How to Bet a Pick 5 in Horse Racing [Explained]

How to bet a Pick 5 in horse racing Read this guide to understand Pick 5 bets and betting strategies!

Welcome to our article that will explain How to bet a Pick 5 in Horse Racing.

If you love betting on horse races, imagine how fun it could be to bet on five horses instead of one?

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With a Pick 5 bet, you can bet on all the winners of five consecutive races. Though not all tracks and sportsbooks offer these bets, horse race lovers tend to adore the ones that do.

How to bet a Pick 5 in horse racing is difficult. You need to pick five consecutive races and bet on the winner for each one. Because this wager is so difficult to win, you will want to implement an effective strategy. Spreading is the most commonly used strategy for this wager.

To learn more about Pick 5 horse bets, keep reading.

What Is a 5 Horse Bet Called?

There are many bets that qualify as a 5 horse bet. The two most popular are Pick 5 and Hi 5.

Although both of these bets include five horses, you aren’t wagering the same thing. In other words, these are not names that can be used interchangeably since they refer to two different types of bets.

What Is a Pick 5 Bet in Horse Racing?

A Pick 5 bet is whenever you bet on the winners of five consecutive races.

For example, let’s assume that you get to the track before any races start, and you want to bet on the horse that will win races 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Instead of betting on each horse separately, you can bet on every race in a Pick 5 bet.

If you are familiar with parlays, Pick 5 bets in horse racing work much in the same way: you are betting on five different outcomes, but you must get them all correct in order to win the wager.

The difficulty of a Pick 5 bet is that all races must be won by the horse selected in order for you to win.

Consequently, the horse you selected for races 1, 2, 3, and 4 may be right, but you do not win the wager if a different horse wins race 5.

The reason for betting on this tricky wager is that payouts are huge.

Even though you do not technically win the bet if you do not get all legs of the Pick 5 bet correct, most horse racing betting sites and tracks offer a consolation prize if you choose 4 of the 5 horses correctly.

Although this is not guaranteed, most provide this consolation prize since selecting only 4 horses is difficult.

What Is a Hi 5 in Horse Racing?

It’s important not to confuse Pick 5 bets with Hi 5 bets. Although the bets are similar, they are not exactly the same. Whereas Pick 5 bets involve betting on five consecutive races, Hi 5 bets involve picking the top five finishers of a single race in the correct order.

In more simple terms, a Pick 5 bet involves five separate races, whereas a Hi 5 bet only involves one. Although Hi 5 bets are technically more difficult since you have to get the places right of each horse, both bets are difficult to win yet make the horse race even more fun than it already is.

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How to Bet a Pick 5 in Horse Racing

If you are interested in Pick 5 bets, here is what you need to do:

Find Locations that Offer Pick 5 Bets

Not all locations offer Pick 5 bets. Obviously, the track must have five consecutive races scheduled. So, you will need to find locations and events that offer Pick 5 bets. The most popular races, such as the Kentucky Derby, almost always offer Pick 5 bets.


The Pick 5 bet is one of the most notoriously difficult wagers to win. Although there are many strategies you may implement to try to win this wager, the most popular is called spreading.

With the spreading strategy, you are going to pick more than one horse for certain races but center your ticket around one race you are confident on. The price of the bet will increase whenever you use more horses.

Take this example:

  • Race 1: 4
  • Race 2: 2
  • Race 3: 1
  • Race 4: 3
  • Race 5: 2

In this example, you listed four horses on race 1, two horses on race 2, one horse on race 3, three horses on race 4, and two horses on race 5. Since race 3 is the only race with one horse, the ticket will be made around this race.

The cost of your ticket will be multiplied by how many horses you are betting on in each leg.

Then, multiply that amount by the wager.

In this case: 4 X 2 X 1 X 3 X 2 = 48.

Multiply 48 by the wager.

Most tracks require a minimum wager of $1. If you only bet $1.00, the ticket will cost $48, but you could win thousands.

How Is Pick 5 Calculated?

Pick 5 earning calculations can be a bit difficult.

Simply put, your winnings are technically unlimited, but they are determined by a pari-mutuel system.

This means that out of all the money collected, the money will be split evenly between all the winning tickets. If there are no winning tickets, the track or sportsbook keeps the money as commission.

It may be helpful to think of an example. Let’s say that a particular race accumulated $30 that goes into the pool of money.

Both you and one other person have winning tickets. Neither you nor the other person will get the entire $30. Instead, both of you will get $15 each.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how to bet a Pick 5 in horse racing takes real skill and talent.

The best way to maximize your potential of winning is with the spreading strategy. Even with this strategy, it can be next to impossible to win this wager, but that doesn’t make the bet any less fun.

Make sure not to confuse a Pick 5 bet with a Hi 5 bet. Whereas the Pick 5 refers to five consecutive races, the Hi 5 bet involves picking on the five horses that will place in a single race.


Andy nelson owner of

Andy Nelson

Andy has been writing and posting about offshore sportsbooks for over 15 years. He's also an active sportsbook bonus seeker and seasoned online gambler on US sports.

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