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How to Bet on a Horse Race

If you are new to online horse wagering this section gives you the advice on how to make your bets and what certain combinations mean. We cover quinellas, trifectas, exacta, win place show and more. This are complete instructions on how to make a horse race bet


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Straight Bets

A "WIN" bet is just what it sounds like: betting that the horse you pick will win the race. You win if the horse wins.

For a horse to "PLACE" it must finish the race either first or second. This bet generally pays less than the win bet but it gives you two chances to win instead of just one.


For a horse to "SHOW" it must finish the race either first, second or third. This bet generally pays less than either the win or place bet, but it gives you three chances to get a return for your investment.

This is a quick way to say that I want to bet a horse to finish in any of the first three positions etc. ($2 Across The Board = $2 to win, $2 to place, and $2 to show). If the horse wins you collect all three bets. If the horse finishes 2nd then you collect the place and show bets. If the horse finishes 3rd then you will only collect the show bet.


In the Quinella, you must 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 Box". Although the Quinella has the same function as the "Exacta Box" the payoff can vary substantially. You must remember that there is no such wager of an exacta box, it is really two separate bets on one ticket. The Quinella wagers are entered into their own pool separate from the exacta pool. Not all tracks offer the Quinella wager, but to the best of my knowledge all tracks accept the term exacta box where ever the exacta wager is offered. If both the Quinella and Exacta wagers are offered it is wise to check the tote board before making a Quinella or Exact Box wager to see which one offers the greater payoff.


With this bet you must pick the first three finishing horses in the order of their finish. In other words, you must pick the horse that wins, the horse that finishes second and the horse that finishes third.

The simplest form of this wager is the Straight Trifecta, which is a single combination of the first three finishers. The minimum bet for a Straight Trifecta is $2. To purchase, simply tell the clerk: "$2 Trifecta on 1-2-3." A Trifecta is not offered in all races at all tracks (refer to program).

NOTE: This wager is also called the "Triple" at some tracks.

Trifecta Box

The trifecta box has a $1 minimum bet per combination -- $6 minimum total cost. You can box three or more horses on a single ticket and wager $1 (or more) on each combination.

Example: To purchase a $1 Trifecta Box using four horses, tell the clerk: "$1 Trifecta Box 11-2-3-4."

The following examples are for a $1 Trifecta Box:

3 horse box ( 6 combinations) Cost $ 6
4 horse box ( 24 combinations) Cost $ 24
5 horse box ( 60 combinations) Cost $ 60
6 horse box (120 combinations) Cost $120
7 horse box (210 combinations) Cost $210
Trifecta Key

The Key Wager requires the Key horse to finish FIRST with any combination of two or more horses finishing second and third. For example, if your key horse is #5 and your other horses are #'s 2, 4 and 6, you will win if #5 finishes first and two of your other three horses finish second and third.

Example: To make the bet, tell the clerk: "$1 Trifecta Key #5 on top of 1, 2 and 3," and the ticket will cost $6. If four horses were coupled with the Key horse, the cost would have been $12, etc.

Trifecta Full Wheel

You may select one or two horses to finish in a given position and combine your selection with all possible combinations. The number of combinations will vary according to the total number of horses in the race.

Example # 1: If you pick #6 to finish first in a 12-horse field and want to have $1 per combination, tell the clerk: "$1 Trifecta 6-All-All." The total cost of the ticket is $110.

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