Breeders’ Cup Betting Guide

The Breeders’ Cup is a two-day marathon of horse racing that never fails to generate a huge amount of interest. As of 2021, no less than fourteen races are run over the course of the weekend, and with a variety of age brackets represented – and different surfaces present – there is always at least one race of interest for people looking to place a bet.

For jockeys and bettors alike, the Breeders’ Cup Classic is the showpiece. Worth every cent of its $6m purse, the ‘Classic’ guarantees a fast, uncompromising finish to the Breeders’ Cup weekend. Along with the Preakness Stakes, Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, the Breeders’ Cup Classic is considered in horse racing lore to be the fourth component of the ‘Grand Slam’.

Best Racing Sites to Bet on the 2024 Breeders’ Cup Online

How to Bet on the Breeders’ Cup

There are three ways that people can place a bet on the Breeders’ Cup:

Online Horse Betting

In all regions where wagering on the Breeders’ Cup is legal, online betting now accounts for a majority of the jackpot associated with the event. All online betting sites with any sort of presence or respectability will provide at least one special offer to new users, with matched bet bonuses and/or bonus bet offers that can be redeemed within seconds of registration.

With a ‘bonus bet’ offer, the user will get only the winnings (if any) that the bet pays out, without the returned stake, as would be the case if the user was using money from the account’s wallet as normal.

Matched bet bonuses are different in that the winnings and the wager amount are returned. However, the user must play the bonus amount a set number of times before withdrawing any winnings.

Specific events can be found via ‘horse racing’ tab on any given site. With sports betting still in the process of being legalized in many U.S states, options for betting on horse racing are, naturally, very easy to find from even the most unfamiliar landing page.

Even outside the U.S, in places where a full online sports betting experience has been possible for a long time, horse racing is deliberately given a more prominent presence on the bookmaker’s landing page. Some sites may, however, require a user to select ‘thoroughbred’ (before ‘Breeders’ Cup’) from a list of sub-categories under ‘horse racing’.

Once the desired horses are added to the virtual betting slip, by means of the appropriate action button (perhaps a horse’s name inside a rectangle) a wager can be entered and then submitted via a button which will either say ‘bet now’ or ‘place bet’ or similar.

Betting at Teller

Those in attendance at the Breeders’ Cup can use tellers to place any type of bet. Anyone using a teller to place a bet needs only to state the name of the track, the race number (e.g. third, fourth etc), the wager amount, the type of wager and the horse (or horses) to be backed. In the machine age, projected winnings are calculated quickly.

Off Track Betting

There are also designated locations away from the immediate vicinity of the track, where anyone over the legal age can place a bet on the Breeders’ Cup without going online. These are known as Off Track Betting (OTB) parlors.

Legal betting options in the US (OTB)

With online betting still not possible for some US residents, OTB parlors in states with a rich culture of betting on horse racing events are a much sought-after legal horse betting option in the US. OTB locations of note include the following:

New Jersey:

OTB parlors have been available in NJ since 2007, with the first of them opening in March 2007: Favorites at Vineland.

Seven months later, a second Favorites (‘at Woodbridge’) opened in Fords, with two more opening (at Toms River and Gloucester Township) over the following seven years. July 2012 also brought the first Winners OTB, situated in Bayonne.


OTB parlors that deal exclusively in thoroughbred events can currently be found in Grantville, Bensalem and Erie. There are three other OTB locations in the state that deal in Harness races: Chester, Washington and Wilkes-Barre, while there are three ‘turf clubs’ in – or near-to – Philadelphia.

West Virginia

The Hollywood Casino (Charles Town) is the home of the West Virginia Breeders’ Classic, and a hotbed of thoroughbred wagering. Over 240 racing dates form its calendar across the whole year in West Virginia.

Meanwhile, the Mountaineer Casino Racetrack in Chester offers just over 200 race dates per calendar year, though the venue itself holds just one race in that time: namely, the West Virginia Derby.

Betting in Indiana

There are currently two OTB locations: The first of these is the well-renowned Hoosier Park in Anderson, which is currently considered the fourth-best thoroughbred OTB parlor in the United States.

The Indiana Downs Racetrack in Shelbyville is also a worthy OTB venue, boasting $35m worth of resources, in a facility that is just 15-20 minutes away from Indianapolis.

For more information, see this page on Indiana’s betting laws.

Best online betting sites for Breeders’ Cup

While some people placing a bet will value longer odds over special offers (or vice-versa), there are certain sites that are notably favored in particular territories.

Legal betting options in the US (Online)


The ever-popular FanDuel, via its association with horse racing partner TVG, has also made a huge impact in the NJ region, and already stands as the go-to source of extremely generous offers and, occasionally, some truly gargantuan payouts.


BetAmerica’s content on thoroughbred horse racing is known to be clear and concise, and with over 300 tracks covered across multiple continents, the range of choice is also a major strength of BetAmerica. Daily handicapping contests, and the ability to edit antepost picks almost up to the starting bell, are also a unique selling point.

