how many places paid in horse racing

In horse racing, the number of places paid out depends on the type of race and the rules set by the track. In most races, the first, second, and third place finishers receive a payout. In some races, fourth place may also be paid out. In handicap races, where horses are assigned different weights based on their past performance, a larger number of places may be paid out, such as the first four or five finishers. The payouts for each place are determined by the total amount wagered on the race and the number of tickets sold on each horse.

Place Payouts in Thoroughbred Racing

In horse racing, a place bet is a wager that the horse you choose will finish in one of the top three positions (first, second, or third) in a race. The odds of winning a place bet are higher than the odds of winning a win bet (a bet that the horse you choose will finish first), but the payouts are also lower.

The number of places that are paid in a race varies depending on the track and the type of race. In most races, only the first two or three horses are paid a place. However, in some races, such as stakes races and graded stakes races, more places are paid. The number of places that are paid is usually announced before the race.

Payouts for Place Bets

  • First place: 100%
  • Second place: 50%
  • Third place: 33%

For example, if you bet $2 on a horse to place and it finishes second, you will win $1. If your horse finishes third, you will win $0.67.

Table of Place Payouts

The following table shows the place payouts for different types of races:

Race typeNumber of places paid
Maiden claiming2
Graded stakes5

Exotic Betting

Exotic bets, which require selecting multiple horses to finish in a specific order or within a certain range of positions, offer higher payouts but also come with increased risk. In exotic betting, the number of places paid varies depending on the type of bet and the number of horses in the race.

Place Payouts

In horse racing, the “place” position refers to the second-place finisher. While in some cases, only the winning horse receives a payout, place bets typically pay out to the top two or three finishers. The specific number of places paid is determined by the track and the type of bet being placed.

Common Place Payout Options

  • Win: Only the winning horse receives a payout.
  • Place: The top two finishers receive a payout.
  • Show: The top three finishers receive a payout.
  • Win and Place: A combination bet that pays out if the selected horse wins or finishes second.
  • Place and Show: A combination bet that pays out if the selected horse finishes second or third.

Payout Table

Bet TypeNumber of Horses in the RaceNumber of Places Paid
WinAny number1
PlaceLess than 72
Place7 or more3
ShowAny number3

Impact of Track Conditions on Place Payouts

Track conditions can significantly impact the number of places paid in horse racing. Here’s how:

Wet Tracks:

  • Slower running times, leading to tighter finishes.
  • Increased chances of upsets, as front-runners may struggle on wet surfaces.
  • More places paid, as the margin of victory is often narrower.

Dry Tracks:

  • Faster running times, resulting in more decisive wins.
  • Favored horses tend to perform better on dry tracks.
  • Fewer places paid, as the winning margin is often larger.
Track ConditionNumber of Places PaidFactors
Wet4-6Slow times, tight finishes, upsets
Good3-4Moderate times, reasonable margins
Fast2-3Fast times, decisive wins, favored horses

Historical Evolution of Place Payouts in Horse Racing

Determining the number of places paid in horse racing has undergone significant evolution over the years. Initially, place payouts were limited to the top two finishers in a race. However, as the sport’s popularity and participation increased, the need for expanded place payouts became evident.

Early Place Payouts


  • 1800s: Only the winner received a payout.
  • Mid-1800s: Second place (or “place”) introduced in some races.

Expansion of Place Payouts


  • Late 1800s: Third place (or “show”) added to payouts in major races.
  • Early 1900s: Four places (win, place, show, and fourth) became common.
  • 1940s: Five places (win, place, show, fourth, and fifth) introduced in some races.

Modern Place Payouts

In the modern era of horse racing, the number of places paid has generally settled around 6, with some variations depending on the race and track:

1st (Win)Highest payout
2nd (Place)Second-highest payout
3rd (Show)Third-highest payout
4th (Fourth)Fourth-highest payout
5th (Fifth)Fifth-highest payout
6th (Sixth)Sixth-highest payout (sometimes available in larger races)

The specific number of places paid in a race is typically determined by the race’s conditions, the number of starters, and the track’s rules and traditions.

Thanks for sticking with me through this wild ride! I hope you’ve learned a thing or two about the fascinating world of horse racing and its payouts. Remember, if you’re looking for more equestrian excitement, I’ll be back in the saddle soon with fresh insights and thrilling tales. In the meantime, feel free to saddle up and gallop through the archives of my previous articles. Until next time, keep your bets close to your vest and your heart filled with the thunderous hooves of these majestic steeds.