Betting the ponies isn't hard when have the lingo down. Though when you approach the book's window for the first time, it can be a bit intimidating—especially if there's an impatient line behind you.
Don't worry about odds just yet. They change up until the start of the race anyway and the complexities of how a horse runs in various conditions on various tracks are mind-bending to say the least. So for now, just worry about the types of bet. For a beginner let's consider the main three:
Win: You collect if your horse comes in first
Place: You collect if your horse comes in first or second
Show: You collect if your horse comes in first, second, or third
Each bet will pay differently, of course, with a bet to win giving you a higher payout than a bet to show.
But for the purposes of a beginner, let's bet a horse to show.
When you reach the window you need to place your bet in a specific way or else the dour bookie will frown at you:
Start with the track name and race number. For instance, “Chruchill Downs, race 10.” Then place your bet, starting with the amount you're betting, the type of wager, and the horses number. It should sound like this, “Two dollars to show on number 6.” You'll give them your money and receive your ticket. Hold onto that sucker for dear life until after the race has finished and you've double checked you are, or are not, a winner.
Simple. Now go to town, and win big.