Types Of Horse Racing Bets

The basic types of wagers online are win, place and show wagering. If you bet on a horse to win, the horse must finish first. If you bet to place, the horse can finish first or second. The most conservative wager is the show wager where a horse can finish first, second or third giving you three chances to cash your ticket. Each way betting is so popular in horse racing because of the difficulty in predicting the winner. In football there are only two sides and three possible results, but racing, like golf – another sport on which each way betting is common – has many competitors, with races like the Grand National having 40 horses or more competing.

EXACTA – You’re betting on two horses to come in first and second in an exact order. For example, if you placed a $2 exacta on horses 3 and 5, you only win if horse #3 comes in first and horse #5 comes in second. Exacta bets are popular among skilled horse handicappers because the payoff can be very lucrative. If #19 wins the race, you still win because of those horses being coupled as “the field” entry. The basic types of wagers online are win, place and show wagering. If you bet on a horse to win, the horse must finish first. If you bet to place, the horse can finish first or second. Win, Place, Show. Win, place, or show bets are some of the more common options available online.

Horse racing offers a plethora of different bets from which to choose, ranging from your simple win wager to the white whale of racing, the Pick 6. The foundation of the betting menu is Win, Place, and Show (also known as WPS), which are straightforward and have been around for more than a century, but in recent years more complicated bets, known as “exotics,” have come to dominate the wagering landscape. There are two main types of exotic bets: vertical and horizontal. Vertical refers to bets that are placed on a single race (e.g. Exacta, Trifecta, Superfecta), while horizontal are those in which you’re betting consecutive races (e.g. Daily Double, Pick 3, Pick 4). The following is a list and explanation of all the different kinds of bets you might expect to find at the track.


This one is pretty much self-explanatory. A win bet means you are betting on a horse to win the race. It is possible to bet multiple horses to win (though of course only one can actually win, unless there’s a dead-heat) and there is typically a $2 minimum bet. This is the bread and butter of any serious or casual bettor.


In order to cash a place bet, your horse must finish in either first or second. The payout will be the same regardless of where they finish (so long as it’s in the top two), and like a win bet there is typically a $2 minimum.


A show bet pays dividends if the horse you wager on finishes in one of the top three positions. Same as a place bet, whether the horse finishes in first, second, or third makes no impact on the payout. If your horse is anywhere in the top three, you win.

Kinds Of Horse Racing Bets

Across the Board

This is the term given to betting Win, Place, and Show on a single horse. You’re essentially placing three separate bets, so a $2 across the board bet will cost $6 total, but it is a more concise way of inputting the bet.


The simplest of the vertical exotics, an exacta requires the bettor to select which horses will finish first AND second in a given race in the correct order. For instance, if I believe Horse A will finish first and Horse B will finish second, I would bet an exacta with A in the first slot and B in the second. If Horse A wins the race and Horse B finishes second, you win, however if Horse B comes in first and Horse A in second, you lose because the order matters. To avoid this problem, many bettors choose to “box” two or more horses in an exacta, which allows you to win if the horses you select finish in any order in the top two. Boxing horses just means you are playing every possible exacta combination of the horses you choose, so a $2 exacta box of Horses A and B would cost $4 total, because you are actually placing two separate bets: a $2 exacta with A in first and B in second, and a $2 exacta with B in first and A in second. It is also possible to get creative and use multiple horses in each slot. Perhaps you think Horse A will win but that any of Horses B, C, and D could come in second. In that case you would want to place a $2 exacta with Horse A in the first slot and Horses B, C, and D in the second slot, which would cost a total of $6, as you are actually placing three separate bets.


A trifecta is the same as an exacta, except now you must correctly predict the first three finishers in order in a given race. Boxing is also common practice for trifectas, but accounting for the extra spot adds a layer of complexity that often requires bettors to use multiple horses in each slot. Trying to hit a trifecta “cold,” or in other words using just three horses in the exact order you think they’ll finish, should only be attempted if you’re feeling lucky (or confident).


A superfecta is the same as an exacta or trifecta except that it requires the bettor to correctly predict the first four finishers in order in a given race. Given the abundance of possible combinations, many tracks offer a base wager of just 10 cents for the superfecta.


A Hi-5 demands the bettor correctly predict the first five finishers of a given race in order. It is the most complex bet of the vertical exotics and not for the faint of heart.


Daily Double:

The daily double is the simplest form of the horizontal exotic wagers. Rather than betting a single race, the daily double requires the bettor to select the winner of two consecutive races. The bet must be placed prior to the start of the first race, or “leg,” of the wager, and multiple horses can be used in each race. For instance, if you like two horses (A and B) in Race 1 and just one horse in Race 2 (Horse C), you would place a $2 daily double using A and B in the first leg and C in the second leg. This would cost a total of $4, as you are actually placing two separate wagers (A/C and B/C). Formerly a rare offering at racetracks, daily doubles can now be placed on nearly every race, except the last race on a card.


The pick 3 is similar to the daily double, except that you must pick the winner of three consecutive races. Like the double, the bet must be placed prior to the start of the first race of the sequence and multiple horses can be utilized in each leg. Many tracks offer “rolling” pick 3’s, which means that the wager is offered starting in every race except the last two on the card.


Following the same pattern as the double and pick 3, in the pick 4 a bettor must select the winner of four consecutive races. These bets are often offered twice a day at a track, once earlier on the card and once later.


The pick 5 requires bettors to correctly predict the winner of five consecutive races. It is one of the most popular bets in racing due to its nearly universal low takeout (the track’s cut of the pool) and affordable base (just 50 cents). It also provides bettors the opportunity to wager a small amount for a potentially large payout.

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How To Bet Horse Racing

The most complex of the horizontal exotics, the pick 6 requires bettors to pick the winner of six consecutive races. The bet is the most elusive of all wagers not just because it’s extremely difficult to pick the winner of six races in a row, but also because in many jurisdictions the base bet is $2, making it very expensive to use multiple horses in each leg. In recent years, there has been a proliferation of “jackpot” pick 6’s. These wagers provide a lower base (usually 20 cents), but differ from regular pick 6 wagers in that the entire pool is only paid out if there is a single winner, otherwise it “carries over” into the next day. This means that if you and another person were to both correctly pick all six winners, neither of you would win (though there is typically a consolation payout).There is also a Rainbow-6 Bet that is a special version of the Pick-6.


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