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Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

US Horse Racing and Betting is as old as the United States themselves. The sport goes back all the way to 1665 when the Newmarket Course was founded in Salisbury, New York. You might know this place by now by the name of Hempstead Plains of Long Island. Needless to say, horse racing has been popular ever since.

Thoroughbred racing is especially popular. For about 150 years, people from all regions and all classes have been enjoying the race of jockeys and the numerous racetracks. Gambling and US Horse Racing are knit together tightly, as is seen in various popular movies and series. In 1890, there were already a staggering 314 tracks operating in the US! The anti-gambling sentiment of the early twentieth century did put a temporary dent in the rise of the sport, as did the economic crisis. They were both not enough to stop the rise of US Horse Racing and betting that have been flourishing since 1945 and onwards.

Flats or Jumps?

Although horse racing is a universal sport, there are two main divisions within the industry. Although harness racing is a popular variant in North America, the two major horse racing options for riders, trainers and fans is flat and jump racing. 

In general, flat racing involves the fastest horses in the world. As the name suggests, the track is flat and the horse only has to run as fast as possible towards the finish line unimpeded. In contrast, jump racing involves obstacles on the track and these races are often seen as the more entertaining in terms of unpredictability. 

Different types of horse racing

In the US, Thoroughbred flat races are most common and are run on either dirt, synthetic or turf surfaces. Less common but still popular are Quarter Horse racing and Standardbred horse racing, or combinations of these three types of racing surfaces. Quite rare and for people with exquisite taste is Racing with other breeds, such as Arabian horse racing.


Endurance racing is a very interesting type of horse racing as it does not require a horse just to be fast, but to have stamina. And lots of it! Starting in 1955 in California and professionalized in 1972 with the Endurance Ride Conference; this category expanded with races from 10 to 20 miles all the way up to 1000 miles!

Quarter Horse Racing

The ‘quarter’ does not come from quarter of a horse, but of a mile! These special bred horses with short muscles for a great start and sprint ride just 400 meters at full speed. The jockey has to be light and does not require much control over the horse as turning is quite rare.

Arabian Horse

Hello Lawrence of Arabia, nice horse you got there. This type of horse racing is done with purebred horses from the middle east. These horses are bred for their stamina and capacity for long distance running at moderate pace. In the old days, there used to be something very aristocrat about this type of horse racing, but it is increasingly becoming more open for the large audience.

Top Horse Racing Trainers

As with all sports, there are those that seem to dominate more than most and the horse racing world is no different. Although fans and insiders all have their own thoughts on “the best” trainer in the world, there are a few names that standout as expert in their field:

Jonjo O’Neill: A jumps trainer from Ireland, O’Neill was formerly a rider but now guides some of the world’s finest horse to victory at major festivals such as Cheltenham. Linking up with top jockeys such as Tony McCoy, O’Neill has won numerous accolades, including the Grand National. 

Sir Michael Stout: Honoured as a knight of the realm thanks to his services to racing, Stout has accomplished almost more than anyone else in the flat racing world. With more than 25 wins in both the British and Irish Classics, he is arguably one of the top horse racing trainers of all time. 

Richard Hannon: A licensed trainer since 1970, Hannon has a long pedigree in the game and he now operates out of Everleigh Stables in Marlborough. From this base he has built up a formidable record on the flats, including three British Classic wins and three Irish Classic wins. 

Paul Nicholls: Despite his family being from outside of the horse racing world, Nicholls managed to work his way up the ranks of the sport and is, today, considered one of the best. In total the veteran trainer has four Cheltenham Gold Cups to his name and dozens more titles on the international circuit.

US Horse Racing Betting

There is simply nothing that can beat betting on horse racing. Not even football. Excitement of a race that is usually decided by mere inches. The smell of the dirt, the horses. Jockeys pushing their horses to the limit. The audience cheering with their bet slips in their hand. The rumours of special horses that are in the form of their life or received a special training. If you have never been to a horse race, we definitely advise you should. The best thing about living in the twentieth century is that you can make live bets with your phone. Do you see a horse performing well during the race? Get your phone, go to Mobile Wins and place your bet. Best thing off all? First bet is on us thanks to our Get a Free Bet Bonus of £/$/€30 bonus!

Another major advantage of betting on Mobile Wins is that there is no ‘take out’ percentage. Your win is your win.

