There are tons of different ways to bet on horses. You can bet on either one specific horse, or multiple horses. Look over the list of betting types below to get an idea on which bets you may want to place. There are a few things to keep in mind when placing bets:
Some specific races may not allow certain types of bets such as wins, places, shows, and quinella’s. This will usually happen if the race(s) only have a 4 or 5 riders.
Also, some tracks may require high minimum bets then other tracks. For example, the minimum bet on a Trifecta at Indiana Downs may only be $1; While the minimum bet for a Trifecta at Del Mar may be $2.
If you have a program which has all the races listed on it for the day then it will usually tell you which bets are allowed and what the minimum bet is.
Browse over the different types of bets listed below:
Types of Bets in Horse Racing
Across the Board – Betting on a horse to win, place, and show. If the horse wins, the player collects three ways; if second, two ways; if third, one way.
Boxed Bet – Betting on all possible combinations in a multi-horse wager like the Exacta or Trifecta. For example, a “boxed” Exacta of horses 1 and 4 would cover both 1/4 and 4/1.
Parlay – Using the winnings from one bet to place the next bet.
Win – Simply put, if the horse wins the race you win the bet. This bet pays when the number purchased on a ticket is the winner of the race. Multiple win bets (betting on several different numbers to win) are allowed in each race. Winning odds will be displayed on the tote board for every horse in the race.
Place – For a horse to “place” it must finish the race either first or second. Generally pays less than the win bet but gives you two chances to win instead of only one. This bet pays if the number purchased on a ticket finishes either first or second.
Show – For a horse to “show” it must finish the race either first, second or third. Generally pays less than either the win or place bet, but it gives you three chances for a return of your investment.
In some countries, the Show bet doesn’t exist, so the Place bet will payout for first, second and third place. Some tracks will display the place odds on the tote board, while others will display those odds on the rotating bet display monitors that you will find in various spots around the track.
The following bets are a combination of two to four horses to win in chosen order.
Exacta (Perfecta) – A bettor will pick the first two finishing horses in the order of their finish. The horse picked to place first must win and the horse picked to place second must come in second. The bet only pays if the numbers purchased on a ticket finish first and second in the exact order specified. The Exacta odds will usually be displayed on the monitors around the track.
Combinations of numbers are allowed. These are more popularly known as Box or Wheel. If you think that two of three horses can finish first or second in the race, then you should Box all three numbers for the Exacta. If the winner and the second horse are in your selections, you win.
Wheeling is less costly, but is a more exacting type of bet. Use the wheel bet only if you can confidently reduce the winner to one or two horses. To wheel, you must specify the numbers to win followed by the numbers for second.
2-Horse Box: 2 Bets; Wheel 1 with 3 others: 3 Bets
3-Horse Box: 6 Bets; Wheel 1 with 5 others: 4 Bets
4-Horse Box: 12 Bets; Wheel 2 with 3 numbers repeated: 4 Bets
5-Horse Box: 20 Bets; Wheel 2 with 4 numbers repeated: 6 Bets
Quinella – A bettor will pick the horses that finish first and second. Either one can be first and the other one second. This bet functions exactly the same as the “Exacta” but is a separate bet altogether. The bet will payout if the numbers purchased on a ticket finish in first and second in any order. Quinella odds will be displayed on the rotating bet display monitors around the track.
3-Horse Box: 3 Bets; Wheel 1 with 3 others: 3 Bets
4-Horse Box: 6 Bets; Wheel 1 with 5 others: 5 Bets
5-Horse Box: 10 Bets; Wheel 2 with 4 numbers repeated: 5 Bets
Trifecta – A bettor will pick the first three finishing horses in the order of their finish. The horse picked to place first must win, the horse picked to place second must come in second, and the horse picked to place third must come in third.
Unless you are a pro, you should always Box or Wheel this bet. The payout on a Trifecta bet will always be much higher than an exacta or quinela bet because of the level of difficulty involved. The odds for the Trifecta aren’t usually displayed since there are so many different combinations.
3-Horse Box: 6 Bets; Wheel 1 with 5 by 5 numbers repeated: 20 Bets
4-Horse Box: 24 Bets; Wheel 2 with 3 by 3 numbers repeated: 4 Bets
5-Horse Box: 60 Bets; Wheel 2 with 4 by 4 numbers repeated: 12 Bets
Wheel 1 with 3 by 3 numbers repeated: 6 Bets
Wheel 2 with 5 by 5 numbers repeated: 24 Bets
Wheel 1 with 4 by 4 numbers repeated: 12 Bets
Superfecta – A bettor will pick the first four finishing horses in the order of their finish. In other words, you must pick the horse that wins first, second, third, and fourth. This type of wager can be costly and is not a very popular among seasoned handicappers. You should avoid this bet unless you feel very lucky or you have a Lock winner at a good price.
You should always Box or Wheel this bet. The odds won’t be listed beforehand because of the shear number of combinations.
