How To Wager


Welcome to Hollywood Park OTB (Off Track Betting). We know that your first experience at a track can be an intimidating one. Hopefully this segment can help ease your worries. A day at Hollywood OTB is an exciting day filled with emotion, pageantry and fun, fun, fun!

For the first time wagerer or the experienced handicapper, Hollywood Park OTB offers world-class simulcast racing from around the country as well as international racing. Well, let’s get started with our beginners corner.

Placing Your Wager

1. Pick Your Horse
You can either rely on luck or consider factors such as the horse’s racing history and track conditions. For the most handicapping information, start with the Official Program and the Daily Racing Form. 

2. Place Your Wagers

The odds for each race are shown on the Tote Board and on TV monitors throughout the track. The odds are constantly changing because they are determined by the amount wagered on each horse. Odds reflect what the crowd thinks of a particular horse. If the odds are low – say 3-1, a large number of people in the crowd think the horse will win. If high, say 40-1, very few think it will win. The less total money wagered on a particular horse, the fewer people there are to split the winnings if that horse wins and, therefore, the larger the payoff.

To place your wager, the clerk will need the following information:

  • The track
  • The race number
  • The amount you wish to wager
  • The type of wager
  • The horse number

For example, “At Betfair Hollywood Park, in the fifth, two dollars to win on number five.”

3. Watch and Win

 Watch your horse run for the money. Once the race has been declared “Official,” you can collect your winnings at any window.


Types of Wagering

Win Your horse must finish 1st.
Place Your horse must finish 1st or 2nd.
Show Your horse must finish 1st, 2nd or 3rd.
Across the Board You are making 3 equal win, place, and show bets.
  • If your horse wins: you collect on all 3 wagers (win, place, show).
  • If your horse comes in 2nd: you collect on the place and show bet.
  • If your horse comes in 3rd: you collect on the show bet. For example: “$2
  • Across the Board on 1” simply means: $2 to win on #1, $2 to place on #1 and $2 to show on #1 which will cost you $6 total.
Quinella Your horses must finish 1st and 2nd in either order.
Exacta Your horses must finish 1st and 2nd in the exact order.
Trifecta Your horses must finish 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the exact order.
Superfecta Your horses must finish 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the exact order.
Daily Double Your horses must finish 1st in each of the two races that comprise the Daily Double. Wagers must be made before either race has begun.
Pick 3 Similar to a Daily Double, but applies to three consecutive races.
Pick 4 Your horse must win each of the four races comprising the Pick 4. Wagers must be placed before the running of the first of the Pick 4 races.
Pick Six Similar to a Pick 4, but applies to six consecutive races. If no one picks all six winners, those picking five out of six will split 30% of the total Pick Six pool. The remaining 70% “carries over” to the next racing day, and will continue to do so each day until someone correctly selects six out of six.

Understanding The Odds

Approximate Pay to Win Based On A $2.00 Wager
Odds Pays Odds Pays
1-5 $2.40 5-2 $7.00
2-5 $2.80 3-1 $8.00
1-2 $3.00 7-2 $9.00
3-5 $3.20 4-1 $10.00
4-5 $3.60 9-2 $11.00
1-1 $4.00 5-1 $12.00
6-5 $4.40 6-1 $14.00
7-5 $4.80 7-1 $16.00
3-2 $5.00 8-1 $18.00
8-5 $5.20 9-1 $20.00
9-5 $5.60 10-1 $22.00
2-1 $6.00 12-1 $26.00

Factors Affecting Handicapping

While predicting the winner of a race is not an exact science, taking into consideration the following variables can increase your skill in predicting the winner.

As with humans, horses can’t run their best if they aren’t in top condition. Many players look for horses with recent race dates or morning workouts.

What class of competitors has the horse raced against in the past? If its performance has been just adequate against a weaker class, then it may not have the ability to win against a higher class of thoroughbreds.

Most horses are only good at either short distances (under a mile) or long distances (over a mile), not both. Consider a horse only if he shows good past performance at the distance that is being run today.

Post Position
Different tracks favor different post positions, but generally far outside post positions (10 and up) produce fewer winners. Inside posts are usually favorable, but are not enough by themselves to help a weak horse.

Running Style
This usually falls into one of three categories: pace-setters (either a front-runner or less than two lengths back) ; stalkers (never more than four lengths back); or closers (horses who are never closer than five lengths from the pace).

If there are few pace-setters, go with one of them. Seek out a stalker if front runners are either numerous or non-existent in the race and if there are no closers. Closers are preferable when an abundance of early speed exists, but are generally the riskiest.

Pay attention to the trainer. While they don’t guarantee a win, you are probably safe throwing out a horse from a low-ranking trainer.

Don’t underestimate the importance of the jockey. Riders at the top of the leader board win much more often than those at the bottom.

Present Form
Horses tend to enter a period of peak performance and then gradually slide down. Look at the most recent races to see if the horse is still at peak. If not, then chances are it won’t return to peak for this race.

