US Horse Racing – Legal Racing Sites & How to Bet Online
Horse racing in the United States is one of the biggest spectator sports in the country. However, the gambling business in America is even bigger when it comes to horse racing, an industry which continues to gallop on at a rapid pace.
Horse racing originated in the state of New York back in 1665 and has since grown into a gigantic industry where you’ll find grandstands which can easily host more than 100,000 spectators.
In this all-inclusive guide, we will take an in-depth look at everything you need to know about USA horse racing. This includes the best horse racing sites accepting US bettors, where you can enjoy an endless variety of betting opportunities, along with whether or not betting on horses is legal in each of the 50 states.
We will also take a closer look at the different types of horse races that take place across America each year and give you valuable insight into the different types of wagers you can take advantage of in the country. We will conclude our comprehensive guide with the biggest horse racing events in America along with a brief history of US horse racing.
Best US Horse Racing Sites
To assist you in finding a new virtual home for all your sports betting requirements, we decided to gather a short, but efficient, list of the best online sportsbooks which specialize in horse racing within the United States. Each of the recommended websites we list in this section ranks highly in terms of reliability, ease of navigation, security, customer service and promotional material.
Our team of industry experts have also analyzed the different types of odds that are presented for each horse race to ensure they are competitive and aligned with the rest of the betting industry.
If you are an avid bettor who enjoys betting online, we highly recommend that you register with several sites. This will give you the unique opportunity to shop for the best lines, allowing you to make the biggest profit possible should you have a winning bet.
It’s absolutely free to sign up with any of our recommended sites and it will be hugely beneficial in the long run. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the best horse racing sites that are available in the United States.
TVG is an immensely popular horse racing site providing legal and licensed betting on a wide variety of horse racing events across the United States. Once you are fully registered, you’ll be treated to more than 150 different race tracks in the US along with a variety of tracks situated around the world. The site allows you to easily place bets on loads of upcoming races across the globe along with plenty of betting opportunities at local racetracks as well.
You will also be able to take advantage of daily news updates, commentary provided by industry professionals, and handicapping tools to further enrich your online betting experience. The site impresses with a two-part welcome package that are targeted towards newly registered bettors.
You will initially be awarded with a $20 no deposit bonus followed by a 100% welcome bonus up to a maximum of $100. Please don’t forget to use the bonus code ‘WELCOME20’ before making your initial deposit.
TVG further impresses with mobile sports betting app on iOS devices along with a mobile-friendly site for Android users. Both the TVG betting app and mobile site come equipped with a series of innovative features to make your online betting experience as convenient and flexible as humanly possible.
You will also have no issues funding your account thanks to a brilliant selection of payment methods that are both safe and secure. Lastly, you will also appreciate the fact that TVG offers an outstanding support desk that are always willing to help, regardless of the query or request you might throw at them.
BetAmerica is considered one of the largest online horse race betting sites in the United States, offering real money wagers on horse racing and greyhounds.
The site also comes equipped with an online casino and poker room for added convenience.
The website provides a sophisticated and easy-to-use interface along with plenty of innovative features on both the desktop and mobile platforms to appeal to newcomers and betting veterans alike.
Once registered, you’ll gain access to more than 200 different racetracks from around the world, providing all the betting types you’ll find in person at the racetrack itself.
The wagers you make online are combined with the wagers at the racetrack which is a very appealing aspect to BetAmerica. The site also comes equipped with live streaming capabilities and dedicated mobile apps to ensure you never miss out on the action, regardless of where you might be.
Newly registered customers can look forward to a 100% welcome package up to a maximum of $100 on their initial deposits, while existing players will be treated to cashback offers, free bets, and more.
You will also find a wonderful mobile app for iOS users along with a remarkable mobile site with provides a reliable, uncluttered, and smooth betting experience in the palm of your hands.
The online sports betting site offered by TwinSpires is reliable, trustworthy, and truly sophisticated while offering everything you need when it comes to placing a bet on horse racing. Named after the prestigious racetrack located in Kentucky, TwinSpires is the official site for the renowned Churchill Downs company who is also the owner of the world-famous Kentucky Derby.
The site comes equipped with an extensive range of horse races on both a local and international scale. For instance, you’ll find horse racing action in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Ireland, Australia, Sweden, New Zealand and even in Dubai.
Once registered, you’ll be introduced to three different platforms, such as the Classic, the Express & Pro, and TwinSpires TV. Every platform provides something different and unique for online betting enthusiasts, ranging from simplistic layouts that are easy to understand and follow to more complex and advanced betting layouts along with full HD streaming capabilities. Newly registered bettors on the site will be welcomed by a unique welcome package. If you can bet $500 within three days you’ll be awarded with a $100 welcome bonus. What’s quite attractive about this offer is that the bonus will not be tied to any wagering requirements which means you can cash it in immediately after receiving it.
TwinSpires further impresses with a fantastic range of payment methods along with a desktop version and a mobile platform for more flexibility while you are away from home. The mobile version of the site also comes equipped with a host of innovative features and is essentially a mirror image of its desktop counterpart which means you won’t have any trouble finding what you need in a matter of seconds.
