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How to Bet on Horses

How to Bet on Horses - Basic Horseracing Betting Wagers

To effectively bet on horse racing you first have to understand the types of wagers offered. Most online horse betting sites and race tracks offer the popular wagers listed below.

Be sure to check out our Free Horse Picks from resident handicapper Reggie Garrett.

Traditional horseracing betting wagers - Win, Place, Show

WIN - You bet your horse to finish first. If your horse wins you collect.
PLACE - You bet your horse to finish second. If your horse finishes first or second you win.
SHOW - You bet your horse to finish third. If your horse finishes first, second or third you win.
ACROSS THE BOARD - You bet your horse to win, place and show. If your horse finishes anywhere in the first three positions you win.
WIN-PLACE - You bet your horse to win and place. If your horse finishes in either of the first two positions you win.

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Exotic horse racing betting wagers – Exacta, Quinella, Trifecta, Superfecta

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. 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 – You bet two horses to finish first and second in either order. A $2 Quinella 4-5 pays off if the final order of finish is 4-5 or 5-4. As long as your two horses finish in the top two positions, you win. Quinellas generally (but not always) pay less than Exactors, simply because your two selections can finish in either order, rather than in exact order.

TRIFECTA – You bet three horses to finish first, second and third in exact order. A $2 straight Trifecta 4-5-6 pays off only if the final order of finish is 4-5-6. 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 4-5-6 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. 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. You bet four horses to finish first, second, third and fourth in exact order. A $2 straight Superfecta 4-6-5-2 pays off only if the final order of finish is 4-6-5-2. A popular wager among many fans is a $1 Superfecta wheel, in which you selectone 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.

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 paysoff at $100, a $0.10 Superfecta Box would pay $10.

Multiple-Race horseracing 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 4,5,6 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.

Related Articles:
Kenneth Strong's 5 part article on Betting Horseracing
Great article on the in's and out's of How to Bet on Exotics

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