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Racetrack bets and more
Although horse racing is not as popular as it once was, the "sport of kings" still draws its share of bettors.
That was apparent in 2015 when American Pharoah became the 12th Triple Crown winner. Racing fans had been waiting since 1978, when Affirmed won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes, collectively known as the Triple Crown. In each race that American Pharoah crossed the wire first, excitement and bets increased. Although the bay colt has retired from the track, the horse racing industry is hopeful that the thrill of finally having another Triple Crown winner will carry into 2016 as bettors try to pick the 13th horse to take that title.
Not just fun and games
Part of the allure of gambling on the horses is that it demands some study. Fans pore over the Daily Racing Form and track programs, comparing not only the animals' lineages, but jockeys' and trainers' records.
Racing also offers a variety of ways to bet. In addition to the standard win, place and show, a bettor can choose to bet a quinella, exacta, trifecta, superfecta, daily double or picks 3, 4 or 6.
Such a plethora of ways to wager is probably the basis for the old saying that the sport of kings has impoverished a lot of commoners.
That's even truer now that many tracks also have casinos, known as racinos, on the premises. Racinos are found in 15 states: Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia.
When your horse does make it across the line first or your slot machine pull hits all sevens, remember to let Uncle Sam know of your good luck when you file your return.