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Kentucky horse race betting

Kentucky is the epicenter of horse racing in the United States, so horse race betting has always been huge in the Bluegrass State. On this page, we will take a deep dive into all of the practical information you will need to Kentucky horse race betting.

Fact checked by: Gary Garry
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Best horse race betting sites in Kentucky

Online horse race betting has been legal in Kentucky for years, and now that sports betting in KY is legal, more operators are entering the equine arena. Here are the best horse race betting sites in Kentucky at the present time:

TwinSpires Kentucky Logo


TwinSpires is named after the iconic structures that tower over the track at Churchill Downs, so this is a homegrown company, and it has a strong reputation.

TVG Kentucky Logo


TVG pioneered the online horse race betting industry in the United States, and they have been around since 1999.

DK Horse Kentucky Logo

DraftKings Horse

DraftKings Horse is a new platform that was not been active long enough to establish a firm identity among horse betting enthusiasts.

Caesars Racebook Kentucky Logo

Caesars Racebook

Caesars is in the same category as DraftKings – a sports betting platform that is now reaching for a share of the horse racing action.

Yes, horse race betting is legal in Kentucky. It is part of the lifeblood of the state’s economy, and it is an activity that people have been participating in for a very long time.

When you bet on horse races in Kentucky, you are wagering into a pari-mutuel pool. This form of wagering was legalized in Kentucky during the early portion of the 20th century. Legal online horse race betting has been available for more than 20 years.

History of horse race betting in Kentucky

Early settlers that came to Kentucky during the second half of the 1700s arrived on horseback and horse-drawn carriages. Everyone needed a horse, so they were valuable commodities, and many people took pride in their horses.

Informal horse races became very common during the early days, and the racing became more organized over time. The first unofficial racetrack opened in Lexington in 1789, and the Lexington Association Horse Racing Track opened its doors in 1828. This was the first official track with written rules.

On March 23, 1906, the Kentucky Racing Commission was established, and regulated pari-mutuel wagering replaced underground bookmakers.

Churchill Downs opened in Louisville in 1875, and that was the year that the first Kentucky Derby was run. It attracted about 10,000 spectators, which is a lot of people, but the number has grown to more than 150,000 during our current era.

Rules for betting on horse races in Kentucky

There is no set of rules for people who want to bet on horse races in Kentucky. The activity is limited to people over 18 years of age, but aside from that, it is a simple, straightforward endeavor with no administrative intricacies.

Where can you bet on horses in Kentucky?

There are a couple of ways to bet on horse racing in Kentucky, so you can enjoy the action from all parts of the state. These are the avenues that are available:

  • Online horse race betting sites: As we have stated, there are online platforms that offer horse race betting. This is clearly the most convenient method, but it is a solitary activity. Some of the platforms even have betting apps.
  • Live race tracks: You can bet on horses in Kentucky when you are at one of the horse racing tracks in KY. This applies to live racing, and there is simulcast wagering available on races that are run at tracks all around the country.

What kind of horse race bets can you place in Kentucky?

There are many different bet types available, so you have a lot of options when you bet the horses in Kentucky.

  • Win, place, and/or show: A win bet needs no explanation, and with a place bet, you win if your selected horse finishes first or second. A show bet pays out if the pick does not finish any worse than third.
  • Exacta: With an exacta bet, you select the horses that will finish first and second in the correct order.
  • Trifecta: This is just like an exacta, but you must pick the first three finishers in order.
  • Superfecta: When you play a superfecta, you select the top four finishers in the proper order.
  • Horizontal bets: The daily double, Pick-3, Pick-4, Pick-5, and Pick-6 are horizontal wagers. You have to pick the winner of consecutive races when you make this type of bet.

How do you sign up for online horse race betting sites in KY?

Signing up for a horse racing site in Kentucky is a quick and easy process that takes about five minutes or less.

  1. Choose the site: The first step is to do some research and decide on the site you want to patronize first.
  2. Provide your identifying info: When you arrive on your chosen site, click the “sign-up” link and provide the information that is needed to establish your account.
  3. Fund your account: This is easily accomplished because all of the typical methods are accepted.
  4. Enjoy the action: When the account is up and running and you have a live bankroll in place, you are ready to place your first bets.

Horse race tracks in Kentucky

There are plenty of horse race tracks to bet on live horse races in Kentucky. In addition to the thoroughbred tracks, there are a couple of standardbred courses as well, and they are all listed below.

  • Churchill Downs
  • Ellis Park
  • Keeneland
  • Turfway Park
  • Kentucky Downs
  • The Red Mile (standardbred)
  • Oak Grove (standardbred)

Are there any off-track betting parlors in KY?

No, there are no off-track betting parlors in KY. Some states have dedicated off-track betting parlors, but Kentucky is not one of them, as the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission has not allowed them yet.

However, races run at other tracks are simulcast at the Kentucky tracks that have live racing (listed in a previous section). For example, if you are at Churchill Downs, you could bet on a race that is being run in New York.

Kentucky horse race betting guides

For those seeking more information, we've compiled detailed guides on betting for major events like the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders' Cup. Discover expert strategies and insights to elevate your horse race betting experience.


Is horse race betting popular in Kentucky?

Yes, horse race betting is popular in Kentucky. It is a state famed for its horse racing.

Which is the oldest horse racing track in KY?

Churchill Downs is the oldest thoroughbred track in Kentucky that is still operational.

What is the Kentucky Derby?

The Kentucky Derby is the most famous horse race in North America. Running annually since 1875, typically on the first Saturday in May, it is the first leg of the "Triple Crown."

Is TwinSpires live in Kentucky?

Yes, TwinSpires is live in Kentucky.

Can you bet on horse racing using Kentucky sportsbooks?

No, you can’t bet on horse racing using Kentucky sportsbooks. You have to do it through specific racebooks, such as TVG and TwinSpires, which are different from normal sportsbooks.

Fact checked by: Gary Garry