how often does the second favourite win in horse racing

The exact frequency of the second favourite winning in horse racing can vary depending on factors such as the number of horses in the race, the quality of the field, and the betting patterns. However, available data indicates that the second favourite wins a significant number of races. For example, in a study of over 100,000 races, the second favourite won approximately 18% of the time. This suggests that the second favourite has a strong chance of winning, particularly in races with a large number of participants.

Winning Chances of the Second Favourite

In the thrilling world of horse racing, the second favourite is often a strong contender, trailing closely behind the top pick. But just how often do they emerge victorious?

Factors Influencing Second-Favourite Success

  • Race Distance: Over shorter distances, the second favourite’s chances increase as speed is crucial.
  • Track Conditions: On soft tracks, the second favourite may struggle if they prefer firmer ground.
  • Field Size: In smaller fields, the second favourite has a higher probability of winning due to fewer challengers.
  • Jockey and Trainer: Experienced jockeys and trainers associated with the second favourite improve their chances.
  • Previous Performance: A consistent record in similar races bodes well for the second favourite.

Historical Data: A Look at the Numbers

YearSecond Favourite WinsWin Percentage
2022 (as of August)10213.8%

As indicated by the table, the second favourite has historically won around 13-14% of races. While not as common as the first favourite’s victory, it’s still a respectable winning percentage.


The second favourite in horse racing has a chance of winning influenced by various factors. While the odds may not be as favourable as the first favourite, their success rate is significant enough to consider them a contender. Careful analysis of the race factors can help bettors make informed decisions.

Statistics by Race Distance

The probability of the second favorite winning a horse race varies depending on the distance of the race. Here’s a breakdown of the statistics:

  • Sprint Races (up to 6 furlongs): Second favorites have a higher chance of winning in sprint races, with a win rate of around 25%.
  • Middle-Distance Races (7 to 12 furlongs): In middle-distance races, the win rate of second favorites drops slightly to around 20%.
  • Long-Distance Races (13 furlongs or more): The win rate of second favorites in long-distance races is typically lower, at around 15%. This is because stamina plays a more significant role in longer races, giving an advantage to horses with better staying power.
Race DistanceWin Rate of Second Favorites
Sprint Races (up to 6 furlongs)25%
Middle-Distance Races (7 to 12 furlongs)20%
Long-Distance Races (13 furlongs or more)15%

It’s important to note that these statistics are averages and can vary from race to race. Factors such as the quality of the competition, the jockey’s skill, and the horse’s form can influence the outcome of a race.

Jockey and Trainer Analysis

When analyzing the probability of a second favorite winning a horse race, it’s essential to consider the jockey and trainer’s records. Skilled jockeys and trainers have a better chance of guiding their horses to victory. Here’s a closer look at their impact:

Jockey Analysis

  • Winning Percentage: Jockeys with a high winning percentage have a better chance of winning races, including with second favorites.
  • Experience: Experienced jockeys have a better understanding of race dynamics and can make crucial decisions to improve their horse’s chances.
  • Course Form: Jockeys who have a good record at a particular racecourse can leverage their knowledge of the track to their advantage.

Trainer Analysis

  • Stable Success: Trainers with a successful stable have a higher probability of preparing their horses well for races.
  • Previous Performance: Trainers who have previously won with second favorites have a better chance of repeating their success.
  • Horse Preparation: Trainers responsible for preparing horses in peak condition increase their chances of winning.
Jockey’s Winning PercentageTrainer’s Stable Success (Number of Wins)Probability of Second Favorite Winning
Above 20%Over 50Very High
Below 15%Less than 25Low

By considering these factors, bettors can make more informed decisions about the probability of a second favorite winning a horse race.

Historical Trends

Over the last century or so, the second favorite has won in horse racing with an average frequency of 20-25%. This percentage may vary depending on the type of race, the quality of the field, and the betting odds. For example, in major stakes races with a strong field of horses, the second favorite may have a lower chance of winning than in a smaller race with a weaker field.

There are a few reasons why the second favorite doesn’t win more often. One reason is that the favorite is usually the horse that has the best chance of winning, based on its past performances and other factors. Another reason is that the second favorite is often bet on more heavily than other horses in the race, which can drive up its odds and make it less likely to win.

Case Studies

Here are a few case studies of races in which the second favorite won:

  • In the 2015 Kentucky Derby, American Pharoah won as the favorite, while Firing Line, the second favorite, finished second.
  • In the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic, Accelerate won as the favorite, while Gun Runner, the second favorite, finished second.
  • In the 2019 Dubai World Cup, Thunder Snow won as the second favorite, while Gronkowski, the favorite, finished third.
RaceYearWinnerSecond Favorite
Kentucky Derby2015American PharoahFiring Line
Breeders’ Cup Classic2018AccelerateGun Runner
Dubai World Cup2019Thunder SnowGronkowski

These case studies show that the second favorite can win in any type of race, even against a strong field of horses. However, it is important to remember that the second favorite is not always the best bet. When betting on a horse race, it is important to consider all of the factors involved, including the horse’s past performances, the field, and the odds.

Well, there you have it, folks! The odds of the second-favorite winning a horse race are not as cut-and-dried as you might think. So, if you’re betting on the ponies, keep in mind that anything can happen and don’t be afraid to take a chance on the underdog. Thanks for reading, and we hope you’ll visit us again soon for more insights into the fascinating world of horse racing!