Mucciolo’s Top 5 Horse Betting Strategies for 2024

April 5th, 2024

Horse racing offers the most diversity from a gambling perspective, due to the fact that there are so many different types of bets that one can make (straight pools, vertical exotics, horizontal exotics, future wagers, etc.) on a given race or combination of races. And it’s the most exciting too. 

Best Horse Racing Betting Strategies for 2024

Playing the ponies is an inexact science that is ever-evolving for me. I have, over time, gone from a novice bettor to a daily grinder, then as a very selective investor, and finally to somewhere in the middle of it all. And the type of wagers that I have focused on has changed numerous times, as well. Below is what I will focus on for the remainder of this year, and potentially going forward. 

Treat Each Race Separately

What is implied here is to play each race independently, and not according to your bankroll. I have found out over the years that, when I make plays with regard to if I won or lost the previous race or races, it can skew my judgment. While I’m not 100% committed to this, I do tell myself before each individual race that ‘I am even right now’, regardless of prior wins or losses. Because when I’m ahead, I often get too loose with my greenbacks, and conversely when I’m behind, I tend to get scared with my money. 

More Focus on the Straight Pools

I’ll be the first to say that I like almost every bet offered on the slate throughout the day, and please don’t take this as a negative endorsement for any type of exotics wager. I play exotics quite often, but the win/place/show arena is still my favorite. It’s not as sexy as other investments, but I fare better and the odds say you will, as well. From a personal standpoint, I’m a big advocate of the Win/Show play on a horse, with a bigger portion of my wager on the latter (25/75 pct ratio is my norm). Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint, figuratively, of course. 

Be Creative

I’m not being hypocritical in saying ‘be creative’ following #2 on the list, because I do feel that every individual race has its own appeal and opportunity from a wagering standpoint. If you don’t fancy an overwhelming favorite’s chances to win a particular event, a multi-race play (Pick 3, Pick 4, etc.) is often a good option. And, perhaps, a vertical play (exacta, trifecta, superfecta, etc.). It’s even ok to bet multiple horses to win in the same race, even if it does cut your rate of return down. Profit is profit. 

Betting on Kentucky Tracks Makes Sense, and Cents

This is not a selfish marketing ploy on my behalf by any means, it simply comes down to dollars, and especially, CENTS. The tracks located in the Bluegrass State (and recently Emerald Downs) have begun paying to the penny, instead of the nickel or dime breakage that occurs at other venues. What this means is the horse that paid $2.40 in the past can potentially pay $2.59 now! And while that might seem minor to many, it’s a big deal to bettors that play on a regular basis, regardless of the amount of daily/weekly investment. I hope that this becomes the norm across the country, but until then, I’m playing Churchill/Keeneland/Turfway/Ellis as much as possible. It just makes SENSE. 

Play the Right Races

Knowing which race might be correct to play is impossible to know ahead of time, obviously. But sticking to your guns where you have conviction, or a level of comfort with a certain type of contest, will yield dividends in the long run. My wheelhouse, in general, is maiden races, stakes contests, and turf events at specific venues. I have surely endured success with other facets of wagering, but over the long run, these are the ones that have worked best for me in the past. And I suggest to all bettors to put more concentration on the races that have been most rewarding to you over the years.