Twin Spires

With a presence on several continents, Twin Spires is a leading authority on horse racing and the latest odds surrounding the most prestigious events. One of Twin Spires’ most prominent USPs is the flexibility of its live streaming interface (TwinSpires TV) which enables viewers to watch races in real time, and switch between the wagering page and the live stream across separate windows/tabs.

There are three modes available:

In the TV interface, priority is given to the live stream, with the wagering page put inside a smaller separate window. The Express & Pro layout instead favors the wagering page over the live feed, and displays the most niche areas of betting, making it the go-to mode of betting professionals and traders. Meanwhile, Classic mode is more balanced, with prominence given mainly to handicapping tools in the wagering window.

Legal betting options in the UK

The legality of horse racing has always extended across the whole of the United Kingdom, and currently generates billions for the British economy.

Betting shops (or ‘bookies’) are plentiful, despite not being formally legalized until 1960. Thus, while West Virginia and Indiana may currently have just two OTB parlors each, any given high street in the UK will almost certainly have that number of betting shops – at the very least.

As with the rest of the world, however, online betting has become the number one way to wager in the UK, and two are particularly worthy of mention:


There is a huge range of bookmakers open to users in the UK, but for English-speaking expats from Canada or Australia, bet365 is undoubtedly a go-to solution, with that particular provider available to all three regions.

Payout rates consistently range between 86% and 95% on this site, with an average of just over 90%. On top of covering over 200 racing venues for betting purposes, live streams of races in the UK and Ireland are also available, though each race requires a minimum bet in order to view in real time.

The mobile app also allows accumulator selections to be modified or erased up until the start of the race.


Formed only in 2006, Betway – like all other reputable online betting sites – is multi-platform, and has a very generous welcome offer that is open to both new users. Meanwhile, its existing pool of 2m+ loyal fans benefits from the HorseFinder tool, which provides the most competitive, up-to-date odds and high-value prices on the market

Legal betting options in Canada

It is legal to bet on the Breeders’ Cup in Canada. Many bookmakers available in Europe (such as bet365) are also active north of the USCAN border, but as a site native to Canada, Sports Interaction is a leading light when it comes to betting on the Breeders’ Cup. It offers a generous $200 free bonus, with the site itself boasting a five-star rating on several respected comparison sites across Canada.

Popular types of bet

There are a number of ways that people make good profits at the racetrack, OTB parlor, or online:

Single bet

Known in some regions as an ‘on the nose’ bet, the horse simply has to win in order to yield a payout. This is the only option available if there are less than five runners in a race, though these can still be included in multiple bets/accumulators.

‘Place only’ bet

Ensuring less risk, but less reward than a single, ‘place’ bets require a horse to attain a minimum finish in order to yield a payout for the bettor. How high up the official classification table the horse must finish depends on how many runners there are:

  • 5-7 – 1st or 2nd (potential payout [PP] reduced by ¾)
  • 8+ – 1st-3rd (PP reduced by ?)
  • Handicap (12-15 runners) – 1st-3rd (PP reduced by ¾)
  • Handicap (15+ runners) – 1st-4th (PP reduced by ¾)

Reductions are a fraction of the potential payout that would be received from a single (‘on the nose’) bet. The merchant’s payout rate (e.g. 93%) should be unaffected, regardless of whether a single or a place only wager is tendered.

Each-way bet

Half of the stake goes on a horse to win, while the other half is wagered on a horse to be ‘placed’. The stake amount is automatically doubled, but if the horse wins, then both stakes are returned together along with their respective payout amounts.

Accumulator / Multiple bet

An accumulator is a series of single bets grouped together. All bets in that group must prevail to claim a payout, and naturally, the rewards can be very great. For most experienced horse racing bettors, Doubles (two horses), Trebles (three) and Four-fold are the most popular types of multiple bet.


Certain types of ‘multiple’ do not require not all of the selections to prevail for a payout. If willing to automatically multiply the stake, bettors can increase their chances of winning the bet.


A minimum of two selections from three must prevail. Stake is multiplied by the number of possible winning lines (four).

Each Way Trixie (E/W Trixie)

As with the regular Trixie, but the stake multiplier is x8 as the number of win methods has doubled.


Like the regular Trixie, two of three selections must prevail, but there are seven winning lines (for a x7 stake multiplier).


Here, the bettor makes four selections, of which only two must come through. The stake is automatically multiplied by 11 given the increased number of winning lines.

Lucky 15/31/63 and ‘Goliath’

With multiples that have the ‘Lucky’ prefix, only ONE bet of a certain number (four, five or six) must win for a payout:

  • 1/4 selections | Stake multiplier/Win lines: x15
  • 1/5 selections | x31
  • 1/6 selections | x63

Goliath bets are also seen as an emphatic form of ‘Lucky’ bets. Here, two selections out of eight must come through, and with 247 winning lines (also the stake multiplier), it is seen as a daring feat that puts a bettor’s knowledge to the ultimate test!