4-Horse Box: 24 Bets; Wheel 1 with 5 by 5 by 5 numbers repeated: 60 Bets
5-Horse Box: 120 Bets; Wheel 2 with 4 by 4 by 4 numbers repeated: 12 Bets
Wheel 1 with 3 by 3 by 3 numbers repeated: 6 Bets
Wheel 2 with 5 by 5 by 5 numbers repeated: 48 Bets
Wheel 1 with 4 by 4 by 4 numbers repeated: 24 Bets
Wheel 2 with 6 by 6 by 6 numbers repeated: 120 Bets
Advanced Horse Racing Bets
Double – A bettor will pick the winning horse in two back-to-back races. Most tracks will offer an early daily double which involves races #1 and #2. Other tracks also offer a late daily double or the last two races of the day. Wheel bets are common when playing the double. Doubles are sometimes sold in overlapping races. Example: Race 1 with Race 2, Race 2 with Race 3 or Race 3 with Race 4 and so on. The odds for the Daily Double will be displayed on the rotating bet display monitors around the track.
The Daily Double is almost the exact same bet; but it is usually offered on the first two or last two races on a race card. Some racetracks offer this wager more often, but it just depends on which track you are at. Here’s an example of a Daily Double bet: ($2.00 Daily Double #1 with #4) This means the #1 horse must win the first race and the #4 horse must win the second race.
Wheel 1 with 3 others: 3 Bets
Wheel 1 with 5 others: 5 Bets
Wheel 2 with 3 others: 6 Bets
Wheel 2 with 4 others: 8 Bets
Wheel 2 with 5 others: 10 Bets
Pick 3 – A bettor will select the winning horse in three consecutive races. Most tracks only offer one or two Pick 3 opportunities per day. Some tracks offer a rolling Pick 3 where every race is part of a pick 3 bet. The simplest Pick 3 bet is the $2 Straight Pick 3. For example, you picked the #2 horse to win race #1, the #4 horse for race #2, and the #6 horse for race #3, you bet: $2 pick 3 – 2, 4, 6.
Pick 6 – A bettor will select the winner of six consecutive races prior to the first race of the Pick 6. Some tracks place the Pick 6 as the first six races, the middle six races, or the last six races. Prize pool may reach up to $1 million dollars.
If you pick a non-runner in the Pick 3 or Pick 6, you are substituted with the off time favorite in the win pool. What happens if nobody is able to pick all the winners? Then, the payout pool will be carried over to the next time that the bet is offered.
You may sometimes see a Pick 9 offered as well, but this is not as common.
Twin-Tri – The Twin Trifecta bet is a combination of two trifectas in consecutive races. The winning combination in the first leg will be carried over as bets into the second leg. A small percentage payout is done on the winning combination of the first leg.
To win the Twin-Tri bet, you will have to spot both trifectas in succession. This is a very costly bet to Box or Wheel. The amount you intend to spend in the second leg has to be multiplied by the number of combinations in the first leg. If no one wins both legs, the pool will be carried over to the next time the bet is offered.
Hi-5 – The Hi-5 bet will require you to correctly guess 1st through 5th places in the exact order of finish. You shouldn’t place a wager on this type of bet unless you feel really lucky or you get a good price on a “Lock” winner. If you do bet the Hi-5, you should always box or wheel the bet.
The payout for this bet is much higher than any of the other previous bets, but trying to win it is almost akin to winning the lottery. This bet is extremely difficult to win and you will have to place a lot of bets (expensive) in order to bet this properly. These odds will not be displayed before the race.
All Up – This is a betting technique where you will re-invest your winnings from one bet on your next bet. It is either an “all up win” or an “all up place”. You will only want to do this a maximum of 3 times as it will become progressively harder to keep winning.
UK Horse Betting
Betting is slightly different for our friends on the other side of the Atlantic. The punters in the UK will be able to bet on Win, Place and Show (although some racecourses do not offer Show); but in addition to that, here are a few other bets that can be made:
Each Way – This consists of two separate bets: a win bet and a place bet. You will be betting on a horse to Win the race, but also placing a wager to Place. This can either mean 1st or 2nd place or 1st, 2nd or 3rd place. The Place bet will win a fraction of the possible winnings for a Win bet.
Let’s say that you bet a £10 Each Way single on the number 4 horse in a race at 10-1 odds. For this example, let’s say that the bet will pay 1/4 for a Place. You would need to wager a total of £20 because you are making two bets. If the number 4 horse finishes first, you will win (£10 x 10) + £10 staked or £110 for the Win bet and (£10 x 2.5) + £10 staked or £35 for the Place bet. This is a total of £145 on a £20 wager. If the number 4 horse finishes second or third, you will win £35 on a £20 wager.
Each Way bets:
2-4 runners; no place betting allowed
5-7 runners; 1st and 2nd one quarter the odds
8+ runners; 1st, 2nd and 3rd one fifth odds
Handicaps 12-15 runners; 1st, 2nd and 3rd one quarter odds
Handicaps 16+ runners; 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th one quarter odds
Patent – Three selections combined for seven bets (one treble, three doubles and three singles).
Yankee – Four selections combined into eleven bets (four trebles, six doubles and a four-horse accumulator).
Super-Yankee – Five selections combined into a total of 26 bets (ten trebles, ten doubles, five four-horse accumulators and a five-timer)