Horse Racing Bet Types

Las Vegas Sports Betting has created this comprehensive resource section to assist both novice and experienced horse bettors.

Win - Place - Show

Win

A Win bet is just what it sounds like: betting that the horse you pick will win the race. You win if the horse wins.

Place

For a horse to Place it must finish the race either first or second. This bet generally pays less than the win bet but it gives you two chances to win instead of just one.

Show

For a horse to Show it must finish the race either first, second or third. This bet pays less than either the win or place bet, but it gives you three chances to get a return for your investment.

Across the Board

This is a quick way to say that you want to bet a horse to finish in any of the first three positions and consists of three bets:

A $2.00 Across the Board bet = $2.00 to win, $2.00 to place, and $2.00 to show.

If the horse wins you collect all three bets. If the horse finishes 2nd then you collect the place and show bets. If the horse finishes 3rd then you will only collect the show bet.


Exacta

With this bet you must pick the first two finishing horses in the correct order of their finish. Sometimes called a Perfecta. Also known as

Exacta Box

A box on two or more horses in a race means taking all the possible combinations of those horses in each place of finish. If you think you know which two horses are the best in the race but you are not sure which one will win and which one will finish second, then the safest bet is to do the exacta box. You can box more than two horses, but it is very important to remember that with each additional horse you add to the box that the cost of the wager goes up substantially.

The formula for calculating the cost of an exacta box is (horses in box x (horses in box minus 1) x dollar amount of bet).

A $2 box of two horses would be (2 x 1 x 2) = $4.

A $2 box of three horses would be (3 x 2 x 2) = $12.

A $2 box of four horses would be (4 x 3 x 2) = $24.

As you can see the cost of the exacta box increases greatly with each additional horse. The examples above show a $2 bet but the minimum bet for an exacta box is $1.

Exacta Wheels

If you think you know which horse will win a race, but have several choices for the second place finisher, you may want to do an exacta wheel. For example, if you think the #4 horse is going to win and either the #2, #5, #7, or #10 horse will finish second, you could place the following wager:

A $2 exacta wheel, the # 4 horse with the # 2, # 5, # 7, # 10

Follow the same formula for calculating the cost of an exacta (1 x 4 x 2 = $8). So it will cost you $8 to do an exacta wheel with one horse to win and any one of four horses to finish second.

You can also do this the other way around by placing multiple horses in the win column and one horse in the place column:

A $2 exacta wheel, the # 2, # 5, # 7, # 10 with the # 4

The examples above show a $2 bet but the minimum bet for an exacta wheel is $1.

Quinella

In the Quinella you must pick the horses that finish first and second. Either one can be first and the other one second. This bet functions similarly to the Exacta Box but the payoff can vary substantially; an exacta box is two separate bets on one ticket whereas the Quinella is one bet. Not all tracks offer the Quinella wager but most tracks accept the term exacta box wherever the exacta wager is offered. If both the Quinella and Exacta wagers are offered it is wise to check before making a Quinella or Exact Box wager to see which one offers the greater payoff.

Sometimes called Quiniela. Also known as Reverse Forecast (UK).

Quinella Box

In a Quinella Box you pick three or more horses. You win if any two of your selections finish first and second, for example:

A $2 Quinella box on # 4, # 5 and # 6

You are making three separate bets so your minimum bet is $6. If the horses finish 4-5, 4-6, 6-4, 6-5, 5-4 or 5-6 you win. You can box as few as three or as many as are in the field.

Quinella Double

A Quinella Double is a combination bet of two winning quinellas in the last two races. To make this bet you select two horses to win and place in either order, in each of the last two races. You must win both quinellas to win your Quinella Double.

Quinella Wheel

You can also 'wheel' your favorite horse, so that it is combined with all the other horses. Based on the $2 value, the total cost of a wheel with, for example, 6 other horses is $12. If you wheel # 2 with 6 other horses in the same race and #2 comes in first or second, you win because you have all the 6 combinations covered.


Trifecta

With this bet you must pick the first three finishing horses in the correct order of their finish.

The simplest form of this wager is the Straight Trifecta, which is a single combination of the first three finishers. The minimum bet for a Straight Trifecta is $1.00. A Trifecta may not be offered in all races at all tracks.

Note: Called the “Triple” at some tracks. Also known as Tricast or Treble Forecast (UK).

Trifecta Box

If you think you have the top three finishers but you re not sure which order they ll come in, then you could do a trifecta box. The trifecta box has a $1.00 minimum bet per combination which gives a $6.00 minimum total cost. You can box three or more horses on a single ticket and wager $1.00 (or more) on each combination.

The following examples are for a $1.00 Trifecta Box:

3 horse box ( 6 combinations) Cost $6.00
4 horse box ( 24 combinations) Cost $24.00
5 horse box ( 60 combinations) Cost $60.00
6 horse box (120 combinations) Cost $120.00
7 horse box (210 combinations) Cost $210.00

Trifecta Key

The Trifecta Key requires the key horse to finish first with any combination of two or more horses finishing second and third. For example, if your key horse is #5 and your other horses are # 2, # 4 and # 6, you will win if #5 finishes first and two of your other three horses finish second and third.

