race.
  • Place — Your chosen horse must win the race or finish second.
  • Show — Your chosen horse must win the race, finish second or finish third.
  • Combinations — You can combine these three bets and get paid for any that your horse can secure. Combination straight bets include win/place, place/show and win/place/show.

Common types of exotic bets are as follows:

  • Exacta — You pick two horses to win and place in the race. You must pick the correct order for the bet to pay.
  • Quinella — An exacta bet, but without the order requirement. In other words, you pick two horses to win and place, but the order does not matter.
  • Trifecta — You pick three horses to win, place and show in the race. You must pick the correct order.
  • Superfecta — You pick four horses to win, place, show and finish fourth in the race. You must pick the correct order.
  • Double/Pick 3/Pick 4/Pick 6 — You pick the winning horse in multiple races. The only difference between these types of bets is the number of races that you must pick.

In addition to those types of wagers, there are also several exotic bet modifiers that you can use in both online and live horse betting. Choosing these elements will increase the price you must pay to place a wager, but they can also increase your chances of winning. They are:

  • Box — A box bet allows you to cover all the combinations of horses with one wager. So, for instance, in a trifecta box, it does not matter which order your three horses finish the race, so long as they are still first, second and third. A quinella is, in fact, an exacta box bet. Be aware, though, that you will have to pay for each possible combination to make this bet. As an example, a trifecta box bet is six times more expensive than a standard trifecta because there are six possible combinations of horses.
  • Key — A key bet calls for you to designate one horse as the winner of your exotic bet, then you pick multiple possibilities for the rest of the places. This bet is a decent option if there is one overwhelming favorite to win the race, but you want to bet multiple horses. The only downside is that everything falls apart if the key horse does not win.
  • Wheel — A wheel means that you are taking the entire field for one place in your exotic wager. So, for example, you might choose the win and place horses for a trifecta, but let the show position be a wheel. In that way, you win the bet if those first two selections are correct, regardless of what horse finishes third.
  • Partial — A partial, also known as a partial wheel, is any combination of horses in one of the above categories. The bottom line is that you can bet any race any way you like, even if it is complex and has many moving parts. You might pick two horses to win, three to place and four to show in a partial trifecta. Needless to say, these bets can get quite expensive and difficult to calculate. However, if you want to pick the horses in some sort of arcane order, every online horse betting site, OTB facility and racetrack will be more than happy to accommodate you.

Odds for horse betting

There are many ways to express the odds for a gambling situation. In many areas of Europe, sportsbooks use decimal odds to communicate the total payout for a wager of a single unit of currency. American odds, meanwhile, depict the payout ratios for both the favorite and the underdog. However, for horse racing betting in the US, the preferred format remains fractional odds. Every horse in each race will have fractional odds next to their names.

The rule for fractional odds is that the lower the fraction, the better the chance that the horse will win. A horse running as a 2/1 underdog is much more likely to succeed than a horse at 20/1, for instance. It is even possible to see fractional odds less than 1. Though rare, a horse running at 1/2 or 1/3 would be quite the favorite, indeed. As a side note, you may see these odds written either as a fraction (5/1) or with a colon between the two numbers (5:1). Both methods are correct and are interchangeable.

Like any odds, the odds for each horse move and change as post time approaches. As more bettors wager or do not wager on the various options, the betting site or racetrack will adjust the offered probabilities.

Most people are decently familiar with fractional odds, so it’s best not to belabor the explanation. However, the important thing to bear in mind is that fractional odds are always formatted as (event won’t happen)/(event will happen). In other words, if we ran the same race three times and one horse was listed at 2/1, we’d expect that horse to win once and lose twice.

What is pari-mutuel betting?

You may hear the term “pari-mutuel betting” from time to time if you are placing horse racing wagers. Pari-mutuel betting is simply any type of betting where all the bets on an event form a pool, the taxes and house share are removed, and the winners divide the remainder. Since this type of system is standard for horse racing, the term is sometimes used interchangeably (and somewhat inaccurately) to describe only horse racing. However, this kind of system does pop up in other forms of gambling.