Is Horse Betting Legal in the US?
Betting on horse races online in America is legal in most states across the country. Both greyhound racing and horse racing received special exemptions from the anti-gambling act that was passed in 2006 by the federal government. There are a handful of states that decided to opt out of online horse betting. However, most citizens in the United States are welcome to bet on horses online.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at popular states where horse betting is legal and thriving.
- New Jersey: New Jersey is considered the leader when it comes to online betting. It was one of the first states to implement and legalize online gambling thanks to efforts of lawmakers and state voters that ensured sports betting was no longer illegal on a federal level. Without New Jersey, the online betting landscape in the country would have been completely different today.
- Pennsylvania: The online gambling and betting scene has rapidly expanded in the Keystone State of late. In 2017, major gaming reforms occurred that allowed the state to provide brand-new forms of gambling which were previously unavailable to its residents. Today, you’ll have access to a wide range of online sports betting sites that welcome bets on a plethora of horse racing events across the globe.
- West Virginia: The Mountain State can be seen as a gambling-friendly state with loads of gaming options for citizens in an online environment and in-person. You will be greeted by 4 racetrack casinos, state lottery options, a sportsbook in every casino, and a historic hotel-casino. The laws that passed in 2018 and 2018 legalized online poker, online casinos, and online sport betting both on desktop and mobile devices.
- Tennessee: The Volunteer State has more legal online betting options than land-based betting options. The state is extremely against gambling with no poker rooms, racetracks, or land-based casinos. However, the state does provide plenty of online betting options with fantasy sports and horse racing. In 2019, mobile sports betting was also legalized in the state for added convenience.
- California: The Golden State is the Holy Grail when it comes to online betting in the United States with a $2 trillion economy. Horse racing bettors in California are welcome to bet at any licensed and regulated site in the US and the states comes with 5 racetracks for added enjoyment.
- Indiana: The Hoosier State is another gambling-friendly state with plenty of options in both the real world and online environment to enjoy legal betting opportunities. Several casinos across the state have launched sportsbooks in 2019 and mobile sports betting is also legalized in the state.
- Michigan: The Wolverine State is home to a pari-mutuel horse racing track, three casinos in Detroit, and 23 tribal casinos spread across the state. You will also find plenty of online betting options in the state, ranging from skill games and fantasy sports to greyhound racing, horse racing, and lottery games. Online betting was legalized in 2018 and continues to thrive to this very day.
- New York: The Empire State is completely pro-gambling, allowing most forms of gambling online. This includes fantasy sports, greyhound wagering, and online horse betting. Almost all online betting states in the United States accept players from New York. In addition, sports betting is legal at tribal and commercial casinos in the state and sportsbooks have launched in 2019 at several casinos within the state itself.
States Where Horse Betting is Illegal
As previously mentioned there are a handful of states across America that do not allow online horse betting. If you are situated in any of the states listed below, we highly recommend that you visit a racetrack in person if the state offers racetracks, or alternatively you can visit a neighbouring state to place bets online.
The following states do not have legal horse race betting:
- South Carolina
- North Carolina
Types of Races in the United States
There are several types of horse racing events across the United States that primarily differ by distance, location, and exclusion and inclusion of obstacles. Below, you will find some of the most popular types of horse racing events that will assist you to better understand each of them before you place a bet.
Quarter Horse Races
As the name suggests, these horse races involve distances that stretch for a quarter of a mile. You will notice that American quarter horses will be bred specifically for such short distances and can easily reach speeds of around 55 miles per hour at full sprint. American Quarter Horses are currently the most popular breed in the US with more than 3 million registered.
Thoroughbred Horse Races
These horse races consists of thoroughbred horses that are specifically bred for this these type of racing events. When you hear thoroughbred racing, always remember that there are essentially two forms types of races that include thoroughbred horses, including thoroughbred flat horse races and thoroughbred horse jump racing.
Thoroughbred Flat Horse Races
This type of horse racing consists of flat tracks that are usually made up of synthetic material, turf, or dirt. This is undoubtedly the most renowned type of racing in America as all major races typically involve household names. For instance, the Belmont Stakes, Preakness Stakes, and Kentucky Derby are all Thoroughbred races. The races involve a distance of between 0.25 and 1.5 miles.
Thoroughbred Horse Jump Racing
This is the second form of thoroughbred racing is instead of a flat race, it consists of several obstacles that horses need to jump over during a race. The horses will also endure longer distances that range between 2 and 4.5 miles. Jump racers are often referred to as National Hunt racing or Steeplechase, depending on the style of course.
Standard Horse Races
When it comes to standard horse races, you will notice that it consists of Standardbred horses that race against each other. A Standardbred horse is typically used in harness style racing, or chariots if you will. These are extremely fast horses that can also be used for horse shows and pleasure riding.
Endurance Horse Races
Endurance racing takes everything to a brand-new level. As the name suggests, it incorporates extremely long distances. A typical endurance race will include distances of between 10 miles and 100 miles, depending on the race and the location. The Mongol Derby is currently the longest endurance horse race in the world with a jaw-dropping distance of 620 miles.
