4 reasons you should bet turf races

October 12th, 2022

Some of the most famous horse races in the United States are contested on dirt, including the Kentucky Derby (G1). But turf races often provide the best betting opportunities for horseplayers.

Are you wondering how one racing surface can offer betting advantages over another? Here are four reasons why you should be betting on turf races:

1. They offer large fields

Turf races are popular among horsemen, drawing lots of entries. This is a positive for bettors, since grass races frequently draw larger fields than dirt races. Larger fields mean more possible outcomes: whereas a six-horse field features only 30 exacta combinations, a 12-horse field boasts 132 possible exacta outcomes.

2. They generate big payoffs

Large fields are valuable to bettors because they tend to produce bigger payoffs than races with small fields. It stands to reason that an exacta with 132 possible outcomes will pay better than an exacta with 30 possible outcomes, because winning tickets will be fewer and farther between.

Along the same lines, large fields often draw bigger betting pools, so multi-race wagers like the Pick 3 and Pick 4 can generate truly rewarding payoffs if you catch a string of longshot winners. Remember, a Pick 4 with a pool of $250 can’t pay more than $250, no matter how many 100-1 winners you select.

3. They’re valuable to “trip handicappers”

It’s common for turf races to unfold in slow early/fast late fashion, which is the opposite of the fast early/slow late race shape commonly seen on dirt. This means turf races are often wide-open at the top of the stretch, with many horses accelerating and jockeying for position. When this happens in a large field, you have a recipe for troubled trips.

This means turf races can be a goldmine for “trip handicappers.” Trip handicappers watch race replays and take note when horses encounter trouble during a race. If a horse is caught wide on the turns, blocked down the homestretch, or unable to accelerate at a key point in the race, the horse is said to have endured a “bad trip.” Trip handicappers pay attention and conclude the horse is capable of running better with a clean trip.

When betting on turf races, don’t just pick the fastest horse(s) at first glance and assume they’ll prevail. Dig into the replays and determine which contenders might be better than they first appear.

4. They’re exciting

Large fields, big payoffs, wide-open fast finishes down the homestretch — that sounds exciting, right? For all the reasons we’ve outlined previously, turf races are among the most exciting events in horse racing. Whether you’re betting a Grade 1 stakes or a $10,000 maiden claimer, a turf race with 14 evenly matched starters is a thrill to watch and bet.

Some of the best turf racing in the world takes place at the Breeders’ Cup. Check out the TwinSpires Edge Breeders’ Cup section for more details.