Horse Racing Betting in Canada
Horse racing remains one of the most popular sports for the betting community and in some parts of the world, it is second only to football in terms of the money wagered across a calendar year. In Canada, it is possible to bet on horse racing using one of the authorised sportsbooks and it retains a huge following across the country.
Canadian horse racing holds some interesting events of its own but many of the biggest meetings take place elsewhere. No matter what a player’s preference may be, there are lots of options for punters in Canada to bet on the horses and here is our guide as to what to look out for.
Recommended Betting Sites
How to bet on Horse Racing online
Once a player is signed up to a sportsbook, it’s easy to place a wager on the horses. With a funded account, simply go to the A to Z list of available sports and click on the horse racing tab. A list of the current day’s meetings will then appear and it’s then a case of making a selection from the runners and riders, clicking on the horse and then choosing your stake.
Alternatively, for the bigger events there are active ante post markets that are published some way in advance. The process of betting is the same for these and here is a guide to the type of bets you can place on any horse race.
Types of Horse Racing Bets
Horse racing is a very simple sport to follow and that’s why it’s perfect for both novice and advanced bettors There isn’t a huge range of complicated prop bets to follow here and the main focus is on which horse is going to win the race.
There are, however, a number of ways in which you can stake on that horse and, you can also combine other runners and take advantage of a choice of multiple bets. Here are the most common bet types that you will find available from your sportsbook.
A straight wager is essentially where the punter stakes on one horse only. There are no multiples or formulas involving additional runners on the card – just a bet on one single runner from the list of horses that have been declared.
There are, however, a number of ways in which players can stake on that horse so here is a guide as to what’s available to Canadian bettors from around the sportsbooks.
This really is betting in its simplest form: Here, all we are looking for is the selected horse to come through and win the race. Punters look at the runners and riders, evaluate form and the horse’s ability to perform at the track and over the distance and make the bet accordingly.
Quite simply, if the horse wins the race then a profit is paid to the successful backer but if the horse finishes second or worst, the bet is lost and the stake forfeited.
When a place bet is made, the horse doesn’t have to win in order for the bettor to claim a profit. In Canada and North America in general, a place will be paid if your selection finishes either first or second in its designated race.
The returns will be less than those that apply for a straight win but this staking on a place is a perfect option for those that like the look of a horse but aren’t completely convinced that it will come through to win.
A show bet is very similar to a place except in this instance, the stake is a winner if the horse finishes 1st, 2nd or third. Once again, the odds are reduced and the profit is smaller but it’s a good path to take for those who think their horse is good enough for the top three.
Once again, the term and the mechanics of this bet are very specific to North America and a ‘show’ is more common at Canadian-friendly bookmakers.
An exotic wager is a bet where multiple horses combine. In the examples listed above, punters are only staking on one horse and that runner alone decides whether the bet wins or loses. An exotic wager is far more complex as it will involve two or more horses.
As the following examples show, the selections will usually need to come home in a certain way in order for the bet to be considered a winner.
An exacta bet picks two horses for the same race and the bettor stakes on them to come home in first and second place. The important point to note is that with an Exacta, those horses must finish in the specified order.
If they finish in the reverse order to the one that the bettor specifies then the bet is lost and, of course, if either or both of the horses finish outside of the top two then this is also a loser.
When a quinella bet is placed, the bettor is picking two horses and once again betting on them to finish first and second. The clear difference between this and an exacta bet is that this time, those two horses can finish in any order.
The odds will be shorter with a quinella but there is, obviously, more chance of it landing and it will only fail if either, or both of the horses finish in third or worse.
All of these exotic wagers follow a pattern and, with a trifecta, there are three horses involved as the name suggests. The bettor makes those three selections and for the bet to win, the picks must finish first, second and third in the correct order.
The bet fails If the horses occupy the top three but don’t finish in the specified order and it will also lose if one, two or all of the selections finish in fourth place or worse.
A superfecta is the most complex of these exotic wagers and it’s also the toughest to land. Here, the bettor must pick four horses from an individual race and they must finish first, second, third and fourth in the order that they specify.
Once again, there is no profit to be returned if the horses occupy the top four but are not in the correct order and the bet also fails if at least one of those selections finishes in fifth place or worse.
Live Streamed Horse Racing
Depending on your choice of sportsbook, it is possible to stream live horse racing from around the world onto your PC or mobile device. Coverage will differ but this is a nice bonus offering that can help players to keep track of their bets in real time.
