To enjoy betting on horse races, and to effectively manage your wagering bankroll, it is important to understand the wide variety of horse racing wagers now available. Once limited to win, place, show, with a few exacta and daily doubles thrown in the mix, the wagering menus at all tracks have expanded greatly over the last decade.
We now have an expanded menu including Pick 3 and Pick 4 wagering, and a horseplayer has to decide which betting pools to jump into when betting horses online. Getting familiar with all of the different types of horse racing bets will make it more enjoyable and profitable.
The Exotic Wagers
Exactas – Exactas remain one of the most popular of the exotic wagers. The bet involves selecting the top two finishers in exacta order. A common bet would be a $2 exacta box of two contenders, and the ticket is a winner if they finish in the top two positions.
A common exacta wager is boxing contenders, with a $2 two-horse exacta box costing $4, and a three-horse exacta box costing $12. An exacta key is often a preferred wager, using one horse on top of several others if a horseplayer has a strong opinion on who is going to win a race.
Quinella – A similar wager, although with a separate betting pool, involves quinella horse bets. With the quinella wager, the payoff is the same regardless of which horse wins the race, which differs from exacta betting.
Trifecta – Horseplayers looking for a bigger score may want to look to trifecta wagers, which involves selecting the exact order of the top three finishers in a race and while it is harder than hitting an exacta, the payoffs can be much higher. A popular way to bet the trifecta is to box three contenders, which for a $1 unit would cost $6. A four-horse trifecta box would cost $24.
The Banker – Choosing a winning horse while also choosing two or more horses to come in the top positions
Superfecta – Horse racing superfecta wagering has become popular in recent years, and involves a much tougher proposition for horseplayers: Selecting the top four finishers in a horse race. Hitting the superfecta is one of the toughest exotic wagers to hit, but can often lead to a huge payoff if there are a couple of longshots in the mix.
A four-horse superfecta box would cost the horseplayer $24 for a $1 unit, with a five-horse superfecta wager costing $120.00. There are two ways to avoid digging deep into the wagering bankroll when playing horse superfectas. One is to key one or two horses in the win position, which gives a horseplayer more options in the other spots. Another way is to play the superfecta for less than the $1 unit. Most tracks now offer 10-cent superfecta wagering, meaning that five-horse box that cost $120.00 for a $1 unit would cost just $12.00 on a ten-cent unit.
Daily Double – This wager was the first exotic wager, and involves correctly selecting the winners of two consecutive races. Once limited to the first two races on the card, most tracks now offer “rolling doubles” meaning a new horse daily double bet starts in each race.
The Pick 3 – Involves selecting the winners of three consecutive races. It is not an easy wager to hit with a straight bet, but using several contenders in each race can lead to a generous payoff if all three winners are selected. Hitting a Pick 3 can be lucrative, particularly if several of the favorites do not win. (See the daily double link above for a more in-depth look at Pick 3 betting)
Pick 4 – Similar to the Pick 3, only a horseplayer has to pick the winner of four consecutive winners, no small task. Most horseplayers will use multiple horses in most of the races in the sequence, which takes a bigger bankroll, but the payoffs can be huge.
Pick 6 – This wager can have the racetrack buzzing, particularly if the wager was not solved for several days and there is a Pick 6 carryover. Hitting the Pick 6 takes good handicapping and money management, along with a little luck. Having a lone winning ticket in a Pick 6 with a carryover can lead to a life-changing score.
The Horse Betting Options
Thoroughbred – There are three different breeds of horses, with thoroughbreds the most popular among online horse bettors. The betting action starts early in the year, with promising three-year-olds prepping in major stakes around the country trying to earn enough graded earnings to get to the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday of May.
The Run for the Roses is the first jewel of thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown, which also includes the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course and the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park. No horse has swept the three races since Affirmed became the last Triple Crown winner in 1978. The year-end championship in thoroughbred racing is the Breeders’ Cup, which is held in the fall at a different venue each year.
Harness – Harness horse bets are popular among horseplayers as most harness tracks race at night, giving punters that have a day job plenty of action in the evenings. The Meadowlands is one of the most popular harness tracks among online horse bettors, and the Hambletonian at The Big M is one of the three jewels of the Trotting Triple Crown, which also includes the Yonkers Trot at Yonkers Raceway, and the Kentucky Futurity, held at The Red Mile.
Quarter – There is no quicker action than quarter horse wagering, with most races a mad dash on a straightaway in races that are usually 300 or 350 yards and start to finish are less than 18 seconds. Los Alamitos is one of the most popular venues for quarter horse race betting. The California track is home to the richest race in California, the $2 Million Futurity, which is held each December.
The quarter horse Triple Crown is restricted to two-year-olds and consists of the Ruidoso Futurity in June, the Rainbow Futurity in July, and the All American Futurity on Labor Day.