A Beginner's Guide to Racing at Oaklawn

For those who believe in Beginner’s Luck, an afternoon of racing at Oaklawn Park is a must for any visit to Hot Springs.

According to Nancy Holthus, media coordinator and paddock analyst for Oaklawn, beginners “actually have amazing luck first time visiting the track.” But even with great odds, it’s good to have a strategy.

There are all sorts of local picks from the local newspaper to area blogs, but Holthus said when arriving at the track, a program and tip sheets are available.

“The first objective entering the track is to purchase a program — it will contain all the information you need for the day in regards to horses, jockeys and trainers for each race,”she said.

Tip sheets are good for “a little extra help with your selections,” and are selections for each race by professional handicappers.

“Make your way to the paddock before the race to see the horses saddle and pick out your favorite horse or rider with the your favorite silks,” she said. After you choose your winner, visit the betting window to make your wager.

Horses Racing at Oaklawn

Holthus suggested sticking with the basics — Win, Place and Show. Your Show bet must win first, second or third place for a payoff and chances are often very good. If your Place selection wins first or second, the payoffs are better, but the odds are a little steeper. Your choice for Win must take first place, and the payoff is determined by the odds.

“This year Oaklawn has made betting on track more profitable,” she said. “You make more if your horse runs first, second or third with the new Show Bet Bonus.”

And if for whatever reason Lady Luck is not on your side, there are still plenty of ways to have fun at Oaklawn.

Grab a world famous corned beef sandwich, or dine on shrimp and fresh shucked oysters in the oyster bar. And make sure to visit the Winning Colors Gift Shop for a souvenir from the day.

Post times are scheduled Thursdays through Sundays, through April 15’s Arkansas Derby.

For beginners looking to start their day early, Dawn at Oaklawn returns Feb. 18 at 7:30 a.m. This gives fans an opportunity to see the thoroughbreds train and get a behind-the-scenes tour of the backstretch.

For more information on racing, gaming and events, visit Oaklawn.com.