Again, the cost of a Trifecta Key increases with the number of horses you place in the bet with the key horse.

Trifecta Full Wheel

With this bet you select one or two horses to finish in a given position and combine your selection with all possible combinations. The number of combinations will vary according to the total number of horses in the race.

Example: You pick # 6 to finish first in a 12-horse field and you want to have $1.00 per combination so you make:

A $1.00 Trifecta, # 6-All-All.

The total cost of the ticket is $110.00.

Number of horses in race:
8
9
10
11
12
Cost in this Example: $42.00 $56.00 $72.00 $90.00 $110.00

Trifecta Part Wheel

If you think either horse # 4 or # 7 will win, horse # 1, # 9 or # 11 will come second and #2 or #5 will come third and you want $1.00 on each combination you can make:

A $1.00 Trifecta Part Wheel, 4,7 with 1, 9, 11 with 2, 5

There are 12 possible combinations in the bet for a cost of $12.00. To win the bet, the 4 or 7 must finish first, the 1, 9 or 11 must finish second and the 2 or 5 must finish third.


Superfecta

In a Superfecta you must pick the first four finishing horses in the correct order of their finish. Since it s very difficult to determine the top four finishing horses without playing a lot of combinations (which can be very costly), the superfecta is not a very popular bet among seasoned handicappers. If, by chance, the top four finishers stand out and can be determined easily, then the return on the wager is generally very low and will probably be smaller than the amount of money required to hit the winning combination.

The simplest form of this wager is the Straight Superfecta, which is a single combination of the first four finishers. The minimum bet for a Straight Superfecta is $1.00. A Superfecta is not offered in all races at all tracks.

Superfecta Box

The Superfecta Box has a $1.00 minimum bet per combination -- $24.00 minimum total cost. You can box four or more horses on a single ticket and wager $1.00 (or more) on each combination.

The following examples are for a $1.00 Superfecta Box:

  • 4 horse box ( 24 combinations) Cost $ 24.00
  • horse box (120 combinations) Cost $120.00
  • 6 horse box (460 combinations) Cost $460.00
  • 7 horse box (840 combinations) Cost $840.00

Superfecta Key

The Superfecta Key Wager requires the key horse to finish first with any combination of three or more horses finishing second, third and fourth. For example, if your key horse is #5 and your other horses are numbers 2, 4, 6 and 8, you will win if #5 finishes first and three of your other four horses finish second, third and fourth.

Superfecta Full Wheel

You may select one or more horses to finish in any given position and combine these selections with all possible entries in the other positions. The number of combinations will vary according to the total number of horses in the race. If you pick #3 to finish first in an 8-horse field and want to have $1.00 per combination you can make:

A $1.00 Superfecta #3-All-All-All. The total cost of the ticket will be $210.00.

Number of horses in race:
8
9
10
11
12
Cost in this Example: $210.00 $336.00 $504.00 $720.00 $990.00

Superfecta Part Wheel

The Superfecta Part Wheel is offered at a $1.00 minimum bet per combination.

Example: You want the horses #4 and #7 in the win position, the horses #1, #4, and #7 in place position, the horses #1, #2, #4, #7 and #9 in the show position and the horses #1, #2 #4, #7, #9 and #11 in the fourth position. You will make a:

$1 Superfecta Part Wheel (4 7) with (1, 4, 7) with (1, 2, 7, 9) with (1, 2, 7, 9, 11).

There are 36 possible combinations in the bet for a cost of $36.00. To win, the (4 or 7) must finish first, the (1, 4 or 7) must finish second, the (1, 2, 4, or 7) must finish third, and the (1, 2, 4, 9, or 11) must finish fourth.

The cost of the Part Wheel can be much less than the cost of the full wheel, but it requires you to be more selective and do a better job handicapping.

Daily Double

To win a daily double bet you must pick the winning horse in two consecutive races. Your bet must be placed before the start of the first of the two races.

All tracks offer an early daily double which involves races #1 and #2. Most tracks also offer a late daily double which is the last two races of the day. Some tracks also offer a rolling daily double which is on any two consecutive races. You can also make combination bets.

Daily Double Wheel

When you are confident of a horse winning either of these two races but are uncertain of the outcome of the other race you might want to consider the Daily Double Wheel. In this bet you bet your key horse with all the horses in the other race. The formula for calculating the cost of the Daily Double Wheel is (the number of horses in the race other than the race containing your key horse) times the dollar value of your bet.

Example: The race other than the race containing your key horse has ten horses and you wish to make a $2 bet. (2 x 10 = $20).

Daily Double Part-Wheel

The Daily Double Part-Wheel bet is a step further than Daily Double Wheel. It allows you to exercise your handicapping skills to eliminate all horses that you think will not win the race. This will reduce the size of your investment.