Arabian Horse Races
This is quite a rare form of horse racing in the US and you’ll struggle to find sites that offer betting opportunities on Arabian horse racing events. The race will consist of Arabian horses that have roots tracing back to the Middle East. These horses were specifically bred for stamina that can take them over very long distances, making them ideal for endurance racing.
Biggest USA Horse Racing Events
Even though you will come across a plethora of interesting races in the United Stated each year, there are essentially only a handful of major horse racing events that you should keep in mind as an online bettor. The Belmont Stakes, Preakness Stakes, and Kentucky Derby all combine to give you the Triple Crown Series. The other important horse race in America is the Breeder’s Cup that takes place at the end of each year.
The Triple Crown Series
The Triple Crown Series is regarded as the most highly sought-after award when it comes to horse racing in the United States. To successfully earn this prestigious honour, a single horse is required to win all three races that form part of the Triple Crown in a single year. This is an extremely rare feat that has only occurred a dozen times in the last century.
The Kentucky Derby
The Kentucky Derby is undoubtedly the most renowned horse racing events in the US. It’s the very first race that occurs in the Triple Crown Series which takes place on the first Saturday of May every single year. The racing events is hosted at the Churchill Downs which is situated in Louisville, Kentucky. The horse racing events was initially established back in 1875 and comes equipped with a 1.25 mile track on dirt.
The Preakness Stakes
The second race that forms part of the Triple Crown Series is the Preakness Stakes. The horse racing event occurs two weeks after the prestigious Kentucky Derby on the third Saturday of May. The horse racing event is hosted at the Pimlico Race Course that is located in Baltimore, Maryland. The racing event was initially established back in 1873 and comes equipped with a 1.18 mile track on dirt.
The Belmont Stakes
This horse racing event occurs five weeks after the prestigious Kentucky Derby and only three weeks after the glorious Preakness Stakes. The horse racing event is hosted at Belmont Park situated in Elmont, New York. This is regarded as the most challenging and longest race that forms part of the Triple Crown Series and is also the oldest of the three races. It was initially established back in 1867 and comes equipped with a 1.5 mile track on dirt.
The Breeders’ Cup
The Breeder’s Cup is held annually at various destinations across the United States and lasts for a period of two days. This special horse racing event is also known as the World Championship for Thoroughbreds with a prize pool that almost reaches $30 million.
Types of Horse Bets in the US
You will have a total of 11 different types of bets in the world of horse racing, regardless if you bet at a racetrack or online. Below, we included a short list of all horse race betting types to help you get familiar with each of them before you place your first bet online.
- Show Bet – The horse you selected needs to finish in the top 3 places.
- Place Bet – The horse you selected needs to either finish in first or second place.
- Win Bet – The horse you selected needs to finish in first place.
- Quinella – The horses you selected need to finish in first and second in either order.
- Exacta – The horses you selected need to finish in first and second in that order.
- Trifecta – The horses you selected need to finish in first, second, and third in that order.
- Superfecta – The horses you selected need to finish in first, second, third, and fourth place in that order.
- Daily Double – The horses your selected need to finish in first place in two successive races.
- Pick 3 – The horses you selected need to finish in first place for three successive races.
- Pick 4 – The horses you selected need to finish in first place for four successive races.
- Pick 6 – The horses you selected need to finish in first place for six successive races.
History of USA Horse Racing & Betting
Horse racing in America can be traced back to 1665 when the Newmarket racecourse was constructed on Long Island in Salisbury, New York. The colonial governor of the Empire State, Richard Nicolls, was present to successfully supervise the very first horse racing event in the US.
The American Stud Book began publication in 1868 and incorporated a list of Thoroughbred racing horses within the United States. This book managed to push forward the start of organized horse racing events within the country. When 1890 rolled around, there were over 300 racetracks across the US which led to the establishment of the American Jockey Club in 1894 due to the immense popularity behind the sport.
The American Jockey Club was a vital development when it came to horse racing in the country as it’s the breed registry for Thoroughbred horses within Puerto Rico, Canada, and the United States to this very day. The club also assists in connecting trainers, breeders, and owners with the primary goal of assisting to improve Thoroughbred racing within the country.
During the early 1900s, both federal and state governments began with a strong stance on anti-gambling which caused plenty of racetracks to shutter forever. The US horse racing industry underwent a massive blow and all major events did not run for several years when anit-gambling was it its peak. These laws almost wiped out the horse racing world in the US. However, in 1908 pari-mutuel betting was invented that allowed horse racing to take a turn for the better.
Pari-mutuel betting is essentially pool betting that is used for kai alai, greyhound racing, and horse race betting. When pari-mutuel betting was introduced to the United States, the popularity of horse racing quickly started to flourish again until WWII caused the entire industry to deflate again.
Once the war was over, the horse racing scene in the US didn’t impress with loads of popularity until horses started winning the prestigious Triple Crown Series on a frequent basis. Fortunately, two horses claimed victory at the Triple Crown Series in 1948 and 1946, which greatly assisted the sport to flourish again. Horse racing in the US received another spike in popularity during the 1970s when three horses managed to win the Triple Crown Series.