Exotic wagers allow you to bet on multiple horses in a single bet, allowing you to increase your profit potential. But as I mentioned above, they’re much harder to win than straight bets, can get expensive if you’re not careful, and require much more skill in handicapping horses. Feel free to experiment with some exotic wagers after you’ve done a few straight bets.
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 can only collect 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. You can also “box” your exacta bet which means your two horses can come in any order in the top two spots and you still win. Boxing an exacta costs twice as much as a straight exacta bet. So a $2 box exacta on horses 3 and 5 will cost you $4.
QUINELLA – With a quinella bet, you’re betting on two horses to come in first and second in any order. As long as your two horses finish in the top two spots, you win. So if you placed a $2 quinella bet on horses 1 and 6, you can collect if horse #1 and horse #6 come in first and second in any order. You might be thinking, “What’s the difference between a quinella and a box exacta? Both let you win if your two horses come in first or second.” The big difference is cost: a $2 quinella bet costs $2 while a $2 box exacta bet will cost you $4. Why would someone pay more for a box exacta if it’s essentially the same bet as a quinella? The payout for a box exacta is generally more than a quinella bet, that’s why.
TRIFECTA – You bet that three horses will finish in first, second, and third in an exact order. If you place a $2 trifecta bet on 1-5-7, you can only collect if horse #1 comes in first, horse #5 comes in second, and horse #7 comes in third. You can also box your trifecta bet so you can win if your three horses come in first, second, and third in any order. Boxing a trifecta will significantly increase the cost of your bet because there are many combinations. So a $2 box trifecta bet will actually cost you $12 or a $1 trifecta boxed will cost you $6.
SUPERFECTA – You bet that four horses will finish, first, second, third, and fourth in an exact order. As with exactas and trifectas, you can box a superfecta at an additional cost. The minimum bet is often 10-cents, which makes it more appealing to many people.
I’m not going to get into “keying” horses with these exotic bets. That’s a little bit too advanced for our purposes here. Basically, keying horses allows you to minimize your wager, while increasing your payout if you pick your horses right. It’s something that I’d look into once you get comfortable handicapping horses with exotic wagers.