Example: Like the Daily Double Wheel example above, you have a key horse in one race and ten horses in the other race. But you have decided that only five of the ten horses have a chance of winning their race. So, by doing a daily double part wheel, you have one horse in combination with five horses and if you wish to bet a $2 bet your cost would be (2 x 5 = $10). You will save yourself $10 over the full wheel bet and hopefully you won t throw out the winning horse!


Pick 3 and Pick 4

To win a Pick 3 bet you need to select the winning horse in three consecutive races. Most tracks only offer one or two Pick 3 opportunities per day. Some tracks offer a rolling pick 3 in which every race is part of a Pick 3 bet.

The simplest Pick 3 bet is the $2.00 straight Pick 3. For example, if you think the #2 horse will win the first race, the #4 horse will win the second race and the #6 horse will win the third race, you would make the following bet:

$2.00 Pick 3: # 2, # 4, # 6.

Pick 3 Part Wheel

The Pick 3 Part Wheel bet allows you to single out your favorite horses in one or two races and combine them with several good paying horses in other races in an attempt to hit a nice payout. To increase the probability of winning a Pick 3 you may want to play multiple combinations by selecting more than one horse in one or more of the three races.

Pick 4

This wager requires the player to pick the winners of four consecutive races. Some race tracks have a rolling pick 4 which is when the player must pick four races in a row and it continues for the next four races.

Special note on Pick 3 and 4 bets

All PK3 and PK4 tickets are paid out based on the official race results as published by the track at which the race was run the following. We do not recognize any 2 out of 3 special Pick 3 payouts or any 3 out of 4 special Pick 4 track payouts).

If there is a scratched horse in any PK3 or PK4 selection wagers will be refunded.

There will be no consolation payouts.


Future Wagering

Future Bets in horse racing can be great fun. Trying to find the Kentucky Derby winner in March, or the Breeders' Cup Classic winner in August, can be challenging and rewarding.

There are two types of Kentucky Derby Future bets. One is the three pools conducted by Churchill Downs with 23 betting interests. The wagering starts on a Thursday and runs through Sunday of that weekend. The prices close on Sunday and you don't know your final odds until the wagering closes. It is basically a pari-mutuel futures wagering pool.

It can be tricky to find real value with just 24 betting interests (23 individual horses and the 24th is the field or remaining horses). But Barbaro did pay handsomely last year. Those backing the colt in the first pool received a $40.20 payoff for a $2 wager. In Pool 2 he paid $32.20, and in Pool 3 he returned $20.80.

On Derby Day the colt returned $14.20.

The better way to play horse racing futures is either going offshore or heading to Las Vegas to the sportsbook. Instead of having just 24 betting interests, some racebooks have hundreds of three-year-olds listed. You can shop around between the books for the best price, and once you punch your ticket your price is locked in.

Futures for the Breeders' Cup start popping up in late summer and once again if you shop around for the best prices you can usually find value in just about every race.

The one downside to betting on the futures is that a portion of your wagering bankroll is tied up for weeks or months.

And there are no guarantees your horse even makes it to the starting gate. The Kentucky Derby is limited to 20 starters and you can see your futures horse not make it to the starting gate due to an injury or just a lack of graded stakes winnings. Or a lack of talent.

There are no refunds. If your horse does not make the race, you can rip up your ticket before the gate opens.

When playing the Futures, make sure you look for value. There really is no reason to tie up your betting dollars unless you can uncover a promising runner that you can get at very attractive odds.


Match Ups

Horse Matchups are a relatively new wager for horseplayers to ponder. It's simply a Matchup between two horses in a particular race. Some racebooks offer these on a daily basis at major tracks, but mostly they are available for major horse racing events like the Triple Crown races and the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.

Instead of handicapping an entire field, it comes down to the handicapper deciding between two horses. Similar to a money line on a sporting event, there is usually a favorite and an underdog.

An example would be a Matchup that was available for the 2006 Breeders' Cup Classic. Bettors could decide between backing Bernardini at -125 or go with the underdog Invasor at +105.

In this wager a bettor would have to put up $125 to collect $225 backing Bernardini. Or going with the underdog, a bettor could back Invasor, putting up $100 to collect $205 for a win.

Of course, to win your wager your horse actually does not have to win the race. The horse you backed just needs to finish in front of the other horse in the Matchup wager. Your horse could finish sixth, and as long as the other runner finished seventh or worse, you cash your wager.

Matchup wagers can be utilized by horseplayers when they have a strong opinion for a particular horse or a strong opinion against another horse.

An astute handicapper can take advantage of pace scenarios that might put one of the two at a big disadvantage. While the race may not set up for your choice to win the race, you might find a situation where your choice has a decided edge over the opponent in the Matchup.

For instance, you might side with a closer while the opponent you are trying to beat is a speed horse in a race loaded with early speed. While the speed horse is dueled into submission and fades, your choice rallies up to pass the tired foe late. Your horse does not have to win the race. As long as your choice gets by the opponent in the Matchup, you cash your ticket!

    


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