Managing Your Money at the Horse Racing Track

Horse Racing Radar
Rich Bieglmeier
Monday, September 28, 2020

Most money management systems start with how much of your bankroll to commit per transaction/wager. You might think about wagering no more than 5% of your bankroll per race. With $300-$500, that's $15-$25 per race maximum. 

We are a proponent of building your bankroll with higher percentage, lower payout plays and then committing profits to the lower percentage, higher payout plays. For example, you might think about beginning your day with Win/Place/Show bets. If you collect, put the original investment in one bucket and the winnings in another bucket.

For example, if you wagered $10 on a horse at 3-1 to win, your payout will be at least $40, which includes your $10 bet. In this case, $10 goes back into your original payroll and $30 into the pool for exotic bets; playing with house money so to speak.

Once you've built your exotic bankroll to a comfortable level, then you might consider exotic bets. Our preferred method is to slowly move up the risk v. reward ladder from Daily Doubles, Exactas, then to Trifectas, then to Superfectas and Pick 3, 4, 5 and 6s.  

To keep your cost to a minimum and to stretch your bankroll to the max, the first thing you want to do is identify your key horse(s). Key horses could include Pro Handicappers' top two choices, best bets or horses that you believe stand a good chance to win or place. You might also consider for overlays – horses with odds that have moved higher. For example, a horse that's 2-1 morning line that's 5/2 or more a few minutes before post time. 

Once you've identified a key horse(s), put the key horse(s) on top (win) of the exacta ticket. Use the other key horse considerations for the bottom (place) of the ticket. The place horses could include any of our picks, including the alternative picks (especially if the odds for the longer shots have dropped), the morning line and post time favorites. 

Once you've identified your key horse(s) use them strategically in your exotic wagers. Here is an example on how you might consider using your key horse(s) in an exacta:

One Key Horse: Key Horse 1/Contender 1, Contender 2, Contender 3...

Two Key Horses: Key Horse 1, Key Horse 2/Key Horse 1, Key Horse 2, Contender 1, Contender 2...

The backdoor exacta is another strategy. Identify up to four horses that should be competitive and put them in the win position with your key horse or the post time favorite on the bottom of the ticket. 

The ticket would look like Contender 1, Contender 2, Contender 3.../Key Horse or post time favorite.

Many times, the favorite runs second with a value horse on top, and those exactas payout much nicer than when the favorite wins. Remember, the favorite only wins at about 30%. That means 70% of the time he/she finishes somewhere other than the top of the ticket. The biggest exacta payouts come when the favorite doesn't finish in the top two.

Trifectas can empty your wallet in a hurry if you put too many horses on the ticket. Again, go through the process of identifying up to two key horses. We recommend one key horse. They are horses you believe will finish in-the-money (first, second, or third). Next up, identify up to four other contenders. 

Once you've identified the contenders, not including the key horse(s), rank your contenders. Now it's time to build the trifecta ticket. We suggest putting the key horse in win, place and show (third) spots on your trifecta tickets. 

Sample single key horse trifecta tickets might look like this:

  • Key Horse/ #1 ranked contender, #2 ranked contender/ #1 ranked contender, #2 ranked contender, #3 ranked contender and #4 ranked contender
  • #1 ranked contender, #2 ranked contender/ Key Horse/ #1 ranked contender, #2 ranked contender, #3 ranked contender and #4 ranked contender
  • #1 ranked contender, #2 ranked contender, #3 ranked contender and #4 ranked contender/ #1 ranked contender, #2 ranked contender/ Key Horse

The process is similar when using two key horses; although, you might consider using up to three contenders. 

Sample two key horse trifecta tickets might look like:

  • Key Horse 1, Key Horse 2/ Key Horse 1, Key Horse 2/ #1 ranked contender, #2 ranked contender, #3 ranked contender
  • Key Horse 1, Key Horse 2/ #1 ranked contender, #2 ranked contender, #3 ranked contender/ Key Horse 1, Key Horse 2
  • #1 ranked contender, #2 ranked contender, #3 ranked contender/ Key Horse 1, Key Horse 2/ Key Horse 1, Key Horse 2

To reiterate: 

  • Only commit up to 5% of your bankroll per race – as you bankroll grows, so will your bet size
  • Try to build your bankroll early on with high probability lower payouts wagers like Win/Place/Show Bets
  • Identify top win candidates – top choice, overlays, post time favorite...
  • Identify contenders – keep on eye on long shots being bet down, overlays...
  • Construct exotic betting tickets using your key horse(s) to limit ticket costs

Of course, there is no foolproof betting strategy. That's why it's important to limit your per race bet amount and the number of horses per ticket. The longer you stay in the game, the better your odds are of cashing tickets. 

Get today's full picks for all tracks and races at Guaranteed Tip Sheet.