Some basic tips for betting on horse racing, Kentucky Derby

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Picking a horse to win the Kentucky Derby is easy.

Placing a bet is as close as a cellphone, tablet, computer or even a smart TV with internet access. But for the novice or inexperienced bettor, making a wager that pays off with a profit can be a challenge: Beginners need to know how to place a bet, who to bet on and where to place the bet.

Off-track simulcasting in more than two dozen states offers a convenient alternative to going to the track. Of course, there’s always the actual experience of walking up to the betting window at the track.

That’s a good option if you can’t get to Churchill Downs, where 150,000 spectators are expected for Saturday’s 145th Derby and hoping to get some action on 4-1 favorite Omaha Beach .

Minimum bets vary from state to state, but here are some things to consider when placing a wager:

THE BASICS

The obvious wager is betting on a horse to win. Just pick one. But after that, it can get a little trickier.

Bets can be made on a horse to win, place (finish first or second) or show (finish first, second or third) – or all three with an across-the-board wager. An exacta involves correctly picking the first two horses in order, or in any order with a combination known as a box bet (1-2 or 2-1, for example).

Superfecta bets (picking the first four horses) are also available, as are exotic wagers such as Pick 3 and Pick 6 that requires choosing the winning horses in multiple races. A Pick 3 and a Pick 6 are the hardest to predict, leading to rollover jackpots that can be very lucrative. But they probably are best left to more seasoned bettors.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK

Determining who to bet on can start with a daily racing program that lists entrants for each race and information including odds, jockey, trainer, silks, saddle towel color and past performances. They can be purchased at the track, simulcast venue or a track’s website.

It will initially seem like a lot of numbers and statistics, but tracks and web sites offer instructions on how to read and understand a program. One benefit to being at the track is seeing how the horse looks in the paddock or during the pre-race parade. Appearance and temperament are important, so keep an eye on horse’s ears to see how engaged the horse is with the atmosphere.

And there’s nothing wrong with playing a hunch, since after all, it’s just a gamble.

ONLINE BETTING

After learning what to bet and who to bet on, the next step is placing the bet.

Numerous websites such as TwinSpires.com – Churchill Downs’ online service – Equibase.com and TVG.com offer betting at racetracks worldwide. Wagering is free, but it will require setting up a subscription and require banking information to place bets and deposit winnings. Those services even provide live streaming and replays.

Various online sites offer betting tips along with news and updates. It’s the most convenient way to bet on marquee races such as the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes as the Triple Crown season unfolds. It’s also a good option for other marquee races during the year such as the Travers Stakes and season-ending Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

PARI-MUTUEL BETTING-SPORTS BETTING

When wagering, the longer the odds the bigger the payoff.

In horse racing, the odds are not finalized until the race begins. That is known as pari-mutuel betting. That’s different than sports betting in which bettors get the odds that are available at the time they make their bet.

New Jersey tracks also offer exchange wagering for horse races, which differs from pari-mutuel betting. Exchange wagering matches and locks in the odds at the time a bet is placed and also allows betting during the race.

And while sports betting expanded in several states last year after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states could legalize sports gambling, it does not include horse racing. Even in most states that have legalized sports betting, placing a bet on horse racing is limited to the tracks as the sport examines how to compete and benefit from new legislation.

KNOW YOUR LIMIT

As rewarding as cashing in a winning bet can be, the desire to win more or recoup some inevitable losses can get intoxicating – and risky. When novice or inexperienced bettors make wagers on horse racing, it should be for entertainment purposes and not income.

Irad Ortiz sets single-season record with 77th stakes win

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NEW YORK – Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. earned his record 77th single-season North American stakes victory when he guided Dr B to victory in the $200,000 Go for Wand at Aqueduct.

The 30-year-old native of Puerto Rico broke the old mark of 76 set by the late Hall of Fame rider Garrett Gomez in 2007.

“This is great. Amazing feeling,” said Ortiz, Jr., who won the Eclipse Award as outstanding jockey from 2018-20. “Gomez did it in 2007 and he was a great rider, one of the best in the game. I’m so happy just to be a part of this. I love this sport.”

Ortiz Jr. won the Belmont Stakes with Mo Donegal in June to go with Breeders’ Cup victories in the Juvenile, Filly & Mare Sprint and Sprint. He also earned nine other Grade 1 wins in New York, including Life Is Good in the Woodward and Whitney and Nest in the Alabama and Coaching Club Oaks. He won riding titles at Belmont’s spring-summer meet and Saratoga’s summer meet.

Ortiz Jr. leads North American riders with 304 overall victories this year. His purse earnings totaled over $35.8 million going into Saturday’s races, which already surpassed his single-season record of $34.1 million in 2019.

Appeals court strikes down federal horseracing rules act

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NEW ORLEANS — Congress unconstitutionally gave too much power to a nonprofit authority it created in 2020 to develop and enforce horseracing rules, a federal appeals court in New Orleans ruled Friday.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act, or HISA, is “facially unconstitutional.”

The authority created by the act was meant to bring uniform policies and enforcement to horseracing amid doping scandals and racetrack horse deaths. But the 5th Circuit – in two rulings issued Friday – ruled in favor of opponents of the act in lawsuits brought by horseracing associations and state officials in Texas, Louisiana and West Virginia.

The Federal Trade Commission has the ultimate authority to approve or reject HISA regulations, but it can’t modify them. And the authority can reject proposed modifications.

Three 5th Circuit judges agreed with opponents of the act – including the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and similar groups in multiple states – that the setup gave too much power to the nongovernmental authority and too little to the FTC.

“A cardinal constitutional principle is that federal power can be wielded only by the federal government. Private entities may do so only if they are subordinate to an agency,” Judge Stuart Kyle Duncan wrote for the panel that ruled in the Texas case.

The same panel, which also included judges Carolyn Dineen King and Kurt Engelhardt, cited the Texas ruling in a separate order in favor of horseracing interests and regulators challenging HISA in a different case.

The chair of the horseracing authority’s board of directors said it would ask for further court review. Friday’s ruling could be appealed to the full 5th Circuit court of the Supreme Court.

“If today’s ruling were to stand, it would not go into effect until January 10, 2023 at the earliest,” Charles Scheeler said in an email. “We are focused on continuing our critical work to protect the safety and integrity of Thoroughbred racing, including the launch of HISA’s Anti-Doping and Medication Control Program on January 1, 2023.”

The ruling was criticized by Marty Irby, executive director of the Animal Wellness Action organization. “Over the course of three Congresses, the most brilliant legal minds on Capitol Hill addressed the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act’s constitutionality and ultimately decided that the Federal Trade Commission’s limited oversight was sufficient,” Irby said in an email.

Among the subjects covered by the authority’s rules and enforcement were jockey safety (including a national concussion protocol), the riding crop and how often riders can use it during a race, racetrack accreditation, and the reporting of training and veterinary records.

Animal rights groups, who supported the law, pointed to scandals in the industry involving medication and the treatment of horses.

Duncan wrote that in declaring HISA unconstitutional, “we do not question Congress’s judgment about problems in the horseracing industry. That political call falls outside our lane.”

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, hailed the ruling on Twitter, calling HISA a “federal takeover of Louisiana horse racing.”