Exactas and trifectas are known in the horse racing world as exotic bets. When you make an exacta bet, you are betting that you can correctly pick the horse that wins the race and the horse that places, or comes in second. When you make a trifecta bet, you are betting that you can correctly pick not only the horses that win and place but also the horse that shows, or comes in third. The ability to recognize a promising exotic play is instrumental in improving your handicapping ability.
Exactas & Trifectas
Exactas are useful betting tools because the payout is greater than simply picking one horse to win, place or show. Some handicappers like to pick a favorite and a longshot in an exacta because it substantially increases the payout, especially if the longshot wins. Trifectas offer an even larger payout potential, but the chances of hitting the trifecta are lower. Trifectas almost always include a favorite, but they also offer value when you select a horse with medium odds as part of the trifecta.
An exacta wheel is a good bet to make when you think you can correctly pick the horse that wins the race but cannot quite determine with certainty which horse will place in the race. When making an exacta wheel bet, you must lock in the horse that you think will win the race, but you can then add as many other horses as you wish into the wheel portion of the bet to potentially place in the race.
Exacta boxing is a type of bet that allows you to select as many horses as you wish to win or place. You can think of boxing an exacta as insurance. When you make an exacta box with two horses, for instance, you wager that those two horses will win and place in either order. Which one of the horses that you selected wins or places does not matter, as long as one of the horses wins and the other places. The advantage of betting an exacta box is that it allows you to play multiple combinations of potential race outcomes on a single ticket with a potential for a higher payout because of the difficulty in selecting the horses that win and place. There is an additional cost to exacta betting because for each horse that you add to an exacta box, it will cost you increasingly more money. A $1 exacta box with three horses would cost $6. A $1 exacta box with four horses, however, would cost you $12.
A trifecta box is essentially the same as an exacta box with only a couple of differences. You could box the whole field and play every possible trifecta combination in a race if you wish, but this would be an inefficient way to make a trifecta bet because it would almost guarantee a loss over time. One of the differences in making a trifecta box is that you must also select the horse that shows in the race. Because the chances of correctly picking the horses that win, place and show in a race are usually low, the payout of correctly selecting a trifecta is usually very high and always higher than correctly picking the exacta. The potentially high rewards of correctly boxing a trifecta make it a useful betting strategy.