What Is An Exacta, Trifecta, Superfecta In Horse Racing Betting?

Written By Eli Hershkovich on May 15, 2023
horse racing betting

Each year, horse racing betting for Triple Crown events attract sizable crowds and are among the most popular sports wagering events of the calendar year. The Preakness comes this Saturday, and the Belmont Stakes is three weeks after that.

Many people like to place exotic wagers because they pay out more, but what are these types of bets in horse racing betting? Let’s dive into the purpose of the exacta, trifecta, and superfecta and how to approach it.

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What Are Exotics In Horse Racing Betting?

Whether you’re a casual or avid horse racing bettor, you may consider adding exotics to your betting card. These wagers are a bit more intricate than the standard Win (first place), Place (second place), and Show (third place) bets.

In general, exotics are available for single races and multiple races. The single-race exotics are the most well known and are listed below:

  • Exacta: pick the first place and second place finishers in order
  • Trifecta: pick the first place, second place and third place finishers in order
  • Superfecta: pick the first place, second place, third place and fourth place finishers in order

Moreover, these three exotics in horse racing betting are eerily similar to same game parlays for other sports. They involve more than a Win, Place, or Show wager on a single horse. These bets pay more, but they may cost more to place in the process.

What time does the Preakness Stakes begin?

Straight Or Box Wager

Some bettors place straight exotic bets, which insinuates that each of the horses must finish in the selected place. Bettors can choose to “box” the horses. For example, if you bet an exacta box, your horses can finish in any order, as long as you have the first and second-place finishers. Mind you, the more horses you add, and the more your ticket will cost.

Here’s a trifecta box example. A bettor can bet the “1”, “2” and “4” horses to finish first, second and third, respectively. Each horse must finish in the specific position for the bet to win (1-2-4). If they finish 2-4-1, you lose, unless you boxed the wager.

The process of boxing horses is simple. If you are betting at the track, just tell the window you want an exacta box, trifecta box or superfecta box.

You may also add different numbers of horses to each finishing position. Nothing is stopping you, for example, from having one horse in the first-place spot, two in the second-place position and five in the third-place position. Betting machines at the track and horse racing betting apps will automatically calculate the cost of the ticket. So you can play around with combinations and see the ticket price. Horse racing calculators also help with this. But once again, more horses involved with each exotic bet will make each wager more expensive to place.

What’s The Catch?

Payouts for exotic bets can be large, in particular for the Kentucky Derby, because there are 20 horses in the field. Each exotic betting pool is built differently — based on how much money was initially wagered.

Moreover, the winnings are ponied up by utilizing the total amount wagered in the pool — whether it’s an exacta, trifecta, or superfecta — and subtracting the track takeout. Then, you divide the remainder of the money by the number of winning tickets. The higher the odds of the horses in your winning exotics ticket, the higher the payout.

Beware though, because the lower the odds of the horses in your ticket, the lower the payout. It is possible to have a winning ticket with too many horses payout less than the amount you paid for the ticket.

Projecting the exact winning price is a near-impossible assignment, but a decent estimate is to multiple the odds of the horses on your ticket. For exact odds, horse racing tracks and apps provide “will-pay” tables on their screens for exactas, trifectas and superfectas.

However, you can be sure money is dished out when there’s at least one horse with longer odds in the winning exacta, trifecta, or superfecta. Essentially, if a longshot horse is included and delivers a fine result, the greater the payout.

This notion makes sense since there are fewer bettors wager on these horses. Hence, there are fewer winners on any of these exotic bets, and each winning exotic will pay out more to the winners.

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