Betting on the Favorite

Before I begin, I must say that I do not condone gambling. I like the idea of playing poker for a few dollars here or there and maybe going with my dad to the races to bet on some horses. But it is never any big money. We never exceed $20 on a bet and we only go a few times a year.

The few times I have gone though, I have learned a lot about odds and chance.


There is no way to predict the winner in horse racing. Professional gamblers have tried for years to find a way to predict who will win and who will lose. There are many people who think that they have found the way to predict this, but there is no way to know for sure.

One way to pick a winner is to consider the jockey and his history with the horse. If the horse does not have a consistent jockey, it may mean the jockeys do not have faith the horse will win s. You could also consider the horse’s history. Who was the trainer? Where was the horse trained? How old is the horse? Who were the horse’s parents? Maybe the answers to these questions would improve your chances of guessing which horse was going to win.

But what about the unknowables? The horse is a living animal. You can’t predict what he or she is going to do. Maybe the horse will be feeling sick. Or maybe it just doesn’t feel like running as fast as it normally does.

But those people I mentioned earlier who think they have figured it out are always easy to find. They are the ones betting on the horse with the best odds.   The “odds” of a horse is a fraction that tells how much the racetrack will pay if a horse wins.  If a horse has odds of 3/1, that means a $1 bet will get $3 in return plus the original bet = $4.  A horse with long odds (for example, 20/1) will pay a lot if the win but is probably not a fast horse.

I went to the horse races on Saturday and I had saw odds on a horse that were hard to believe. Horse #5, Shared Belief, was up in the next race and he was the heavy favorite. People thought he would win and his odds were 1/9.   This means that a $9 bet will return $10, for a $1 profit.  That horse was an incredible favorite!  Almost all the other horses had odds ranging from 24/1 to 99/1. So, obviously, my dad and I bet on every other horse to win. I thought, “yes, there is the high probability that Shared Belief will win, but what if he doesn’t. What if, by some crazy stroke of luck, Shared Belief comes in second?”

So, I went up to the cashier with my dad (because I’m too young to bet on my own) and we placed a bet on every other horse to win. We walked out and waited for the race to start. I was so excited. I knew that there was an almost nonexistant possibility of any horse besides Shared Belief winning, but I was excited anyways.

Horse racing has taught me to be excited for that small probability. It has taught me that anyone can come from the back and win, irregardless fo their history or their odds.

By the way, Shared Belief won easily and we lost our bet.  Oh well.


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