Breeders’ Cup Odds

With November’s showpiece weekend of racing looming ever closer, the odds for the 2021 Breeders’ Cup are currently as follows:

1Essential Quality TBD2/1
2Knicks Go TBD3/1
3Medina Spirit TBD5/1
4Hot Rod Charlie TBD6/1
5Art Collector TBD8/1
6Max Player TBD8/1
7Stiletto Boy TBD30/1
8Express Train TBDTBD
9Tripoli TBDTBD

All of these odds are subject to change, with potential scratches (or other unforeseeable withdrawals) also unaccounted for. However, there are some clear frontrunners that are favored to win the Classic.

Breeders’ Cup Predictions & Picks

More in-depth predictions and picks will be posted here closer to the time of the event.

Past Winners

Only one horse in the entire history of the Classic has won it twice, with Tiznow doing so in successive years (2000 & 2001). His jockey at the time, Chris McCarron, is also a five-time winner of the Classic, with that number standing as a joint record alongside Jerry Bailey.

Bailey is also particularly notable for having once endured a ten-year wait (between 1995 and 2005) for a Classic win.

Meanwhile, the accolade of the biggest winning margin is shared by two horses: Volponi (in 2002) and American Pharaoh (2015). The latter is notable for completing the ‘Grand Slam’ of thoroughbred events, winning the Classic on top of the ‘Triple Crown’ just before retiring.

Who was the fastest horse to win the Breeders’ Cup?

Only eight horses have recorded a sub-2m time in the history of the event, with Authentic (in 2020) being the most recent horse to achieve this feat. A sub 1:59 time has yet to be recorded, but with an official time of 1:59:02 in 2004, Ghostzapper (ridden by Javier Castellano) is the fastest winner of a Breeders’ Cup Classic to date.

The Road to the Breeders’ Cup

The lineup of each Breeders’ Cup race is determined predominantly by a number of races (currently 86 in total) that make up the Breeders’ Cup Challenge. This is a conglomeration of races across the world, spanning several continents.

Winners of these races automatically have the opportunity to enter their appropriate division at the Breeders’ Cup, but for various reasons, not all of them will end up taking it.

For those that do not qualify via the Challenge, the following criteria are used to grant horses a shot at a win in the Breeders’ Cup.

  • Points gained by the horse/jockey from graded stakes performance during the year.
  • Marks awarded by a judging panel in niche performance-related criteria.

How the Event Runs

As ‘flat’ races, with no obstacles or fences, every race at the Breeders’ Cup is a judgement of a horse’s stamina and speed, and nothing else. This is a full list of the races, and post times, for the 2021 Breeders’ Cup:

At the Breeders’ Cup, there are two types of surface – dirt and turf. All races held on turf have this affixed to its name.

Dirt offers more in the way of speed, and is often a far less predictable surface due to its inherent nature. Turf, meanwhile, offers a much wider range of ‘goings’, and depending on the conditions, can be almost as dry as dirt or close to the softness of clay. This is of paramount importance to experts, as many horses thrive on harder/softer turf.

How does the Breeders’ Cup Classic Run?

Much like the ever-popular Kentucky Derby, the showpiece ‘Classic’ is open to three-year old thoroughbreds, though that is a minimum age here, rather than a specific one as it is in the Kentucky Derby.

History of the Breeders’ Cup

The brainchild of John R. Gaines, the Breeders’ Cup was inaugurated in 1984 as the new designated final championship event of the thoroughbred racing year in North America. There has always been an agenda to include horses from stables across the world,

Races held at the Breeders’ Cup are operated by Breeders’ Cup Limited (estd. 1982). Its first 23 editions were single-day events, but this expanded to cover two days in 2007, and with the exception of the 1996 event (held in Toronto), the Breeders’ Cup has been consistently held on U.S soil.

In October 2009, the Breeders’ Cup broke new ground by signing simulcasting and licensing agreements with Betfair, which had bought the horse-racing network TVG nine months previously.

This move opened up the opportunity for 2.5m more bettors to wager, and made the event more of a commercial draw than ever before. The early 2010s saw the event break the $200m profit barrier, and after a very prosperous decade, the Breeders’ Cup has never been in a better place than it currently is.

Breeders' Cup FAQ

The next Breeders’ Cup will be held on 5-6 November 2021.

A maximum of 14 thoroughbred horses (12 in juvenile events) are permitted to start any race at the Breeders’ Cup.

Only one female horse has ever won the showpiece event, with Zenyatta making history in 2009, posting an official time of 2:00:32 at Santa Anita.

Depending on whether or not hospitality is sought, prices can vary from the $20 tickets that allows general admission to the Friday meeting alone to the $290 minimum that gets a seat in the Trackside Marquee at Santa Anita on the Friday meeting.


A 1.25-mile dirt track is a common characteristic that the Classic shares with the Kentucky Derby, and as such, a winning time of three seconds either side of 2m:02s is typical for this event.