The Super Bowl of Horse Racing (10/22/14)

The Seattle Seahawks crushed the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 48, but the real highlight came out of Las Vegas 2,000 miles away. It was the first time in sports betting history that the overall Super Bowl handle eclipsed $100,000,000 in the state of Nevada. And while no one would question the Super Bowl is the biggest game in sports, it still ranks number two as the best single betting event each year.

Check out the following chart below, this compares the legal amount wagered on the Breeders' Cup as compared to the Super Bowl over the last five years.

Year Breeders' Cup Year Super Bowl
2013 $135,958,816 2014 $119,400,822
2012 $127,676,360 2013 $98,936,798
2011 $140,070,361 2012 $93,899,840
2010 $152,293,176 2011 $87,491,098
2009 $127,396,580 2010 $82,726,367
Sources: Equibase and Nevada Gaming Commission

The Breeders' Cup is horse racing's Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup and NBA Championship all rolled up into two days. There are 13 individual races, segmented by age, sex, distance and surface (dirt or turf), each with a championship on the line. Not unlike the Super Bowl and the pre-event hype, the event is televised on broadcast for 8+ hours, however there is a different championship run every 45 minutes.

On the Super Bowl, you can bet on either team, called the side or the over or under of combined points scored, called the total. These two straight bets would likely compare to placing a Win, Place and Show wager on a specific horse in the Breeders' Cup. However, with 14 races, 10+ horses a race on average and Win, Place or Show bets on each, straight bet options on the Breeders' Cup are significant.

Sides and totals were once considered the only options for betting sports, however the Super Bowl wagering menu has exploded in the last five years, predominately due to the increase in popularity of “prop bets”. Click here to see a sample of prop bets available in Las Vegas for the Seahawks – Broncos Super Bowl.

It's widely held that player, team and game props make up at least fifty percent (if not more) of the overall Super Bowl handle, and that number is growing yearly. Bettors want action, multiple ways to win over the course of the game and prop bets do the trick. Add to that, an opportunity to make five or more times your money and you can see why prop bets have fueled the Super Bowl handle explosion.

The Breeders' Cup has its own version of prop bets called exotic wagers. From picking the order of the top two finishers in a race (exacta), to selecting the top four finishers (superfecta), the Breeders' Cup offers at least five of these exotic wagering options within each race. Multi-race exotics such as the Daily Double and Pick 3 provide a simple way for fans to pick the winner of two or three races in a row, and cash a big ticket.

The table below represents the Breeders' Cup exotic wagering handle.

Year Exotic Wager Handle % of Total Handle
2013 $92,599,805 68%
2012 $84,736,172 66%
2011 $93,260,768 67%
2010 $102,493,235 67%
2009 $82,658,986 65%
Source: Equibase

It's all about location
There are over 200 sports books throughout the state of Nevada where you can bet on the Super Bowl (or for that matter most sports, including the Breeders' Cup).

Wagering on Horse Racing is available in more than 35 states and at last count, approximately 900 “brick and mortar” locations are available to bet the Breeders' Cup. In addition, horse racing is the only legalized sport in the United States that you can bet online - these online websites are called “ADW's,” the acronym for Advanced Deposit Wagering, and are easy to find via a quick online search.

Betting on the Super Bowl and the Breeders' Cup are as similar as they are different but one theme remains constant, it's just as tough to pick a winner…


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