What Is An Exacta Wheel in Horse Racing and Sports Betting?
To understand an exacta wheel we need to start with a refresher on what an exacta is. It is one of the simplest kinds of exotic bets available in horse racing - only the quinella is simpler. What you have to do is pick the horses that are going to finish first and second in a race, and pick them in the correct order. An exacta can also be known as an exactor, perfecta or forecast bet.
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Winning an exacta isn’t theoretically difficult, but in reality it can be a real challenge. In an eight-horse field, for example, there are 56 different possible exacta combinations. Only one of them will be correct. To increase the chances of success, then, bettors will often look to bet more than one combination of horses in a race. One way they can do this is with an exacta box. They will pick a group of horses and bet every possible combination of those horses in an exacta. If you box three horses, for example, then you are buying six different exacta combinations. If one of your three horses wins and a second one finishes second then you are a winner, and you hope that the payout exceeds the costs of the bet. A four-horse box would include 12 different combinations. The problem with a box, though, is that you are buying some combinations that are less attractive than others. They aren’t likely to be a winner, and they are driving up the total cost of your bet and making it tougher for you to make a profit. Sometimes, then, you want to bet a group of horses, but do so with more refinement and selectivity. That’s where an exacta wheel comes in.
In an exacta wheel you pick a horse - or more than one horse - that you think is your key horse, and you combine them with several other horses. For example, let’s say that we really think that horse #1 is the clear choice in a race, but that #2, #5, #7 and #8 are relatively equal and will fight for second. We don’t want to box all five horses because we don’t think that four of them stand a real chance of winning - we would be wasting a lot of money. We could instead bet a wheel with #1 over #2, #5, #7 and #8. A $2 exacta box of the five horses would have cost $40. A $2 wheel costs just $8 and includes the combinations we think are most likely to be the winners. By reducing our bet cost so significantly we are in a much better position to win. If we like #1 and #3 to win we could easily include both horses on top of our wheel, too.
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