what does sp mean in horse racing

In horse racing, SP refers to the starting price of a horse, which is the price at which it is available to bet on just before the race begins. SP is determined by the amount of money wagered on each horse, and it can fluctuate significantly depending on the popularity of the horse and the perceived chances of it winning. SP is important because it determines the potential return on a bet, as well as the amount of money that can be won or lost on the race.

Starting Price (SP)

In horse racing, the Starting Price (SP) refers to the final odds offered by bookmakers on a horse at the start of a race. It is the price at which bets are settled for punters who wagered on the horse to win, place, or show.

The SP is determined by various factors, such as the horse’s form, jockey, draw position, and the perceived strength of the competition. Bookmakers adjust their odds based on the amount of money bet on each horse, with popular selections typically having lower odds and less-fancied horses having higher odds.

Calculating SP

The SP is calculated using a formula that takes into account the total amount wagered on all horses in the race and the proportion of bets placed on each horse. The calculation is generally done by a computer system, ensuring fairness and accuracy.

Importance of SP

The SP is a crucial concept in horse racing for several reasons:

  • Settlement of Bets: The SP determines the payouts for winning, place, and show bets.
  • Taxation: In many jurisdictions, the SP is used to calculate the amount of tax payable on winnings.
  • Handicapping: Handicappers use SPs to assess the performance of horses and adjust their ratings accordingly.

SP vs. Ante-Post Price

The SP differs from the Ante-Post Price, which is the price offered on a horse before the final field is declared. Ante-Post Prices are often more speculative and can fluctuate significantly leading up to the race, while SPs are fixed at the start of the race.

Starting Price (SP)Final odds offered by bookmakers at the start of a race
Ante-Post PriceOdds offered on a horse before the final field is declared

SP in Horse Racing

SP, or starting price, refers to the odds a horse is offered at the start of a race. It is the average of the prices offered by all on-course bookmakers and is usually displayed on the tote board.

Fixed Odds Betting vs. SP Betting

There are two main types of betting in horse racing: fixed odds betting and SP betting.

Fixed Odds Betting

  • In fixed odds betting, the odds are set by the bookmaker before the race and do not change.
  • This means that you know exactly what you will win if your horse wins.
  • However, if the horse’s odds drift (increase) before the race, you will get lower odds than you would have if you had bet at SP.

SP Betting

  • In SP betting, the odds are not set until the start of the race.
  • You will therefore get the average of the prices offered by all on-course bookmakers at that time.
  • This means that you could get better odds than you would have if you had bet at fixed odds, but you also risk getting worse odds.

Type of BettingOdds SetRisk
Fixed Odds BettingBefore the raceLower risk
SP BettingAt the start of the raceHigher risk

SP in Horse Racing

SP, or Starting Price, refers to the final odds offered by bookmakers shortly before a horse race begins. It represents the price at which you would have placed a bet on the horse if you had waited until the last possible moment.

Impact of Market Fluctuations

Market fluctuations can significantly impact SP. Here are some factors that can influence SP:

  • Public Betting Patterns: Large amounts of money being placed on a particular horse can drive up its price, leading to a lower SP.
  • Expert Opinions: Comments and predictions from respected racing experts can sway public opinion and affect SP.
  • Late Withdrawals: If a heavily favored horse is withdrawn from the race at the last minute, the SP of other horses may rise.


Consider the following fictitious example:

HorseMorning OddsSP
Horse A5/14/1
Horse B3/12/1
Horse C8/17/1

In this example, Horse A’s SP (4/1) is lower than its morning odds (5/1) because it received a lot of public support. Conversely, Horse B’s SP (2/1) is higher than its morning odds (3/1) due to a late withdrawal of another favored horse.


SP in horse racing is a dynamic and often unpredictable figure that reflects the market’s assessment of a horse’s chances of winning. Understanding the factors that can influence SP can help bettors make more informed decisions.

SP in Horse Racing

SP, or starting price, is the price of a horse at the time it starts the race. It is determined by the amount of money bet on each horse and is constantly changing as the horses approach the starting gate.

Betting Strategies Involving SP

  • Backing the favorite: The favorite is the horse with the lowest SP, and it is generally the most popular choice among bettors. However, this does not mean that it is the best value bet.
  • Laying the favorite: This is a betting strategy in which you bet against the favorite. This can be a profitable strategy if you believe that the favorite is overvalued.
  • Betting on long shots: Long shots are horses with high SPs. They are less likely to win, but they can offer high payouts if they do.
  • Betting on mid-priced horses: These are horses with SPs that are in the middle of the pack. They offer a good balance of risk and reward.

The table below shows the SPs of the top three finishers in the 2022 Kentucky Derby:

Rich Strike80.801st

Well, there you have it, folks! The next time you’re at the track or watching a race on TV, you’ll know exactly what the SP means. Thanks for reading, and be sure to come back again soon for more horse racing fun and insights. Until then, keep your eyes on the prize!