Exotic Horse Betting: Exactas, Trifectas and Superfecta Tips and Analysis
Nothing says "summer" better than a trip to the racetrack and several ice-cold drinks while basking in the sun and skimming through the daily racing program. Unfortunately, only a small amount of the betting public actually knows how to dissect the program properly, which gives them a bit of an edge when it comes to placing their wagers. Most amateurs or leisure bettors stick to the simple bets like win, place or show despite the potential of a massive payout when playing the exotics. For those of you who don't know what an "exotic" is, it's simply a fancy word for playing the Daily Double, Exacta, Trifecta, and Superfecta.
The main purpose of this article is to help you hone your skills and make good decisions when putting together an inexpensive (or expensive) exacta, trifecta or superfecta. To start, we will look at what each of those bets are and how they are put together.
When you step up to the betting window to place an "exacta" bet, you are wagering on the horses who you believe will finish first and second. If you are very confident in a horse's abilities and believe that horse will win the race, you will likely play a straight exacta with the No. 3 horse to finish first and whichever horse or horses you like to come in second. By keying a specific horse for first, you will be able to tally up the cost of this bet by counting how many horses you have for second place.
For example, a $1 exacta key that looks like this: 3 with 1,2,4,5,6 - will cost you $5 because there are five possible outcomes you can win with. If you bet a $2 exacta on that ticket, then the cost doubles to $10, but you are then eligible to win the entire payout if your ticket is a winner.
There is an option available where you can "box" the horses you like. An exacta box means that if the horses you select come in the top two in any order, you will win your bet.
For example: a $1 exacta box that looks like this: 3, 4 - will cost you $2 because there are two ways you can win your bet. The more horses you add, the higher the ticket cost will be.
One rule of thumb I always stick with when betting exactas is to try and beat the favorite. Because the pari-mutuels are a pool of money split amongst however many winners there are, having the favorite for first will almost guarantee a low payout because of the many duplicate tickets that are sure to be out there. If you can try to beat the favorite, the number of winning tickets will decrease, and depending on the odds the payout should be solid.
The exact definition of a trifecta bet is "a bet in which the person betting forecasts the first three finishers in a specific race in the correct order". This means that you will not only be picking the winner of the race but the second- and third-place finishers as well. A trifecta bet is one of the harder bets to win at the races, but the potential payout is sometimes worth the risk - especially when the race is comprised of several long shot horses and a favorite of 5/2 odds or better. The only downside with being an avid trifecta bettor is that not every race offers up trifecta betting. This usually happens when the field is comprised of five or less horses, in which case the track could stand to lose money should it allow trifecta wagering.
The cost of a trifecta bet differs from track to track, with the minimum stake usually set at $.50. The most popular trifecta wager is the $1 wager due to the high cost of a complex trifecta ticket.
For example, the simplest trifecta bet would use three horses -- one for first, one for second and one for third - and it would cost you a grand total of $1 since there is only one possible winning combination on your ticket. It would also look like this: 3 with 4 with 9 or 3/4/9. The more horses you add to your ticket (in any position), the more possible winning combinations you will have thus the higher cost of the wager.
In terms of strategy, the best strategy to use (in my opinion) when thinking about placing a trifecta bet is to have an idea of how the race is going to play out and how the surface (dirt or turf) is going to affect the race. For example, if the surface is playing favorable to speed-style horses, it may be hard to include a closing-style horse for first or second. Another strategy I tend to use is one where I try to beat the favorite, thus increasing the chance for a bigger payout. When you see a favorite with odds of 8/5, 3/2 or 1/9, you know the majority of the betting public feel that they have their money on the best horse. Most squares tend to play the favorite "on top" (to come in first place in the trifecta) with a slew of horses for second and third. Because of this, the amount of winning tickets that include the favorite for first will typically yield a very poor return on your investment. If you look to beat the favorite and a long shot comes in first and/or second, the chances that people have that exact trifecta combination reduces drastically, thus increasing your payout and profit.
If the goal of the "exacta" bet is to predict the top two horses and the goal of the "trifecta" bet is to predict the top three, then the "superfecta" bet is obviously the bet that predicts the top four horses.
Much like the trifecta, the superfecta is an extremely difficult bet to win, and the more horses you include the higher the cost of the ticket. It's should come as no surprise then, when I tell you that superfecta payouts are often in four- to five-figure range. Depending on the odds, I've seen superfectas pay upwards of $100,000 before. The strategy for superfecta betting is very similar to that of the trifecta, so instead of me rewriting the same stuff, just read above.
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