How to Wager 

If this is your first time betting on horse racing and you’re feeling a little intimidated, remember one thing: even the experts had to make their first wager at some point.

But there’s no need to be intimidated by all the numbers and terminology. The fact is, you can make wagers, win some money, and have one heck of a good time if you just know some of the basics

THE RACES

Though many races appear to be similar, each race has “conditions” that specify which horses may compete. Conditions include the horse’s age, sex and other classes of information about the horse. Here are a few of the more popular and important types of races:

MAIDEN RACE

A race for horses that have not yet won a race.

CLAIMING RACE

A race in which every horse participating is for sale at a stipulated price (the "claiming price") until shortly before the race begins.

ALLOWANCE RACE

Allowance races are highly competitive contests where horses entered cannot be purchased. The purses in allowance races are usually higher than purses in claiming races, but are usually lower than those of stakes and handicap races.

STAKES AND HANDICAP RACES

Stakes races are where the top horses compete. They carry the most prestige and have the biggest purses. To be entered into a stakes race, the horse’s owner must pay a fee, which may add more money to the total purse. In a handicap race, weights are added to the horse prior to the race in order to make all horses more evenly matched.

GRADED STAKES RACES

Selected top-level stakes races are assigned one of three grades, with Grade I being the highest level of competition. Races that are considered Grade I include the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and all the races that make up the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

Prairie Meadows’ most highly rated stakes race for Thoroughbreds are the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap, the Iowa Derby, and the Iowa Oaks, which are all Grade III races. Our highly rated stakes races for Quarter Horse include the Prairie Meadows Regional Challenge Championship, a Grade II race, as well as the Keokuk Stakes, Covered Bridges Stakes, and Two Rivers Stakes, which are all Grade III races.

PRAIRIE GOLD REWARDS

Enhance your Prairie Meadows experience by joining Prairie Gold Rewards and receive some of the finest casino benefits in the Midwest. Members earn points for virtually every dollar they spend at our racetrack, casino, and dining establishments. Sign up today at Prairie Gold Rewards on Casino Level 2.

HOW DO I PLACE MY BET?

Just follow these 6 easy steps:
  1. Go to a mutuels window or wagering kiosk. These are located on every gaming floor and outside near the racetrack. To earn Prairie Gold Rewards points on your wager, swipe your rewards card at the wagering kiosk or present your card to the mutuel teller prior to placing your wager.
  2. State the name of the track.
  3. Give the teller the number of the race you’re betting on.
  4. State the amount you wish to wager. ($2 is the minimum)
  5. Tell the teller the type of wager you’d like to make.
  6. Give them the number of the horse as listed in your program.

Our staff understands what it's like to be a first-time bettor, and they're more than happy to give you the assistance you need. So when you're ready to place a bet, all you have to do is follow these simple steps, and you'll have successfully made your first wager.

Here's and example:

"Prairie Meadows, third race, two dollars, to win, on number five."

BASIC WAGERS

WIN

When you bet a horse to win, you win if your horse finishes first.

PLACE.

When you bet a horse to place, you win if your horse finishes first or second.

SHOW.

When you bet a horse to show, you win if your horse finishes first, second or third.

WANT MORE?

Check out How to Place an Exotic Wager to learn about exotic wagering.

ODDS

The odds for any particular horse are not based upon that horse’s abilities. Rather, they are based on how much money is bet on the horse. Win odds are posted on TV monitors and the infield tote board. These odds are updated every 30-60 seconds and will fluctuate from the time you wager until betting ends. When you win, your payoff is determined by the closing odds. Following are the minimum payoffs for selected odds based on a $2 wager:

ODDS

PAYOFF

ODDS

PAYOFF

ODDS

PAYOFF

1-9

$2.10

3-2

$5.00

5-1

$12.00

 2-5

$2.40

8-5

$5.20

6-1

$14.00

2-5

$2.80

9-5

$5.60

8-1

$18.00

1-2

$3.00

2-1

$6.00

10-1

$22.00

3-5

$3.20

5-2

$7.00

12-1

$26.00

4-5

$3.60

3-1

$8.00

15-1

$32.00

1-1

$4.00

7-2

$9.00

20-1

$42.00

6-5

$4.40

4-1

$10.00

30-1

$62.00

7-5

$4.80

9-2

$11.00

50-1

$102.00