What are the main types of horse races?

There are three types of horse racing that you may encounter as you bet in New York. These types of races can sometimes exist at the same track, but they often do not overlap. At the very least, it’s rare that they would occur on the same day.

The first type is quarter horse racing. Quarter horses are the sprinters of the horse world. These horses derive their name, in fact, from the length of track that they usually run — one quarter of a mile.

Thoroughbred racing involves horses that are better at long distances. The famed Triple Crown of horse racing is decided by three thoroughbred races — the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and New York’s own Belmont Stakes. These races are usually a mile or more and require horses with a taller and leaner frame. Most world-famous horses tend to be thoroughbreds.

Finally, harness racing involves horses that pull a small, two-wheeled cart and driver behind them. These races are not the breakneck affairs that the other two races are. Instead, horses move at a quick trot and never gallop.

Tips for betting on horse races

If you are new to horse betting, your first experience might seem a bit overwhelming. The last thing you want to do is throw down your money and have no idea if you’ve made good bets. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to make your horse betting experience better and, hopefully, more profitable.

  1. Use the available information. Horse betting sites like FanDuel Racing, OTB locations and racetracks each have programs and other informational aids that can give you valuable insight about that evening’s races. They may cost a couple of dollars, but they will likely pay for themselves, as you can find the recent history of the horses, the performance of the jockeys, and pertinent details about the track conditions themselves AND how the horses have performed in similar situations. You have to do your homework if you want to do well on the test.
  2. Keep it simple. Exotic bets are interesting, to be sure. They have many moving parts to them, and they usually come with larger payouts than a straight bet. However, at least in the early stages of your handicapping career, you should probably stick to win, place, show or combination bets. It’s hard enough to forecast how one horse will do, let alone several of them.
  3. Watch your bankroll. Make sure that you’re careful to wager money that you don’t need and can afford to lose. There should never be anything riding on the outcome of a horse race aside from winning or losing a few bucks. To that end, be careful about making multiple bets in rapid succession, particularly if they are exotic. The costs can add up quickly, and the last thing to do is get carried away and overspend.
  4. Don’t fall in love with long shots. There’s a reason that some horses are the favorites and others are long shots. Oddsmakers set the lines for a living, so most favorites will at least be in contention for the top spot. Although long shots do win sometimes, you’ll have better and more consistent positive results if you make the majority of your wagers on the top horse(s) in the field.
  5. Look for vulnerabilities in the favorite’s armor. On the other hand, it’s awfully hard to predict how a horse race will go. The favorite does not always win. Issues to examine might be his or her recent performances, previous races with the same jockey or past performances at the same track, in the same conditions and for the same race length.

None of these tips are meant to be the end of your learning journey with horse betting. For that matter, none of them are a guarantee that you will win the next time you bet the ponies. However, they should at least give you a basis for how to proceed. Good luck!

Other horse races and horse betting options in New York

Horse racing and betting on the races has been legal in New York for more than a century. Aside from a brief period in the early 1900s, it has been available throughout most of the state’s history.

Today, New York is home to some of the most prestigious racetracks in the country and boasts one of the country’s largest racing industries. Belmont Park is home to the Belmont Stakes, the third and final leg of the Triple Crown. Saratoga Race Course hosts the Travers Stakes each year. Aqueduct Racetrack has been open since 1894 and is the only racetrack within the city limits of New York City.

Beyond those three locations and other racetracks in the state, there are more than 100 off-track betting locations available for players to use. Off-track betting locations are small venues or bars where you can place horse bets and view the races. Although they don’t offer the full experience that you’d get at a racetrack proper, they still give the opportunity to bet on New York races and races around the country.

