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A Comprehensive Guide to Triple Crown Betting

Each spring the top three-year-olds in training go through a grueling three-race series. No, we’re not talking about a Gymboree at your kid’s daycare, we’re talking about the Triple Crown. Betting on horse racing can seem daunting if you’ve never done it before. Don’t fret. Odds Shark’s got you covered with our Triple Crown betting tutorial.

What is the Triple Crown?

The Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing is a prestigious title awarded to the horse that wins the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. The first Triple Crown winner was Sir Barton in 1919 but it wasn’t until Gallant Fox took the top prize in 1930 that the three races became known as the powerhouse test of champions that it is today.

Kentucky Derby: Often referred to as the two most exciting minutes in sports, this race takes place at historic Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday, May 2, 2020.

Preakness Stakes: Held at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, the second leg on the quest to winning the Triple Crown will take place on Saturday, May 16, 2020.

Belmont Stakes: Three weeks after the Preakness, the last part of the race will take place on Saturday, June 6, 2020, at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York.

How to Bet on the Triple Crown

When you go to any racebook – sports betting sites specifically designed for betting on the ponies – you have many options. Each offers a chance to net you some major coin if you handicap your picks correctly.

Futures: Getting in Early

Any wager you make weeks or even months in advance of a big event is a futures bet. For instance, you could bet on a potential Super Bowl winner before football season starts. In horse racing, futures work the same way.

Odds to win the Triple Crown would look something like this:

Gunpowder -130

Stranger +210

Cyril Proudbottom +440

Quick Draw McGraw +500

The Horse of a Different Color +900

Li’l Sebastian +1150

Pokey +1500

Favorites are always represented by the minus sign (-) and underdogs – or more aptly, underhorses – are shown with the plus sign (+). We use American odds (-500) but you can use Fractional (1/5) or Decimal (1.20) odds. Your region will generally determine the odds type. Bettors in the Americas favor their namesake. Those in the U.K. move toward fractions, and Australians and Europeans are fond of decimals.

In this fictitious scenario, oddsmakers are giving Ichabod Crane’s stallion Gunpowder (-130) a 55.52 percent chance of winning the Triple Crown races. If you were to bet $100 on him, you’d get a payout of $176.92 – your original money is returned coupled with your prize of $76.92.

On the other hand, if you believe that Gumby has been working hard with Pokey and a win is inevitable even though bookmakers are giving him a 6.25 percent shot, that same $100 would give you $1600 – your $100 comes back along with your loot of $1500. Bets on underdogs are considered riskier, which is why they come with a bigger reward. However, don’t bet blindly thinking you’ll clean up. Do your research beforehand to ensure that your horse selection makes sense.

To see how much you’d win based on the odds and amount bet, look at our Odds Calculator.

Win, Place, Show: Picking Positions

This bet involves you picking a horse to win the race outright (win), a horse to come in second (place), and one to come in third (show). This bet is similar to the moneyline in other sports, except you’re not choosing between one team over the other to be victorious, you’re picking the top three placements of steeds.

Let’s say you have picked your three horses. Your betting slip would look like this:

Win – Secretariat

Place – California Chrome

Show – Mr. Ed

Horse Matchup: Narrowing the Field

Matchup bets allow you to choose between two horses instead of each one in the race. The great thing about these bets is your chosen horses don’t need to win, they just have to beat the other one. For example, if you correctly predict that Affirmed will outrun Black Beauty, you win your bet.

Exactas, Trifectas and Quinellas: Lowering the Stakes

These are bets that let you reduce your risk. With an exacta bet you need to predict the top two finishers in the right order. A trifecta bet requires you to select horses to finish first, second and third. Finally, for a quinella bet, you would need to pick two horses to finish first and second. However, they do not have to be in the precise order.

Pick 3 and Daily Double: Horse Racing Parlay

A parlay consists of multiple bets on one ticket. These horse racing bets are in the same vein. To make a Pick 3 bet, you would need to correctly select the winner of three races in a row. To make a daily double bet, you would need to accurately pick the victors of two consecutive races.

Now that you know how to bet on the Triple Crown, go forth and bet on the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes. You could become the Seabiscuit of horse betting.