4 Types of Races Every Sports Bettor Must Know Before Betting on Horses


Without any doubt, horse racing is one of the most popular sporting activities in America and other parts of the world. The sport has a massive following, with millions of people flocking to racetracks to watch as the action unveils. Bettors have not been left behind either. However, you need to stay abreast of the types of races available before venturing into horse race betting. You don’t want to bet on something you don’t know.

Big races like the Breeder’s Cup and the Kentucky Derby are quite popular, so many horse race bettors know them. However, these are the top rung on the ladder. Horses need to start at a lower level and work their way up the class system. Before you start betting on horses, you need to understand these ranks. Here are the main types of horse races in a bottom-up order:

Flat Races

Simply put, a flat race is any horse race that lacks hurdles or fences. These races usually involve thoroughbred horses. Their main objective is to test the horses’ strength, stamina, and speed.

Flat races are further classified into:

  • Claiming races – Here, horses will be on sale and competing at the same time. Hence the name “claiming”. If anyone wants to claim a horse, they need to make a request before the actual race. Notably, about half of horse races in the US are claiming races.
  • Allowance races – This type of race targets horses that must meet some set standards to compete, but are not on sale. The horses might be allowed to carry a reduced weight, hence the name “allowance”.
  • Stakes races – Here, top thoroughbred horses with the biggest purses and highest prestige compete. Examples are the Triple Crown, Breeder’s Cup, and Kentucky Derby races.
  • Handicap races – Sometimes the handicapper can assign different weights to horses based on their ranks. Such a race is called a handicap race.

Steeplechase Races

Unlike flat races, steeplechase races will involve jumping over several objects to get to the finish line. The obstacles can be fences, water jumpers, hurdles, or water ditches. Notably, a standard fence must be at least 4 feet and 6 inches in height. Distances can be anywhere between 2 to 4.5 miles. A good number of steeplechase races are run every year. The most popular one since 1840 is the Grand National Race in Liverpool. Here, horses must race on a 4 miles track. Notably, this race is action-filled, with up to 30 fences. 

If you choose to bet on this type of race, observe how the horses maneuver over the obstacles. Undoubtedly, most jockeys and equines in this race are experienced and confident. However, how a horse glides over the fence can give you a clue about the outcome. Its age and previous performances can also help you bet wisely. But you don’t have to do all this if you intend to bet on other sports. Visit arbitrage betting sites like OddsJam and learn how to maximize your odds of winning.

Harness Races

This type of race blends in some kind of humor. A harness horse will pace while pulling the driver in a sulky (the cart you see). The typical distance is one mile, although ancient races could go up to six miles. 

Usually, winning here depends on the driver. His maneuvers need to be athletic and strategic. He also needs to make intelligent choices if he must win. If you choose to bet on harness races, you need strong faith in the driver. The horse plays a role too, but the win is usually determined by the driver.

Endurance Races

This type of race also has an ancient origin. Its main goal is to assess a horse’s perseverance and a rider’s stamina and training. Equines are subjected to grueling rides and obstacles like rivers and harsh terrains. On a general level, endurance races are 50 to 150 miles long and can take days to complete.

Notable endurance races include the 100-mile Tevis Cup in the US and the 250-mile Shahzada race in Australia. They may not be as exciting as flat races, but they seem to tickle some bettors’ fancy. 

Last Thoughts

Like many other sports, horse racing has evolved greatly. Nonetheless, one thing remains unchanged – the sport is fun to watch and even better to bet on. But as you plan to start betting on horses, don’t forget to do your due diligence. Pick one type of race that excites you. Next, check the athletic superiority of each horse and the riders’ training and savviness. A perfect combination of both can lead to a win.