Fantasy Horse Racing

Fantasy horse racing contests provide the thrill of handicapping while simultaneously minimizing the inherent risk. You get a chance to win real money on horse races, but you’re not required to place numerous, potentially expensive wagers. Pay one entry fee and you now have a stake in multiple races with the potential to win a lucrative payout.

Where to Try a Fantasy Horse League Now:

No bonuses offered currently18/21+ to Play, T&Cs Apply

Once you pay the fee to join a fantasy racing contest, you’re taken to a page where you place mythical wagers on 8 or more upcoming races, usually hosted at the same racetrack. In some contests, you place win wagers only while in other contests, you can choose between win, place, show and exacta wagers. In each race, you pick one horse (and maybe an alternate) and place one wager.

Your handicapping bankroll exists in theory only. Whenever one of your mythical wagers comes in, your virtual bankroll grows by an amount equal to that wager’s actual track odds. The person with the largest virtual bankroll at the end of the tournament is declared the winner and is paid real money.

Smaller tournaments only pay the overall winner wile larger tournaments offer payouts for 1st, 2nd, 3rd place and so on. In any case, your goal is to make smart selections and amass a larger bankroll than your competitors.

The strategy for horse handicapping tournaments is not the same as the strategy for straight up horse betting. You’re not just trying to win a little cash for yourself; you’re trying to beat the competition. In larger contests, it pays to be aggressive because there are so many people to beat. Longshots play a vital role in larger tournaments. In smaller contests with fewer people, it pays to be more conservative because a smaller ending bankroll is enough to place well. Longshots lose their value in tournaments with fewer contestants.

This is just one example of how the strategy changes when you play at a fantasy horse racing site. It is most definitely not a game of luck. It is a competition that requires risk management in addition to traditional handicapping skills. The better you are at identifying winners and plotting a strategy for beating your competitors, the better your results.

Best Fantasy Horse Sites

Fantasy horse racing is a very niche hobby so there are not a ton of options. Below is a look at some of the bigger name sites capable of hosting tournaments with worthwhile prizes.

betamerica BetAmerica is a well-known horse racing betting site that also dabbles in real money fantasy sports. Recently, BetAmerica added fantasy horse contests in which you choose 2 horses (1 primary and 1 alternate) in each of 10 upcoming races. Points are accrued based on your picks’ performances in each race. Accumulate more points than the competition and you earn a payout.

Visit at: DerbyWars is the most polished fantasy racing site. It’s easy to use and hosts contests at least five times a week. The frequency of contests here is a major advantage over competing sites that typically only hold contests over the weekend or during major events.

Contest buyins at range from just a few dollars to upwards of $1,000 during special events. One of their biggest recent tournaments was the $875 24-race handicapping tourney hosted on December 26th. This one covered 24 races and paid out a total of $100,000 in prizes. First place took home nearly $50,000.

DerbyWars is the largest fantasy horse racing site of the bunch. It has the greatest frequency of races, most intuitive software, largest selection of contests and fairly frequent NHC qualifier events. Most importantly, the site is backed by a reputation for security and fast payouts.

Visit at: is a for-fun website that hosts both private and public leagues for 2-12 players who each manage their own stable. A stable consists of 10 horses, 2 trainers and 2 jockeys and points are awarded based on prize money earned.

The cool thing about this site is that they have an effective method for awarded points to all members of a stable. Winning horses are paid whatever portion of the purse they earn in real life while jockeys and trainers earn 10% of purses of their winning horses (even if their horses aren’t in your stable). Jockeys and trainers who win with horses in your stable get an additional 15% purse bonus.

The only downside here is that no real money prizes are awarded. This fantasy site exists solely for the love of the sport.

Visit at: is free to join but does offer a few prizes at the end of the racing season to the top 10 global leaderboard competitors. Last year’s first place finisher won a VIP trip for two to the Breeder’s Cup complete with airfare, lodgings, tickets and a $100 wagering voucher.

Each week, takes the biggest horse racing event in North America and has everyone place one mythical wager out of four possible wagering options:

  • $20 to Win
  • $20 to Place
  • $20 to Show
  • $10 Exacta Box

This process repeats each week during the league. Leaderboard standings are based upon each member’s fantasy bankroll. The person with the largest virtual bankroll at the end of the league is declared the winner.

Visit at:

Difference Between Fantasy Competitions and Handicapping Tournaments

To clear up any confusion, there is one distinct difference between the fantasy competitions described above and handicapping tournaments: handicapping tournaments involve live wagers and not just fantasy wagers.

If you visit an actual horse betting website and enter a handicapping tournament, you will pay an entry fee to join the tournament and then place real wagers during the course of the tournament. Any money that you win or lose during the course of the tournament is actual cash either added to or subtracted from your bankroll. Whoever makes the most real money during the tournament wins the tournament prize in addition to any personal winnings.

The only “live” money you risk in a fantasy tournament is the entry fee that you pay to enter. From that point on, any wagers that you place during the contest are for virtual cash only. The winners are determined based on how much theoretical money they won over the series of races.

For example, the fantasy horse racing contests at (a legal racing betting website) cost a set fee and then give you a mythical bankroll to pick your horses in 10 different races. The one-time entry fee is all you risk in real money. All other wagers placed during the handicapping contest are made with virtual money that exists only for the purpose of the tournament.