It is amazing how many people make bets without understanding the toteboard and the information it provides. While the toteboard may seem imposing, it is actually pretty easy to learn how to read it. Once you understand it, you will be able to make decisions and place better bets.
The most basic information on the board is the win odds listed for each horse. That doesn't tell you what the horse will pay if he wins, but the amount of profit you will get and the amount you have to bet to get it. Odds of 6-5 mean that you will get $6 profit for every $5 wagered. Odds of 20-1 mean you get $20 profit for every $1 wagered, so if you bet $2 you will get $42 back. Since most racetracks have a $2 minimum bet, below is a handy chart look up the payoff for a $2 bet placed at various odds. Remember, your actual payoff may differ from this chart as the odds on the toteboard are rounded off, so 2-1 odds displayed on the toteboard may actually be 1.9-1 or 2.2-1. Payoffs use the actual odds and are rounded down to the nearest nickel or dime depending on the rules at that racetrack. This rounding is called breakage which can be a complex topic for beginners. Those who want to know more about breakage should read this article.
If you want to calculate the exact win odds on a horse using the information from the toteboard, you will need to use a couple of other figures it provides: total win pool and the amount bet on that horse. The total pool is all the money bet on all the horses to win, but it is NOT the amount that will actually be paid out to the holders of winning tickets.
Before the racetrack pays off the winners, they deduct the "take" which is generally between 14%-20% and is
different for every state. You can look up the take at your track here. This money goes to pay state and local taxes, purses for the horsemen, expenses at the track, and the racetrack's profit.
To calculate the exact odds on your horse, just subtract the take from the total pool then subtract the amount bet on your horse to give you the amount of cash to be paid out. Divide that figure by the amount bet on your horse to get the exact odds. This figure will always be rounded off to the nearest dime (usually) or nickel, breakage as mentioned above, before the payoffs are calculated. Here is a simple example of win odds calculation:
Total pool: $900
Amount bet on horse #1: $300
Take amount: 15%
$900 - 15% = $765
$765 - $300 = $465
$465 / $300 = $1.55
Round this off to $1.50 for breakage and you get odds of 1.5-1 or 3-2 as it would normally be written which yields a payoff of $5.00 on a $2.00 wager.
Triple Crown quick links:
2017 Belmont Stakes Entries - A field of 12 was entered for the Belmont Stakes with Irish War Cry the lukewarm favorite at 7-2. Get all the horses, post positions, odds, and free past performances here.
Analyzing the Belmont Stakes Contenders - Our annual analysis using popular angles and statistical trends to see who best matches the profile of a Belmont winner. This year the top two are clear with a 5-way tie for third spot.
Cloud Computing wins the Preakness (G1) - Cloud Computing pressed the pace and got up to win the 2017 Preakness (G1) by a head over Classic Empire with Senior Investment third. Favorite Always Dreaming faded to 8th. Get the results, chart, and photos here.
Preakness Undercard Stakes Results - There were 7 other stakes on Preakness day, highlighted by the Dixie Stakes (G2) on the turf won by World Approval, the Gallorette (G3) won by Cambodia, and the Maryland Sprint Stakes (G3) won by Whitmore. Get the results, charts, and photos for all 7 races here.
Black-Eyed Susan Day Results - Actress broke her maiden in the mud to win the 2017 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) at Pimlico on Friday. There were 6 other stakes on the card including the Pimlico Special (G3) won by Shaman Ghost, the Allaire Dupont Distaff (G3) won by Terra Promessa, and the Miss Preakness Stakes (G3) won by Vertical Oak. Get the results, charts, and photos for all 7 races here.
Thursday Preakness Photos - Two photos each and comments for all 10 Preakness horses from Thursday morning at Pimlico. Everyone galloped today since training ends early Friday.
2017 Alibi Breakfast - The traditional Alibi Breakfast was held on Thursday May 18, before the 142nd running of the Preakness Stakes. Connections of some of the 10 Preakness entrants were on hand to swap stories about their horse as well as watch the presentation of the annual awards.
2017 Preakness Entries - A field of 10 was entered for the 142nd Preakness on Saturday, with Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming drawing post 4 as the 4-5 favorite. Classic Empire is second choice at 3-1 from post 5. Get the horses, posts, odds, and free past performances here.
Wednesday Preakness Photos - Two photos each and comments for all the Preakness horses from Wednesday afternoon at Pimlico, except Multiplier who arrived late yesterday.
Tuesday Preakness Photos - Photos and comments for seven of the Preakness horses from Tuesday afternoon at Pimlico, including Always Dreaming, Classic Empire, and five others who arrived today.
Preakness Entry Rules - the field is limited to 14 starters, here is how they determine the order of preference if more than that enter.
Preakness Infield - After the massive tightening of the rules which resulted in a huge drop in attendance in 2009, things have relaxed slightly and you can buy a special "all you can drink beer" Mug Club ticket now.
Preakness Traditions - Black-eyed Susans to the winner, the Woodlawn Vase trophy, the Alibi Breakfast, painting the weather vane, and more.
Always Dreaming romps in the 2017 Kentucky Derby (G1) - Favorite Always Dreaming led most of the way to win the Kentucky Derby (G1) by 2 3/4 lengths in the slop at Churchill Downs on Saturday. Longshots Lookin at Lee and Battle of Midway finished second and third. Get the results, chart, and photos here.
Kentucky Derby Undercard Stakes Results - There were 6 other stakes on the card today with the Derby, including the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) won by Divisidero, the Humana Distaff (G1) won by Paulassilverlining, the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2) won by Roca Rojo, the Churchill Downs Stakes (G2) won by Limousine Liberal, the American Turf (G2) won by Arklow, and the Pat Day Mile (G3) won by Wild Shot. Get the results, charts, and photos here.
Abel Tasman wins the 2017 Kentucky Oaks (G1) - Abel Tasman came from last early on to win the Kentucky Oaks (G1) by 1 1/4 lengths in the slop at Churchill Downs on Friday. Daddys Lil Darling was second and Lockdown was 3rd while favorite Paradise Woods faded to 11th. Get the results, chart, and photos here.
Kentucky Oaks Undercard Stakes Results - There were 5 other stakes on the card today with the Oaks, including the La Troienne (G1) won by Big World, the Alysheba (G2) won by Bird Song, the Eight Belles (G2) won by Benner Island, the Twin Spires Turf Sprint (G3) won by Green Mask, and the Edgewood Stakes (G3) won by La Coronel. Get the results, charts, and photos here.