Among the many bookmakers who offer a live streamed service, bet365, Ladbrokes and Unibet are among the market leaders. Bet365 are generally recognised as the pioneers of in play betting so it makes sense for them to provide a really strong set of live races.
There are some points to look out for and the terms will differ depending on your sportsbook but in general, you will be required to have a funded account in order to watch a live race. In addition, some bookmakers will stipulate that you must have a bet running on that race in order to catch the action.
There will be system requirements too and while it should be simple to download and watch a live stream on your PC or laptop, iPhones and Smartphones may have a minimum setting needed and we would always recommend that you download the latest update on your phone to be certain of access.
Check too that the stream is available in your area. Most sportsbooks will extend to Canada and other parts of the world while some of the smaller operators are geo specific and will restrict to UK and Ireland only.
Major Horse Racing Events in the World
Kentucky Derby Betting
The very first Kentucky Derby was held back in 1875 and this is by far the most prestigious horse race in the United States. It carries one of the biggest prize funds of any sport and naturally attracts some of the best horses and jockeys from all over the world.
Held at the Churchill Downs track in Louisville Kentucky on the first Saturday in May, this is a 10 furlong sprint for three year olds which has been dubbed as the ‘Fastest Two Minutes in Sports’. It’s a historic event on the calendar and one that attracts millions of dollars in betting each year.
The Royal Ascot Betting
We cross the Atlantic to the UK now and the Royal Ascot meeting which is traditionally held over five days each June. This event was first run back in 1711 and, as the name suggests, it is visited by the Royal Family and as such, it’s also seen as a big social occasion for UK racegoers.
There are no fewer than 30 races held across those five days and included are some of the most important Group Ones of the entire racing year. The Coronation Stakes, the Commonwealth Cup and the Diamond Jubilee Stakes attract plenty of interest but the focal point is the Ascot Gold Cup which is run on the Thursday of the festival.
The Grand National Betting
Over in the UK, if a novice punter has just one bet every year, chances are it will be on the Grand National. The race started in 1839 on Liverpool’s Aintree Course and has grown to become one of the biggest sporting spectacles anywhere in the world.
For the horses and jockeys, this is a supreme test of endurance around four miles and 514 yards of the track but it’s the daunting fences that sort out the winners from the losers. Great horses such as Red Rum and Aldiniti have written themselves into the Grand National history books and at the start of April each year, this is one of the busiest days for horse racing betting.
Melbourne Cup Betting
The Melbourne Cup is the ‘Race that Stops a Nation’ and in this case the nation is Australia. The Aussies are mad about horse racing and among a host of important Group Ones, this is the standout. It’s a handicap over two miles for three year olds and above and we’ve seen some notable winners in over 150 years of racing.
Traditionally held on the first Tuesday in November, the race takes place on the Flemington Course in Melbourne and has been run since way back in 1861. In the modern day it carries a huge purse and is known to be one of the richest turf races on the planet, so that ensures a declaration of world class runners along with another hectic day for the horse racing sportsbooks.
Canadian Horse Events
Canadian Triple Crown
There are some top class meetings in Canada but for many racegoers, the highlight is the triple crown. Three year old horses foaled in Canada qualify for the series which takes in the Queen’s Plate, the Prince of Wales Stakes and the Breeders Stakes. Each of those races is a prestigious renewal in its own right but the ultimate aim is to win all three and claim the coveted Triple Crown.
The series was first held officially in 1959 although the three races involved had been run as separate entities prior to that date. Since 1959, there have been seven winners of the Triple Crown and as of 2017, the most recent was Wando in 2003. Each race attracts a lot of interest from the betting community and it is possible to find Triple Crown markets at the start of each year.
In the modern day, the Queen’s Plate forms the first leg of the Triple Crown but its history goes back much further. In fact, this is the oldest Canadian horse race that has been held continuously and it first went off way back in 1860.
The race itself takes place over one and a quarter miles on a Tapeta surface of the Woodbine Track in Ontario and like all Triple Crown events, this is for Canadian bred thoroughbreds aged three years. The field here is restricted to 17 runners and the exact date switches between June and July so look out for the confirmed schedule for another great day of Canadian horse racing each year.
Prince of Wales Stakes
The second leg of the Triple Crown is the Prince of Wales Stakes and this was first held at Thorncliffe Park Raceway back in 1929. There have been some changes of venue since but from 1988 onwards, the regular location has been the Fort Erie Race Track in Ontario.
