Courtesy photo
The White Pine Horse Races, held in conjunction with the White Pine County Fair, are an Ely tradition since the 1920s.

By Dany Feinstein 

Special to The Ely Times

The White Pine Horse Races have been a tradition in Ely since the 1920s; bringing together friends, families and visitors for almost 100 years.

It’s the biggest annual event in White Pine County, attracting thousands of people from all over. The races, featuring both thoroughbreds and quarter horses, take place Aug. 18-20 at the White Pine County Fairgrounds. This long-standing tradition takes place in conjunction with the White Pine County Fair.

What is pari-mutuel betting?

With the White Pine Horse Races arriving soon, we thought this might be a good opportunity to brush up on some basic betting info, excerpted from Wikipedia. Whether you come to race, watch, bet, eat, drink and/or socialize, it’s a safe bet you’ll have a great time!

Pari-mutuel betting is a betting system in which all bets of a particular type are placed together in a pool; taxes and the “house-take” or “vigorish” are removed, and payoff odds are calculated by sharing the pool among all winning bets. In some countries it is known as the Tote after the totalisator, which calculates and displays bets already made.

The pari-mutuel system is used in gambling on horse racing, greyhound racing, jai alai, and all sporting events of relatively short duration in which participants finish in a ranked order. A modified pari-mutuel system is also used in some lottery games.

Pari-mutuel betting differs from fixed-odds betting in that the final payout is not determined until the pool is closed — in fixed odds betting, the payout is agreed at the time the bet is sold.

Pari-mutuel gambling is frequently state-regulated, and offered in many places where gambling is otherwise illegal. Pari-mutuel gambling is often also offered at “off track” facilities, where players may bet on the events without actually being present to observe them in person.

Unlike many forms of casino gambling, in pari-mutuel betting the gambler bets against other gamblers, not the house. The science of predicting the outcome of a race is called handicapping.

There may be several different types of bets, in which case each type of bet has its own pool. The basic bets involve predicting the order of finish for a single participant, as follows:

In Canada and the United States, the most common types of bet on horse races include:

Win: to succeed the bettor must pick the horse that wins the race.

Place: the bettor must pick a horse that finishes either first or second.

Show: the bettor must pick a horse that finishes first, second or third.

Across the board: the bettor places three separate bets to win, place or show.

Exacta, perfecta or exactor: the bettor must pick the two horses that finish first and second, in the exact order.

Trifecta or triactor: the bettor must pick the three horses that finish first, second, and third, in the exact order.

Superfecta: the bettor must pick the four horses that finish first, second, third and fourth, in the exact order.

Box: a box can be placed around exotic betting types such as exacta, trifecta or superfecta bets. This places a bet for all permutations of the numbers in the box. An exacta box with two numbers, commonly called quinella or quiniela, is a bet on either of two permutations: A first and B second, or B first and A second. A trifecta box with three numbers has six possible permutations (of the horses in the “box” three can finish first, two can finish second, and one can finish third: 3 × 2 × 1) and costs six times the betting base amount. A trifecta box with five numbers has 60 possible permutations and costs 60 times the betting base amount (5 × 4 × 3).

Win, place and show wagers class as straight bets, and the remaining wagers as exotic bets. Bettors usually make multiple wagers on exotic bets. A box consists of a multiple wager in which bettors bet all possible combinations of a group of horses in the same race.

For more information on the White Pine Horse Races, please like the Facebook page at, where you will see the official event page, as well. You can also call the office at 775-289-8589.