Going To The Race Track For The First Time
"What Do I Need To Know"

By: Richard Reese

I remember the first time I went to the race track. I was so scared because I didn't know anything about anything.

If you've always wanted to go see a live thoroughbred horse race, but balked at the idea because you didn't know where to begin, then let me tell you some helpful racing tips to make your day go that much smoother.

The first thing I would do before heading to the track is visit your local track's website.

If you don't know where to find your local track, then go to: Horse Racing Tracks

This website has a listing of all the tracks in North America and their location for thoroughbred racing. Scroll down the site and find out what track website you would like to visit.

Track websites have so much good information that if you spend a few minutes going through the website you should have a good idea of where to park, how much the entrance fee is, where you might want to eat, where you might want to sit, etc.

Ok, so now you find yourself at the track.

Hopefully, you've done your homework by going through the past performances from Brisnet (I have written an article on the Horse Racing Form if you don't know what that is).

And of course you'll have subscribed to my FREE Handicapping Newsletter  Hint!Hint!

Once you enter the gates there will probably be people selling the racing form, racing program, and tip cheats (professional handicappers who sell you their best selections of who they think will win the races, although a complete rip-off because they select like 4 horses in each race and more than likely their top 2 selections are usually always the two lowest odds horses on the board.)

Keep on walking.

What you are looking for are people behind the cash and bet windows to make a bet with or just the machines themselves. It might look like this:

Obviously, these windows are closed, but look for windows just like it that are open and have a real live person, otherwise known as the window teller. 

Above the window teller is says Cash and Bet, meaning you can make bets with them and can also cash your winning tickets with them, as well.

So you tell them all the pertinent information like name of track, what race, dollar amount, type of bet, and what number or numbers you want to bet.

And of course give them the money for whatever amount-

For Example, if you were at Santa Anita Race Track only making win bets, this is how you might say your bet:

Santa Anita, Race 2, $2 to win on number #3.


If you are playing Aqueduct, a track in New York you might say:

Aqueduct, Race 6, $100 to win on #7.

Always check the ticket before you leave the window because a ticket can be cancelled and refunded up until the race goes off.

I go more into more detail about how to speak to the teller in making bets of all types, but this should get you started just fine.

The second way to make a bet is to just use a machine.

There are several machines you have to be aware of. First and foremost is the VOUCHER machine. In order to use the machines you must first put a voucher in the machine.

The easiest way to get a voucher is to just go up to a teller and ask them for a voucher. Tell them, can I please have a voucher for $100, or whatever amount you want a voucher for.

They will take your money and give you a piece of paper that says, voucher and the amount of money the paper is worth.

The second way to get a voucher is to find a machine that says Voucher machine, put whatever denomination you want into the voucher machine and you will get back a voucher, after you have touched the screen that says yes or accept.


And you would insert the money like this, making sure to follow the directions on the screen, touching the screen to accept that whatever denomination you put in will be converted to a voucher. Make sure you wait for the voucher to print and when it pops up out of the machine you are ready to go make a bet with the machine:

Now take the voucher and find an open machine. The machines will look like this:


Usually you insert the voucher on the left hand side of the machine, just like above.

Once the machine has accepted the voucher you just touch the screen to make your selections.

Pick the race track you want, the race number, the amount you want to bet, the type of bet, what number you want to bet, and then print ticket or whatever comes up on the screen so you can get your bet slip.

Make sure to click finish so you get your bet slip and your voucher back.

Don't leave your voucher in the machine, I've done that before and lost $50 bucks. If you notice that you have left a voucher in the machine and it is gone when you get back, talk to an attendant and see if they can cancel the voucher and return your money.

However, if somebody already cashed the ticket, then you just lost whatever was on that ticket.

Races go off about every 30 minutes, so there can be some down time in between.

What I like to do is to watch the horses being saddled in the holding area, then I like to watch them as they are paraded around the walking ring, and then I like to watch them warm up on the track. At that point I head over to the machines to make my bet.

The 30 minutes between the races goes by rather quickly when you do it this way. Do whatever you feel comfortable doing.

You might want to bring some binoculars to watch horses on the far side of the track and most tracks allow you to bring your own food inside the park, so plan accordingly.

If you find that you had a great time at the track, you might want to visit the Loyalty Center or Thoroughbred Center or Patron Services, whatever they name it at your track to get a loyalty or membership card.

These cards will reward you with free stuff throughout the racing season, including cheaper and sometimes free tickets. Just show your card at the admission gate so they can discount your admission and give you reward points.

Talk to the information desk to find out where you need to go to sign up.

There is a lot more to learn, but this at the very least should get you in the door and on your way to a great day at the races.