Exotic Wagering - Explanation Of Bets
by T.O Whenham - 01/04/2008
When it comes to horse racing, exotic wagering generally refers to any bet that involves more than one horse on a single ticket. There are two basic types of exotic wagers. An intra-race exotic involves multiple horses in the same race, while an inter-race exotic involves horses in multiple consecutive races.
Intra-race exotic wagers
Exacta - To win an exacta, which is also sometimes known as an exactor or perfecta on different tracks, you have to pick the two top finishers in a race, and you have to pick them in the right order. The minimum bet for this wager is $2. Though people will often make just an exacta bet in a race if they have a strong opinion about the outcome, it's perhaps more common to involve combinations of horses to stand a better chance of winning. There are several ways to do this. You can box two or more horses, which means that you play every possible combination of those horses. For example, a three-horse box has six combinations of possible outcomes, so it would cost a minimum of $12. Another way to play an exacta is to key a horse in one position and combine it with several others. If, for example, you like the favorite to win you could key him on top of the next three horses you liked. If the favorite won the race and one of your three horses was second then you would win. This is a possible approach to get better value for a low priced favorite that you feel confident about.
Quinella - The quinella is just like the exacta, except you don't have to get the horses in the right order. Because of this it is a less expensive bet to use and can be attractive if you like several horses but don't have a strong opinion about which ones are clearly better. The problem is that the payout is less to reflect the lower risk. You need to balance the risk and reward to ensure you are getting sound value.
Trifecta - This bet, occasionally called a triactor, requires you to hit the top three horses in a race in the correct order. The difficulty is obviously higher than the exacta, but the payout is correspondingly increased. One attractive aspect of the bet is the payout can often be very attractive if a higher priced horse comes in along with two favorites. That can make the trifecta more attractive then the exacta, which would pay little if the two favorites came in. Like the exacta, the trifecta can be boxed or horses can be keyed in one or more of the positions. The minimum bet at many tracks is $1 per combination.
Superfecta - This is the top four finishers in the correct order. In a large field this bet is a bit like a lottery, but the payouts can occasionally be like a jackpot, so the risk is sometimes worthwhile. This bet is increasingly popular at tracks in large part because many tracks have reduced the minimum bet to just 10 cents per combination. For just a few dollars then, a conservative bettor can have a shot at a decent payout. The challenge with this bet, as is the case with any bet that involves a larger number of horses, is that it can be easy to invest too much in the bet, thereby limiting your return on investment even if you do win.
Inter-race exotic wagers
Daily double - Most tracks feature a daily double on the first two races of the card and the last two races. The goal is to pick the winners of two consecutive races. In many ways it requires a similar mindset and approach to the exacta. The challenge is that you have to bet on a race before the pools have opened for it, so you have no idea how the public is going to react to a horse and what kind of value you are ultimately going to get for your bet. The appeal, though, is that the payoffs can often be attractive and the bet lasts for more than just one race - more bang for your buck.
Pick three and pick four - I'll combine these two because in many ways they are similar. The goal is to pick the winners of three or four consecutive races. Like in the intra-race wagers, much of the success in these bets comes from not only consistently picking winners, but from the way that you craft your tickets to maximize the combinations that you have covered while minimizing your investment. Though adding one more race doesn't seem like much, the difference in cost between the two bets can be significant. If you pick three horses per race on a pick three ticket you are betting 27 combinations. The same number of horses per race in a pick four would require 81 combinations. The minimum bet per combination is $1, so the costs can quickly escalate. Take it from a voice of experience - there is no worse feeling in the world than winning a pick three or pick four but ending up with a net loss because you managed your investment poorly and bought too many combinations.
Pick six - This is the granddaddy of all bets at the track. It is the hardest to pick, and it pays the most. It is also the most expensive - the minimum bet per combination is $2, so the cost of a ticket can add up very quickly. It is not uncommon to see people make four figure investments in a pick six pool, but they can be rewarded by five and even six figure payouts if they are correct. There are many ways to approach the bet, but one common way for bettors without bottomless pockets is to find one or two races in which you are willing to settle on just one horse. That can dramatically lower the overall price of a ticket, and can allow you to pick more horses in a race you feel less confident about. It is common that a pick six is not won on a day. In that case, some of the pool is paid out to the people who got five out of six right, and the rest is carried over to the next race day. Carry-over pools can sometimes grow very large and attract heavy action from pick six bettors.