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Fan Guide

No other facet of harness racing involves fans as much as betting—also known as wagering. The difference between wagering on horse racing and gambling in the casino is that in the casino, the odds of winning each game are fixed in favor of the casino every time you play. Wagering on horse racing is called pari-mutuel wagering, which literally means "among ourselves." The payoff odds change as money is wagered, meaning that you are in fact playing against those wagering on these races from around the world.

SINGLE-RACE WAGERS

Win: Collect if your horse finishes first.

Place: Collect if your horse finishes first or second.

Show: Collect if your horse finishes first, second or third.

Exacta: Collect if you select the first two finishers in exact order.

Trifecta: Collect if you select the first three finishers in exact order.

Superfecta: Collect if you select the first four finishers in exact order.

Across The Board: You win if your horse finishes 1st, 2nd or 3rd.

Exacta Box: You win if you select 2 horses that finish 1st or 2nd in any order.

Trifecta Box: You win if you select 3 horses that finish 1st, 2nd or 3rd in any order.

If you see a single number next to your horse on the odds board, for example, "5," then the horse is 5 to 1. This means that, for every dollar wagered on that horse to win, the winning ticket holder would win about $5. Plus, you always get your original bet amount back!

So, for a $2 winning ticket on a 5 to 1 horse, you would receive about $12. ($5 + $5 + your $2 bet = $12.)

Sometimes, when a horse is below the odds of 5 to 1, you might see two numbers with a dash between them. The odds of 9-2 (or 41/2-1) or 8-5 are typical examples. In the case of 9-2 odds, this means that, for every $2 bet, you would get about $11 back.

The astounding number of ways one can go about picking a winner is what makes harness racing challenging. You don’t have to know every bit of information to win a wager, but knowing some of the different approaches to picking winners will increase your success. Here are some variables to consider when looking to make an educated wager:


1 The Post Position Factor

Post positions are usually drawn randomly, and horses starting from the inside posts simply have less distance to travel. Pay attention to horses in posts 1 through 5, and pay special attention to the horses with inside post positions who had been in higher post positions in their last few starts (shown above as 1A); they may be due for an improved performance.

2 The Driver Factor

Drivers, like other athletes, possess varying amounts of ability. The top drivers are easy to spot by looking at the stats next to their name (Total Races-Wins-Seconds-Thirds-Universal Driver Rating System, which is a driver's "batting average"). The drivers with the highest UDR know how to best plan out a race, and know how and when to get their horse to give his all

3 The Class Factor

In order to keep the races competitive, horses are divided into stakes, conditioned and claiming races. A horse moving up in class will be facing tougher competition. A horse moving down in class may find this crowd a bit easier to beat. The simplest way to determine class—at the same racetrack—is to look at the purse amount for each race (shown as 3A).

4 The Trainer Factor

While the driver handles the horse in the race, the trainer is responsible for the horse’s care the rest of the time. Trainers have statistics just like drivers, so look for the highest Universal Trainer Rating, or UTR, to find the most successful at that track.

5 The Time Factor

Almost all harness races are one mile in length, so looking at the last few times that the horse posted is an important factor. They are listed in fifths of a second, so 1543 above means a mile time of 1 minute, 54 seconds and 3 fifths of a second. Some handicappers also pick a horse based on its final quarter- mile time, (shown by 5A).

6 The Performance Factor

Good horses are able to perform well week after week. In the upper right-hand portion of each horse’s past performances is the track where he won his fastest mile of the year and the size of the track on which he raced. Also listed is the time of the fastest winning mile of the year, number of starts, wins, seconds, thirds, and money won for this year and last.