This three year old, Canadian exclusive race is run over nine and a half furlongs and it’s a fast surface with the current speed record being held by Bruce’s Mill who went round in 1.53:80 in 1994. In less than two minutes, the winner of the Prince of Wales Stakes comes home and hopefully for some owners and bettors, they will have kept alive their hopes of claiming the Triple Crown.
The Woodbine Race Track in Ontario is the venue for the final leg of the Triple Crown with the Breeders’ Stakes going off every August. The race was first run back in 1889 and this is the longest of our three races with 12 furlongs of the track awaiting some of the best Canadian three year old thoroughbreds.
We’ve seen some fascinating duels in over 100 years of racing and in many cases, the Triple Crown has been on the line as the runners head to Woodbine. Like all of these three races, however, the Breeders’ Stakes is a top class renewal in its own right so even if the Triple Crown isn’t live by the time the runners and riders line up, there will be huge interest in the race from both a spectator’s and a bettor’s viewpoint.
Horse Racing Betting Tips
There are lots of horse races both in Canada and across the world but how do punters turn odds in their favour and make regular profits from the sport? There are a number of strategies to follow but firstly, it’s vitally important to study form.
With so many stats available in the digital era, it’s easy to check on a horse’s recent record so look at performances and in particular, study how that horse performs on certain tracks and over specific distances. Those can be vital pointers for future runs if the race you’re looking to bet on holds similar length and location moving forward.
Serious punters also like to stay away from the big named horses and also the big meetings in the belief that the smaller stables have more of a chance of delivering a profit. The big races that we mentioned above are all great spectacles but they have very competitive fields which can be tough to predict. In contrast, a smaller meeting from one of the provincial race tracks in Canada or the UK is less competitive with small declarations and as a result, the theory is that it’s easier to call.
It’s all about finding value so do plenty of research and consider looking beyond the big races to find more likely winners at generous odds.
Best Horse Racing Betting Sites in Canada
There are a number of sites vying for Canadian business but naturally some are better than others. We recommend Sports Interaction for a number of reasons but firstly, they are based in Canada and therefore look to provide a positive all round service for account holders who are located here.
Players can stake in CAD which is an added bonus but aside from those obvious benefits, this is an operator who takes horse racing very seriously with great SP odds and coverage of all the big events around the world, along with many of the smaller meetings where those value bets can be found.
The Royal Panda brand enjoyed success online as a casino before launching their sportsbook offering in 2016. In a short space of time, they’ve captured a big market share of horse racing, largely because of their pricing.
Royal Panda were taken on by the main odds comparison site very quickly and punters have been able to see just how strong their prices are on all sports. Like all of the recommended bookmakers on this list, Royal Panda have good coverage of meetings in Canada and all across the world but it’s those odds that stand out, making them one of the first places for Canadians to sign up with.
Bodog have been trading since 1994 and we believe that trust is important when it comes to building a relationship with a bookmaker. Twenty years and counting is a long time in the digital age and once again, they are a proud North American operator who is dedicated to providing top service for customers in Canada and the US.
Horse racing is an important part of the coverage in what is a good all round sportsbook. Prices for the big events come in early so there is no waiting around for bets and unlike some bookies who are focussed elsewhere, there are lots of markets available for all Canadian horse racing – not just the Triple Crown.
Anyone who enjoys live betting should head straight to bet365 and make this their first sign up. This operator was the pioneer of in-play and while others have followed, bet365 remain the market leader with thousands of live options for every day of the week.
Bet365 are also widely used for ante post betting and for horse racing they have some of the best prices from around the sportsbooks. They are often the first to declare so this is a good place for early value and they operate a best odds guarantee scheme for certain meetings around the world. The live betting really stands out here but bet365 are a good all rounder with excellent prices across the board.
Unlike our other recommended bookmakers, SportingBet do not currently have a welcome offer available for new customers but we do suggest looking beyond that. This is a place to set up and stay for the long term because we feel this operator mixes choice and value to a perfect degree.
The value comes from consistently strong odds across all horse racing. SportingBet are frequently out on their own with the best prices but they are rarely, if ever, out of step with the rest of the industry.
The choice comes from the wide set of racing markets from Canada and elsewhere in the world and there is a good choice of live betting too. Overall, SportingBet provide a great all-round package with which to complete our list of recommended bookies.