A good recent history isn’t enough unless the horse is consistently a quality performer. So examine a horse very carefully to see if that recent win was a fluke or part of ongoing excellent performance.

While some handicappers feel this is important, others think that 10 pounds will hardly affect a horse that weighs more than a thousand pounds. If you do consider weight as a factor, look at it more closely in longer races where the extra weight is more likely to weigh the horse down.

Speed Figures
There are many speed figures available (Thorograph, for example) that reduce a horse’s past performance to numbers. These figures are determined by combining factors such as running times and track conditions. They can be useful, but should only be used in conjunction with other factors.

Pari-mutuel Wagering

Horse racing is a form of pari-mutuel wagering (French for “to wager amongst ourselves”). The difference between pari-mutuel wagering and other forms of wagering is that in pari-mutuel , you compete against other players, not the house. People who select winning horses get the money of people who select losing horses.

In casino-style wagering, however, the winners’ money comes from the house. Therefore, the only way the house can make money is for players to lose. That is why all games in a casino are set up to favor the casino.

Hollywood Park OTB, on the other hand, receives a small commission for showing the race, keeping up with all the wagers and distributing the winnings to the proper parties. Hollywood Park OTB has no interest in the outcome of any race, or whether the players win or lose. So we actually want you to win!

The Races

First timers to racing may not realize that there are many different types of races. While many races appear much the same as others, there are conditions that limit certain types of horses to certain races.

Stakes and Handicap Races
Stakes and Handicap races offer the highest level of competition. These races are run for larger purse monies and generally bring out the top horses. Stakes and handicap races require owners to pay a fee in order to nominate, enter and run their horses. The deadline to nominate a horse comes two weeks prior to the running of the race. Those fees are added to the money the track contributes to the purse. The track handicapper assigns the weights to be carried in handicap races, attempting to level the playing field among the participants.

Overnight Stakes
The main difference between an overnight stakes race and a stakes race is the amount of fees a trainer entering his horse in the race pays to compete. Overnight stakes do not require nomination, entry and starting fees. Nomination for overnight stakes are generally taken up to a week before the race. Overnight stakes bring out quality horses to compete for excellent purse money.

Claiming Race
Any horse entered in a claiming race is subject to purchase, for the amount for which the horse is entered, by any owner who has started a horse at that particular race meeting. In some such races the claiming price will have a range of several thousand dollars with weight allowances made for horses entered at the lower prices. The claiming race is a method of classifying horses in order to produce races involving competition of equal ability. When a horse wins easily while running among $5,000 claimers he is usually moved up in value to avoid his being claimed.

Starter Allowance Race
Starter allowance races combine the elements of claiming and allowance races to provide a unique and highly competitive contest. Starter allowances share the quality of an allowance race in that the entered horses cannot be purchased or “claimed”. All entered horses in a starter allowance must have run in a claiming race during a designated amount of time. The starter allowance generally brings together the best of the the claiming-level competitors.

Maiden Race
A race for horses that have never won. A horse is considered a maiden until it wins a race for the first time. Maidens can stop out of their division and face winners.

Although there are many types of races, they all proceed in much the same manner. The horses are saddled in the paddock, from where they are paraded in front of the grandstand so that all the patrons may get a look at the horses prior to the start. Different items catch the eye of different fans, which is why there is no sure-fire way to pick a winner—everybody seems to see things a bit differently. Once the parade has ended the horses go into a warmup which lasts from five to eight minutes, depending on the time the race is scheduled to start. Once they are loaded into their assigned starting stalls in the gate, they’re on their way and the real drama of the race is set to unfold.


Handicapping is predicated on a principle that the future will repeat the past. For the newcomers to racing, as well as veteran players, this can be confusing – trying to get a handle on an inexact science.

In order to succeed in any kind of game involving a certain degree of chance, your approach must be mathematically sound.

People going to the races for the first few times would do well to avail themselves of selections of a good public newspaper handicapper to use as a guide.

It is difficult for the novice race goer to do any serious in-depth handicapping on his own, because the reading and evaluating of past performances won’t be mastered until later.

The Horse

The thoroughbred was developed in the early 18th century from three foundation sires, the Byerly Turk, Darley Arabian and Godolphin Barb crossed to native English mares.

Over the many years since, various lines of the thoroughbred died until today only those of the stallions Eclipse, Matchem and Herod survive.

Every horse that has ever run at Hollywood Park traces to one of those surviving three.

Wagering Guide Menu



Regular Hours:
General Admission Room Open Daily at 10:00 a.m.
Night programs Saturday and Sunday 
Turf Club VIP Room open during the Los Alamitos RC Meet at 10:00 a.m. 

General Admission:
$6 (Free when there is no southern California racing)
Turf Club VIP: $15

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3883 W. Century Blvd. | Inglewood, CA 90303