As is the case with all gambling in New York, the New York State Gaming Commission regulates horse racing in the Empire State. Any concerns or disputes that you have with a New York horse betting outlet should go to this agency.

It is possible that you might get confused when you see a listing for the New York Racing Association. Despite its official name, the NYRA is the nonprofit owner of the Belmont, Saratoga and Aqueduct racetracks. It is not a regulatory agency in any way.

Top New York racetracks

The Empire State is home to some of the most iconic racetracks in the world. A few of New York’s tracks are over a century old, which gives them a unique character. Many of these venues feature high-profile races that draw serious betting action.

Here is a list of the tracks in New York:

  • Aqueduct Racetrack: 110-00 Rockaway Blvd., South Ozone Park
  • Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel: 8315 Park Road, Batavia
  • Belmont Park: 2150 Hempstead Turnpike, Elmont
  • Finger Lakes Gaming & Racetrack: 5857 State Route 96, Farmington
  • Monticello Casino & Raceway: 204 State Route 17B, Monticello
  • Saratoga Race Course: 267 Union Ave., Saratoga Springs
  • Tioga Downs Casino Resort: 2384 W. River Road, Nichols
  • Vernon Downs Casino & Hotel: 4229 Stuhlman Road, Vernon
  • Yonkers Raceway: 810 McClean Ave., Yonkers

Major annual horse races

Not all horse races are equal. There are many relatively minor races, and then there are several major races that take place each year. Here are some of the top ones, both in the US and internationally:

  • Kentucky Derby — The Kentucky Derby is certainly the best-known American horse race and may be the top race in the world. It is the first leg of the Triple Crown and runs every year at Churchill Downs in Kentucky, traditionally on the first Saturday in May. Horses that win the Derby are usually immortalized forever.
  • Preakness Stakes — The Preakness Stakes is the second leg of the American Triple Crown and takes place on the third Saturday in May at Pimlico Race Course in Maryland. The “Run for the Black-Eyed Susans” is just over one mile on dirt and is notable for its party atmosphere in the infield of the track.
  • Belmont Stakes — The Belmont Stakes is the third and final leg of the Triple Crown and takes place in Elmont, New York. As the last leg of the Triple Crown, it has played host to the crowning of every Triple Crown winner in American history. The Belmont Stakes takes place on the first or second Saturday in June, three weeks after the Preakness Stakes.
  • Breeders’ Cup — The Breeders’ Cup is a tournament series that features Grade I and Grade II horse races in the first part of November. Each race features a purse of between $1 million and $6 million, making it a must for the top racehorses each year. The cup differs from the Triple Crown races and many other top events in that it rotates to a different track each year.
  • Grand National — The Grand National is a UK race that may be the most well-known horse race outside of the US. It takes place each year in April at the Aintree Racecourse, just outside of Liverpool. Unusually for American audiences, the race is a handicap steeplechase that compels horses and riders to jump over 30 obstacles as they traverse the four-plus-mile race. The Grand National purse is currently £1 million, with the winner taking home more than half of that amount.
  • Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes — The Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes is a Grade I horse race that takes place in January at Gulfstream Park in Florida. The event, which has only been in existence since 2017, has attracted loads of attention due to its high purses. In fact, the 2017 and 2018 events surpassed the Dubai World Cup as the world’s richest races, with purses of $12 million and $16 million, respectively.
  • Dubai World Cup — The Dubai World Cup is traditionally one of the richest horse races in the world each year. It takes place on the last Saturday in March at the Meydan Racecourse. Although individual races will sometimes overtake the Dubai World Cup as the world’s most lucrative events, the cup’s $12 million purse is always bound to draw top competition from around the globe.
  • Saudi Cup — The Saudi Cup is a young event that debuted in 2020 as the richest horse race ever to run. The event, which took place in late February at King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, featured a staggering purse totaling $20 million. The inaugural event was won by the American horse Maximum Security, who took home $10 million for his efforts.
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