Beginner’s Guide To Michigan Horse Race Betting

Noted sports author Roger Kahn once wrote that “horse racing is animated roulette.”

If that’s the case, horse racing sounds even more interesting.

Since Michigan launched online sports betting in January, there has been much interest in horse race betting for 2021. Thus far, the state has one venue in-state, Northville Downs, which plans to host horse races this year. Northville Downs also allows betting on out-of-state races on-site.

Northville Downs offers harness racing, but currently there are no licensed thoroughbred race tracks offering online betting opportunities in the state of Michigan.

How Do I Bet On Horses Online in Michigan?

Most of the United States operators of online “pari-mutuel betting” are accepting Michigan wagers. From Michigan, you can wager on the action taking place at horse tracks all over the world. Operators in the US will accept bets from accounts created within Michigan in what is also called Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW).

TVG and TwinSpires are the two online horse race betting sites available today in Michigan, via conditional license in partnership with Northville Downs Racetrack.

Horse Race Betting Terms Glossary

Exacta or Perfecta

  • An exacta is a bet where you predict the winning horse and also the second-place horse in order. An exact will pay higher than simply betting on which horse wins or which finishes second separately. 


  • In a Quintella, the better is only required to pick the two horses that will finish first and second, but not in which order. Seeing as this type of bet is easier to win than an Exacta, the payout is less.


  • Want to really show off? Pick the three horses that will finish first, second, and third (in order) to win the Trifecta. Naturally, this type of wager is very difficult to predict, so your payout is much higher than for an exacta or quinella.


  • No, the Superfecta does not wear a cape. But it will make you a superhero in your betting circles. For a superfecta you must predict the four horses to finish 1-2-3-4 in the race, in order. The payout for a superfecta is typically very high, so it offers a chance to be a big winner.


  • A Double requires the bettor to correctly pick the winning horses in two consecutive races. Most horse racing tracks will offer at least two doubles: an “early double” (Races #1 and #2) and a “late double” (the final two races of the day). Some will also offer other double bets.

Pick 3

  • A Pick 3 is similar to a Double, except the bettor must correctly predict the winning horse in three consecutive races to get the payout.

Pick 4

  • See Pick 3, and add one race.

Pick 6

  • Are you ready for this? The bettor must pick the winning horse in six straight races. If you can accomplish that, you’ll typically get a very nice payout. Pick 6 bets are often offered as community bets, so if no one wins a Pick 6, a pool of prize money will be carried over to the next racing day. 

How To Place Horse Racing Bets Online in Michigan

Where Can I Place A Bet On Horse Racing in Michigan? 

Use one of the conditionally licensed operators offering parimutuel services (or ADW) in Michigan:

  • TwinSpires
  • TVG

Are There Bonuses Available On Horse Racing in Michigan?

Consult with the licensed provider of horse track racing in Michigan for bonus information, which may include:

  • Deposit match: The operator matches all or a portion of your initial account deposit.
  • Sign Up Bonus: The bettor receives a small bonus when they successfully open a new account.
  • Risk-Free Bet: Your losses are refunded on a single horse racing bet.

Horse Racing Online Betting Frequently Asked Questions

Is It Legal To Bet Online On Horse Racing In Michigan?

Yes, online sports betting was launched in Michigan in January of 2021. Currently, bettors can only place bets through Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) for tracks located across the United States or internationally.

When Are Some of the Most Popular Horse Races Scheduled?

These are the most popular horse race events in the United States and details for the upcoming season:

Kentucky Derby: May 1, 2021, Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky.

The first leg of the Triple Crown is the most historic and famous horse racing event in the U.S. The field is limited to 20 horses, distance is 1 1/4 miles

Preakness Stakes: May 16, 2021, Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore, Maryland.

The Preakness is the second leg of the Triple Crown. The distance is 1 3/16 miles, the shortest of the three Triple Crown races.

Belmont Stakes: June 5, 2021, Belmont Park, Elmont, New York

The third and final leg of the historic Triple Crown, this is the longest race of the three, at 1½ miles.

About the Author

Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes has written three books about sports. He previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball. He enjoys writing, running, and lemon bars. He lives near Lake Michigan with his daughters and usually has an orange cream soda nearby.