How to Bet

Introduction to Pari-Mutuel Wagering
When you wager, you are betting not against the track but against everyone who is making that type of wager in a particular race. For example, if you bet a horse to win, your bet goes into the win pool. Based on how much is wagered on each horse to win, their odds will change accordingly.

This is called pari-mutuel wagering, from the French term meaning "amongst ourselves." In this method of wagering, the public is betting against each other, not against the racetrack. In effect, the track has no interest in the results of a race. The track simply deducts a percentage from each dollar wagered for payment of purses, state taxes, and expenses. The remainder of the pool is returned proportionally to the winners.

Information is Valuable
Since you are essentially betting against everyone else, the more educated you are in your wager the better your chance of winning. The foundation of this expanded program is to allow you the opportunity to feel more confident about your wager by allowing you to make a more informed decision.

Types of Wagers
  You win if your horse finishes first.
  You win if your horse finishes first or second.
  You win if your horse finishes first, second, or third.
  Placing a wager on your horse to win, place, and show. A $2 bet "across the board" would be a $6 wager.
  Picking two horses to finish first and second in exact order.
  Picking three horses to finish first, second, and third in exact order.
  Picking four horses to finish first, second, third, and fourth in exact order.
  Picking the winners of two races that are designated Daily Double races. Wagers must be placed before the running of the first of the two races.
  Picking the winners of three races that are designated Pick Three races. Wagers must be placed before the running of the first of the three races.
  Picking the winners of four races that are designated Pick Four races. Wagers must be placed before the running of the first of the four races.
  Picking the winners of five races that are designated Pick Five races. Wagers must be placed before the running of the first of the five races.  This pool will carryover if no tickets are sold selecting the winners of all five races.

When you visit a mutuel window, state the following information:

[1] Name of track
[2] Race number
[3] Amount you wish to wager
[4] Type of wager
[5] Program number(s).
Example: "Buffalo Raceway, seventh race, two dollars to win on number five."

Advanced Wagers
If you are making an advanced wager, which would be a race after the upcoming one, state the race number before the wager.

Minimum Wagers 
The minimum wager is $2 for Win, Place and Show wagering, Exotic wagers have minimums as low as $0.10.

How Much is Returned to Winners?
On each win, place, and show bet, 83% of the money wagered is returned to bettors in winning payouts. The remaining 17%, known as the "takeout," is divided among the State of New York, horsemen (purses), breeders, and the racetrack. On wagers involving multiple horses, the takeout is higher.

Morning Line
The morning line odds in the program are set by an odds maker before the betting begins. This is an educated guess on how the public will bet on each horse. The odds change as money enters the mutuel pool.

Win odds are posted on television monitors and the infield tote board. These odds are updated every 45-90 seconds. Note that these odds will fluctuate from the time you wager until the betting ends. When you win, your payoff is determined by the closing odds.

These are the minimum payoffs for selected odds based on a $2 wager

1-9 $2.10
1-5 $2.40
2-5 $2.80
1-2 $3.00
3-5 $3.20
4-5 $3.60
3-2 $5.00
8-5 $5.20
9-5 $5.60
2-1 $6.00
5-2 $7.00
3-1 $8.00
5-1 $12.00
6-1 $14.00
8-1 $18.00
10-1 $22.00
12-1 $26.00
15-1 $32.00

A coupled entry in a race is when two or more horses belonging to the same owner, and/or conditioned by the same trainer, are deemed "coupled." Therefore, the coupled entry is comprised of two or more horses which are a single betting interest.

Example: In a race with a 1 and 1A entry, a bet on 1 is a bet on 1 and 1A.

A mutuel field is required when there are more than twelve betting interests in the same race. In this case, the Race Secretary "couples" two or more horses, because the number of horses in the race exceeds the number which can be handled separately by the pari-mutuel system.

Betting on one horse in an entry or on one horse in a pari-mutuel field is considered a bet on all horses in the respective entry or mutuel field.

Saddle Pad Colors
All standardbred racetracks have the following color format for saddle pad colors for post positions in each race

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9


There are mutuel windows located throughout the facility, and tellers operate the machines located at each of these individual windows. After saying the track and race number, you state your wagers to the teller and pay the amount you bet. You will then receive the mutuel ticket(s) showing your wagers. Please check all tickets prior to leaving a mutuel window.

Self-Betting Machines
For your convenience and privacy, self-betting machines are located throughout the track. Self-betting machines are clearly designated as "voucher only" and "bill accepting." Vouchers may be purchased at any mutuel window throughout the track.

Tote Board
The infield graphics board, or tote board, provides the following:

  • amount of money wagered on each horse individually in the win, place, and show pools
  • updated odds
  • fractional and final race times
  • the result of the preceding race
  • track condition
  • post time for the upcoming race and the time of day