Wednesday, August 15, 2007

horse-racing info

I don't support horse racing, since 800 thoroughbreds die every year as a result of race-related injuries, but I've always wondered what the track talk means. Here's what it is:

1. Track Talk

According to Bob Ike, pro handicapper at California's Del Mar Racetrack, the first step is knowing the basic wagers: A win bet pays only if your horse finishes first; a place bet means your horse has to finish either first of second; and a show bet pays is a horse comes in first, second, or third. Learn these terms or risk getting laughed out of the grandstand, ticket in hand.
2. Red Flags
Horses race in three classes: Stakes horses are the best in the country, allowance horses are the next level down, and claiming horses are for sale (and therefore include a monetary value). Pay attention to anything jumping around from class to class: If a horse drops from a $40,000 allowance race into a $10,000 claiming race, watch out--the animal might be unsound.
3. Multi-Pass
If you don't want to bet on just one horse, you can wager on multiple horses to finish in a specific order (1st and 2nd = exacta, 1st through 3rd = trifecta, 1st through 4th = superfecta). "Exotic" wagers like this can pay big, but the amount depends on the size of the betting pool and how many people picked the winning combo (minus the track's take of about 14 to 20 percent).
4. Wheels Up
You are also able to compromise and "wheel" a bet so that one pick must win, but several others can finish elsewhere (to wheel the 5 over the 2 and 8 in an exacta, for instance, means the 5 must win but either the 2 or 8 can finish second). Take this one step further with a trifecta key and pick four horses--one to win and two of the remaining three to finish in second and third.