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How to Bet On Horse Racing
...for dummies

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How To Bet On Horses

One of the most intimidating experiences for a new fan is learning how to place their first wager and how much they must invest. Below are the types of wagers offered on certain races as well as how much they will cost. We hope this step-by-step guide makes your trip to the races a winning experience. Of course, the higher the payoff the more one's attention is attracted. While most newcomers don't realize, the higher the payoff, the harder it is to select the winning combination.

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. Obviously this bet is a little less risky so the return will not be as great.

SHOW For a horse to "SHOW" it must finish the race either first, second or third. This is a conservative bet but still can be profitable if you pick your spots.

ACROSS THE BOARD This is a quick and easy way to say that I want to play my horse in all three positions. ($2 Across The Board = $2 to win, $2 to place, and $2 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. Now that you know what type of bets you will be making you must decide how much you want to risk for the whole day. It is suggested that you separate the money you want to play with from the money you want to take home. This way, win or lose you can find the enjoyment that makes thoroughbred horse racing one of the most popular spectator sports in the world!

How To Bet Horses - Exotic Wagers Examples of these are the Exacta, Quinella Trifecta, Daily Double, Superfecta and Daily Triple/Pick 3. Needless to say, these wagers are all more difficult than WIN, PLACE or SHOW because they require multiple selections to finish in the proper order.

Daily Double The daily double involves picking the winning horse in two consecutive races. All tracks offer the 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. To win a daily double you must pick the winning horse in each of the two races. Multiple combinations can be used when playing the double. Wheeling and keying horses in any leg of the daily is accepted.

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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 is exactly the same as the "Exacta Box". Although the Quinella has the same function as the "Exacta Box" the payoff can vary substantially. You must remember that there is no such wager of an exacta box, it is really two separate bets on one ticket. The Quinella wagers are entered into their own pool separate from the exacta pool. Not all tracks offer the Quinella wager, but to the best of my knowledge all tracks accept the term exacta box where ever the exacta wager is offered. If both the Quinella and Exacta wagers are offered it is wise to check the tote board before making a Quinella or Exact Box wager to see which one offers the greater payoff.

Exacta With this bet you must pick the first two finishing horses in the order of their finish. In other words, you must pick the horse that wins and the horse that finishes second. Again a exacta can also be played using multiple combinations. Wheeling, keying and boxing horses in exacta’s is a popular bet at the track.

Trifecta With this bet you must pick the first three finishing horses in the order of their finish. In other words, you must pick the horse that wins, the horse that finishes second and the horse that finishes third.

Superfecta With this bet you must pick the first four finishing horses in the order of their finish. In other words, you must pick the horse that wins, the horse that finishes second, third, and fourth.

Pick 3 In order to win a Pick 3 bet you are required to select the winning horse in three consecutive races. Many tracks offer the pick 3 and most even offer a rolling pick 3

Pick 4 Same as the pick 3 but you must successfully pick the winners of four consecutive races. This is a relatively new bet and not all tracks offer it.

Boxing horses in exotics A "box" Is when you use multiple horses taking all possible combinations in that particular bet. If you have determined that two, three, or four horses are the best in the race but you are not sure which one will win, run second, third, or fourth the “box” may be your best bet. Example: A $1 dollar superfecta box using the 1-2-3-4-5. This means four of your five horses must finish in the top four to be a winner. Same example applies to Exacta (top two finishers) & Trifectas (top three finishers)

Keying horses in exotics A “key” is when you use a single horse to win, run second, or third using multiple horses in front of him or behind him. Example: A $1 dollar pick 3, the 2 horse with the 3-4-5 with the 3-4-5-6. This means the 2 horse must win the first leg of your pick 3 either the 3-4 or 5 must win the second leg and the 3-4-5 or 6 must win the third leg to win your bet. Same concept applies to exactas, Daily doubles, trifectas, superfectas, and pick 4’s.

Wheeling horses in exotics A wheel is when you use a single horse in a position with multiple horses finishing ahead or in some cases behind the horse your wheeling. In many cases a “wheel” and a “key” can be considered the same thing Example: A $2 dollar Exacta, the 1 horse with the 2-3-4. This means the 1 horse must win the race and the 2,3,or 4 must run second to win the bet. Another example might be a $2 dollar Exacta the 2-3-4 horse with the 1 this means the 2,3,or 4 must win and the 1 must run second. The same theory applies when betting Trifectas, Superfectas and multi race exotics. Part wheels Part wheels are offered at a $1 minimum bet per combination -- $2 minimum total cost.

Part wheels are when you use multiple horses in different positions Example: A $1 dollar Trifecta part wheel the 1-2 horse with 1-2-3 with 1-2-3-4-5 this means the 1 or 2 must win the race the 1-2-3 must run second and the 1-2-3-4-5 must finish third for the bet to win. Same theory applies to the exacta and Superfecta. A part wheel can be used in the pick 3’s and 4’s but obviously the hoses used must win the race.

Approximate Payoff For A $2 Win Ticket


Cost For Multiple Horse Boxes

If you wish to box 3 or more horses in an Exacta or Big Triple here's what it would cost:

Number Horses
Big Triple
3 horses
4 horses
5 horses
6 horses
7 horses
8 horses

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