Understanding Horse Racing Odds

Horse racing is one of the greatest modern sports with a global fanbase that continues to grow every year. It is also one of the most interesting sports that remains highly popular with bettors of all levels.

Yet odds aren’t the easiest thing to get your head around. In terms of horse racing odds, it can be especially complicated. This is because these odds are pretty fluid and can change drastically depending on the events that occur on any given day.

This is a world away from the fixed betting odds in a casino, for instance, where you pretty much know exactly what you are dealing with.

Fortunately, we’ve put together this easy-to-understand guide for you so that you can better understand what horse racing odds are and why they matter so much. So whether you are a veteran or a complete newbie to the betting world, we’ve got you covered.

What Are Odds In Horse Racing?

Source: pexels.com

Simply put, odds are the mathematical representation of exactly how likely a particular outcome is to happen. With horse racing betting odds, it is the likelihood of a particular horse winning a race.

They also inform you of how much money you will receive if you were to win your bet. Once you understand what you are dealing with, it is pretty easy for you to assess your overall chances of winning on the outcome of specific events. You can then look at – and understand – Breeder’s Cup Odds on TVG.com.

What Do They Mean?

Let’s say that you are at a racecourse and a horse is listed at 10-1 odds. If you are completely new to the world of betting you likely have no idea what this means. Don’t worry – that’s why we’re here to help!

Understanding what horse racing odds mean is much easier than it seems. In layman’s terms, odds are the return you can expect to receive if the horse that you have bet on is successful and ranks according to the type of bet you have made.

Odds accurately reflect the total monetary amount that you might have bet on a horse. The general rule goes as follows: the higher the amount of money you invest into a horse, the shorter the overall odds will be.

If horse racing odds are showcased in the form of 10-1, 7-2, and so on, it showcases the amount of profit versus the invested amount. This means odds of 10-1, for example, mean that for every $1 invested, the punter will get a $10 profit in turn. So when you bet $1 on a successful bet, the return will be $11.

How To Read Horse Racing Odds

Source: racenet.com.au

The Morning Line

These are the odds that are placed on the horses by the track’s handicapper once the race program is published but before the wagering begins. They are typically published in the racing form, the program, or in your sportsbook online.

However, in today’s horse racing world, the morning line odds are rarely used as they change considerably once bets are placed.

Changing Odds

These odds will either be at the track on the tote board or in your online sportsbook. They will change depending on the number of people betting on the race until post-time.

Race Favorites

To put it simply, every race has a favorite. This is the horse that is most likely to win the race. If more than one horse shares these odds, it may be labeled with “JF” which means joint favorite.


Probability is one of the most important key skills you need to choose a winning horse. It is usually presented as a percentage and is generally calculated by adding both sides of a single fractional odd and then dividing 100 by that number.

If a horse has 4/1 odds you will work out 4 + 1 = 5, then 100 / 5 = 20. With this figure, a horse has a 20% probability of winning and 80% of not winning. These are pretty good horse racing odds!

Fractional Horse Racing Odds

These are some of the most famous horse racing odds and are often labeled as the easiest to understand, too. They are represented by a fraction such as 3/1. Here, the number on the left signifies the amount you could win while the right number represents your initial stake.

With 9/1 odds, if you lay down a $1 bet, you will receive nine times that amount in addition to your initial bet. Again, the general rule is that the higher the difference is between the two numbers in the fractional odds, the greater the overall return!

Source: pinnacle.com

Decimal Horse Racing Odds

Fractional odds are the dominant horse racing odds but these are also becoming increasingly popular – especially with online-based bookmakers. Like fractional odds, you must have a working understanding of how these odds work in case you need to use them in the future or encounter them at a later date.

These odds represent the amount of money you will receive from your bet, with the initial bet already included in the number. If you had an even money bet – where the reward is equal to the stake – it would have a decimal value of 2.0. Here, the $1 state and winning of $ are represented in the decimal odd.

You can work out your return by subtracting one from the number and then multiplying the remainder by your stake. If you had odds of 12.0 with a $1 stake you will do 12 – 1 = 11, then calculate 11 x 1, with your final return working out to be $11.


Horse racing odds aren’t too difficult to understand once you can get your head around the basics. As long as you are familiar with the lingo and also know what your limits are in terms of how much you can spend on a bet for a specific horse, you should find yourself betting with no issues in little to no time!