How to Win a Horse Race – Scratch, Sesamoids, and Trifecta

horse race

The political press isn’t the only news outlet to cover a horse race. Politico senior media writer Jack Shafer points out that many outlets focus on the race as a way to forecast the positions of the 2020 presidential hopefuls. Other outlets cover the race by charting the positions of the ponies as they break from the gate. But critics of horse race coverage sound the usual condemnations of genres. But are they justified? Here are a few tips.

SCRATCH and SESAMOID in horse race

SCRATCH and SESAMOID in a horse race are two terms that are often confused. In a scratch race, more horses are entered than are allowed to start. This results in eight horses being put on the entry sheet as “also eligible.” These horses will not start until the number of entries is reduced. Unofficially entered horses may also be drawn from the list and start. A horse that was scratched can still win in subsequent starts.

TRIFECTA (or PERFECTA) wagering in which the first two finishers in a race must be picked

A TRIFECTA bet is a bet in which all three of a particular race’s first-place finishers must be picked. This type of wagering is more difficult to win than other bet types, such as a win, place, or exacta bet. Unlike other types of wagers, a trifecta bet requires the first two finishers to be picked in order. In a boxed trifecta bet, a key horse must finish first and the other two must finish second and third. The combination will be completed if they finish in that exact order.

Overnight race

An overnight horse race is a non-stakes event held during a racing meet. While the races are usually lower caliber than stakes races, they can still be profitable substitutes for regular stakes racing. A horse must meet certain conditions to compete in an overnight race, including having won a race in its lifetime. These conditions are stated in the condition book. In most cases, horses who have already won will not be able to run in an overnight race.


If you’re attending a PADDOCK horse race, there are a few things you should watch for. Observe the horses’ body language. Look for ones with a bounce in their step. Look for a horse that’s not fighting with the rider or kicking off with excess energy. If the horse’s eye is bright and alert, its ears are set forward, and the neck is set correctly.


A SCRATCH horse race occurs when the number of officially entered horses is more than the number of entries allowed for the start of the race. The entry sheet places eight additional horses “also eligible,” which are drawn from a list of unofficially entered horses. Knowing how many unofficially entered horses are in the race is critical to handicapping the race. Here are some tips on figuring out which horses were scratched:

How to Win a Horse Race – Scratch, Sesamoids, and Trifecta
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