Top Horse Racing Events

The Grand National: In terms of prestige and excitement there are few races that can match the Grand National. Held every year in April at Aintree Racecourse, the race is a punter’s delight and, sometimes, a bookmaker’s nightmare. First run in 1839, the race now offers a prizepool of £1 million and that attracts more than 30 runners who must then compete over a 4 miles and 3 1/2 furlongs. 

To make things a little tougher, the competitors have to clear 30 fences throughout the race, some of which are known as the toughest in the industry, and in any Grand National it’s common for at least one horse to retire. The toughness and the unpredictability of the race is something that racing experts and casual fans love and that’s the reason it attracts more than 500 million viewers on an annual basis.

Prix de L’arc de Triomphe: One of the leading European events not to be held in the UK or Ireland, the Arc as it’s more commonly know is a flat race run at Longchamp on the first Sunday in October. Although France isn’t known for its diverse selection of world-class races, The Arc is leading light in the industry; not least because the purse is worth €5 million. 

This prizepool makes it the richest turf race in world and the second horse race behind the Dubai World Cup. Over the last few years the 1 1/2 mile course has crowned some fantastic champions, including two-time winner Treve, Sea the Stars and Montjeu. However, for all the success some horses have in The Arc, many winners often fail to stay the distance in some of the tougher flat races in the UK.

The Derby: Known as the greatest flat race in the world, The Derby, or the Epsom Derby as it’s known in North America, is Group 1 race that brings the best horses in the world to Epsom, Surrey, each year in June. As well as being the richest race in the UK, The Derby makes up the second trident of the heralded Triple Crown (the 2,000 Guineas and St Leger are the other two races) which means the race attracts millions of viewers every year.

 Among the legendary performances in The Derby, Lester Piggott is regarded as the leading jockey in the event. Notching up nine wins in his career, the high profile jockey made his name in The Derby by riding some of the best horses in history, such as Never Say Die and Nijinsky. 

The Cheltenham Gold Cup: In the annual racing calendar, few races are able to bring together the top horses from the UK and Ireland like the Cheltenham Festival. Featuring a number of high profile races, the event often coincides with St. Patrick’s Day and the jewel in its proverbial crown is the Gold Cup. A Grade 1 National Hunt race contested over 3 miles 2 1/2 furlongs; the Gold Up is open to horses aged five-years and older, which means the leading racers are always in attendance. 

Throughout the years the Cheltenham Gold Cup has put on some of the most spectacular jump races in recent memory, including classic wins by esteemed horses: Arkle, Kauto Star and Best Mate. Aside from the Gold Cup, Cheltenham as a festival is a fantastic event which produces a week’s worth of world-class racing entertainment. 

The Kentucky Derby: One of the biggest meets in the US, the Kentucky Derby takes places on the first Saturday in May in Louisville, Kentucky. A Grade 1 race that’s known as the “most exciting two minutes in sport”, the Kentucky Derby has a top prize worth $1,425,000 and that brings out the top runners in North America. 

One interesting difference between the Churchill Downs course, the place where the Kentucky Derby is held, and races in the UK, is the surface. While the majority tracks in the UK and Europe are made from grass, Churchill Downs is made up of dirt which adds a unique dynamic to the race. Of all the three-year-old+ runners that have triumphed in the race, Secretariat is considered on the best thanks to a leading time of 1:59.40 which it ran back in 1973.

Frequently Asked Questions about Betting on Horse racing

  • How long is a typical horse racing track?

    The length of a horse racing track can vary, but most tracks are around one mile (1.6 kilometers) in length for flat racing. For steeplechase or hurdle racing, tracks may be longer and include jumps.

  • What are the main types of horse races?

    The main types of horse races are flat racing, steeplechase (jump racing), and harness racing. In flat racing, horses run on a level track without any obstacles. Steeplechase involves jumping over hurdles and fences, while harness racing involves horses pulling a driver in a two-wheeled cart called a sulky.

  • How are horses classified in races?

    Horses are classified based on their age, sex, and racing performance. Different races have specific criteria for the horses allowed to participate, such as age restrictions and handicapping weights.

  • How do bookmakers set odds for horse racing?

    Bookmakers set odds based on the perceived chances of each horse winning the race. Factors like the horse’s past performance, jockey, track conditions, and the betting market influence the odds.

  • What is a horse’s form in horse racing?

    A horse’s form refers to its recent racing performances, including the positions and results in previous races. Understanding a horse’s form helps bettors assess its current condition and potential for success in upcoming races.

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