How to Bet on Horses – Horse Racing Wager Types

Introduction

Betting on live horse racing is not an easy task. There are many different types of wagers that are offered by the track itself, OTB’s (Off Track Betting parlors) and most online sportsbooks. To effectively bet on horse racing you first have to understand the types of wagers offered. We have narrowed it down to the most popular betting types below in order to help you win at the track. Be sure to check out our Free Horse Picks from resident handicapper Reggie Garrett before you place your bets.


Traditional Horse Racing Betting Wagers: Win, Place, Show

WIN – You bet your horse to finish first and if it wins, you cash your ticket.

PLACE – You bet your horse to finish second and if it comes in first or second, you cash a winning ticket.

SHOW – You bet your horse to finish third and if it comes in the top 3, you win again.

Win, Place, and Show
Here is an example of the Win, Place, and Show payouts for the 2016 Kentucky Derby

ACROSS THE BOARD – You bet your horse to win, place and show. If your horse finishes anywhere in the first three positions you win. When you go up to the window, you say to the teller that you want: $10 across on the 5. That would be an example and time saver, rather than saying you want $10 on the 5 to Win, Place, and Show. Get it? It also makes it sound like you know what you’re doing.

WIN-PLACE – You bet your horse to win and place. If your horse finishes in either of the first two positions, you cash.

Exotic Horse Racing Betting Wagers: Exacta, Quinella, Trifecta, Superfecta

EXACTA – This is where you can start making some money. The easiest exotic wager would be the Exacta. You bet two horses to finish first and second in exact order. A $2 Exacta 3-5 means that horse #3 must win and horse #5 must finish second. A $2 Exacta box 3-5 costs twice as much ($4) but combines the two horses to finish first and second, in either order. A $2 Exacta Box 3-5 pays off if the final order finish is either 3-5 or 5-3. The payoff for an Exacta box would be half of the Exacta payout. Exacta betting is a favorite among skilled handicappers and can provide some very lucrative payoffs. At some race track Exactas are referred to as Exactors.


QUINELLA – With a Quinella bet, you take two horses to finish first and second in either order. An example would be a $2 Quinella 2-4 pays off if the final order of finish is 2-4 or 4-2. As long as your two horses finish in the top two positions, you win. Quinellas generally (but not always) pay less than Exactors/Exacta, simply because your two selections can finish in either order, rather than in exact order.


TRIFECTA – In a Trifecta, you bet three horses to finish first, second and third in exact order. A $2 straight Trifecta 7-3-5 pays off only if the final order of finish is 7-3-5. A popular wager among many horse racing fans is a $1 Trifecta box of three or more horses. A $1 Trifecta box of three horses such as 3-5-7 costs $6 but includes six possible winning $1 combinations. The box pays off if your three selections finish in the top three positions in any order. The cost of a $1 Trifecta box is equal to the number of combinations multiplied by $1. A Trifecta Box will pay the exact half of what the Trifecta pays. Trifectas can produce huge payoffs on occasion. At some race tracks Trifectas are referred to as Triactors.

SUPERFECTA – Another wager that can produce huge payoffs is the Superfecta, but are very hard to hit. You bet four horses to finish first, second, third and fourth in exact order. A $2 straight Superfecta 2-4-9-8 pays off only if the final order of finish is 2-4-9-8. A popular wager among many fans is a $1 Superfecta wheel, in which you select one horse to win and a combination of other horses to finish second, third and fourth. The cost of a $1 Superfecta wheel with one horse to win and three other horses to finish in any order in the second, third and fourth positions, costs $6. The cost of a $1 Superfecta box including four horses to finish first second, third and fourth, in any order, is $24.

Exotic Payouts
Exotic Payouts from the 2016 Kentucky Derby including Trifecta, Superfecta, and more

WAGERING DENOMINATIONS – Exacta and Trifecta boxes and wheels are offered at most online betting sites and racetracks as $1 wagers. The minimum bet for a Quinella is $2. Superfectas are offered at some race tracks for as little as $0.10 per combination. For example, a $0.10 Superfecta box including four horses would cost you $2.40. Of course, a lower wagering amount normally means a lower payout. If a $1 Superfecta box pays off at $100, a $0.10 Superfecta Box would pay $10.

Multiple-Race Horse Racing Betting Wagers – Daily Double, Win-3 (Pick-3), Win-4 (Pick-4) and Pick-6



Multiple-race wagers require you to pick the winners of a set number of consecutive races on one ticket. These types of wagers can and do produce excellent payoffs, particularly when favorites fail to win.

The Daily Double, featured on the first two and last two races of the day at many race tracks, requires that you pick the winners of two consecutive races. The Pick-3 or Win-3 requires you to select the winners of three consecutive races. The Pick-4 or Win-4 requires you to select the winners of four consecutive races and the Pick-6 requires you to select the winners of six consecutive races.

Multiple race bets are usually offered as a $1 wager or greater. The cost of the wager is equal to the number of horses selected in the first race (first leg) multiplied by the number of horses selected in the second race (second leg), multiplied by the number of horses in the third leg etc. for up to six races, multiplied by the amount of your bet. For example:

$1 Win-4 Wheel: 1 with 4,7,9 with 2, with 3,4 would be:
1 selection * 3 selections * 1 selection * 2 selections * $1 =$6

It is slightly more difficult to select winning combinations when playing exotic and multiple race bets, but the risk is often worth the reward, especially if the favorite gets beat. These wagers offer the best chance of making a big score at the track for the least amount of money.