Horse Betting Wagering Types

Below are the horse wagering types offered on certain races as well as what they cost, payouts, minimum and maximum wager amounts and all tracks offered. We hope this step-by-step guide will help you understand all horse betting.

Straight Wagers (WIN, PLACE, SHOW)

In all straight wagers the amount to be wagered on a horse is the amount to be risked in the play. There is no way one can lose more than the amount wagered. The amount to win on a horse is posted by the track right after the race finishes. There is no way to know how much you will win in a horse bet before the race starts, but you still can have an idea by looking at the unofficial odds which are subject to change depending on various factors within the race, such a scratches, other horses, track conditions, weather etc.


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. Obviously this bet is a little less risky so the return will not be as great as a win bet.


For a horse to “SHOW” it must finish the race either first, second or third. This is a conservative bet but still can be profitable if you pick your spots.

Across the Board

This is a quick and easy way to say that I want to play my horse in all three positions. ($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.

Now that you’re versed in horse wagering types, let’s move on to exotic wagers. This way you can find the enjoyment that makes thoroughbred horse racing one of the most popular spectator sports in the world!

Exotic Wagers

Examples of these are the Exacta, Quinella Trifecta, Daily Double, Superfecta and Daily Triple/Pick 3.

Needless to say, these wagers are all more difficult than WIN, PLACE or SHOW because they require multiple selections to finish in the proper order.


With this bet you must pick the first two finishing horses in the exact order of their finish. In other words, you must pick the horse that wins and the horse that finishes second. Again, an exacta can also be played using multiple combinations. Wheeling , keying and boxing horses in exactas is a popular bet at the track.


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 is exactly the same as the “Exacta Box”. Although the Quinella has the same function as the “Exacta Box” the payoff can vary substantially.

Quinella wagers are entered into their own pool separate from the exacta pool. Not all tracks offer the Quinella wager.


With this bet you must pick the first three finishing horses in the exact 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. In order to have action, at least seven (7) horses must start the race.


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

Daily Double

The daily double involves picking the winning horse in two consecutive races. All tracks offer the early daily double which involves races #1 and #2. Most tracks also offer a late daily double which is the last two races of the day. Some tracks also offer a rolling daily double which is on any two consecutive races. To win a daily double you must pick the winning horse in each of the two races. Multiple combinations can be used when playing the double. Wheeling and keying horses in any leg of the daily double is accepted.

Pick 3

In order to win a Pick 3 bet you are required to select the winning horse in three consecutive races. Many tracks offer the Pick 3 and most even offer a rolling Pick 3.

Keying horses in exotics

A “key” is when you use a single horse to win, run second, or third using multiple horses in front of him or behind him.

Example: A $2 dollar exacta key, the 2 horse with the 3-4-5-6. This means the 2 horse must win the first leg of your exacta and either the 3-4-5 or 6 must come in second to win your bet. The same concept applies to daily doubles, trifectas, superfectas, pick 3's, and pick 4's.

Wheeling horses in exotics

A wheel is when you use a single horse in a position with multiple horses finishing ahead or in some cases behind the horse you are wheeling. In many cases a “wheel” and a “key” can be considered the same thing.

Example: A $2 dollar Exacta, the 1 horse with the 2-3-4. This means the 1 horse must win the race and the 2,3,or 4 must run second to win the bet. Another example might be a $2 dollar Exacta the 2-3-4 horse with the 1 this means the 2, 3, or 4 must win and the 1 must run second. Or use your key horse overall (the rest of the horses). The same theory applies when betting Trifectas, Superfectas and multi-race exotics.

Part wheels

Part wheels are offered at a $1 minimum bet per combination — $2 minimum total cost. Part wheels are when you use multiple horses in different positions.

Example: A $1 dollar Trifecta part wheel the 1-2 horse with 1-2-3 with 1-2-3-4-5. This means the 1 or 2 must win the race the 1-2-3 must run second and the 1-2-3-4-5 must finish third for the bet to win. The same theory applies to the exacta and Superfecta. A part wheel can be used in the pick 3's and 4's but obviously the horses used must win the race.

Boxing horses in exotics

A “box” Is when you use multiple horses taking all possible combinations in that particular bet. If you have determined that two, three, or four horses are the best in the race but you are not sure which one will run first, second, third or fourth, the “box” may be your best bet.

Example: A $1 dollar trifecta box using the 1-2-3-4. This means three of your four horses must finish in the top three to be a winner. Same example applies to Exacta (top two finishers) & Superfectas (top four finishers).

Coupled Horses

Sometimes horses are coupled (entries = two horses from the same stable or owner, Ex. #1 and #1A). Essentially, there will be a 1 and a 1A. Sometimes one of the horses could be scratched but, if they both run, you get them both. So, if you select a horse that is part of a coupled pair (horses 1 and 1A) both horses would be considered as one selection. For example, if you played 1-3-7 as your trifecta and result was 1A-3-7, you win. Also, if one horse gets scratched, you have the other horse regardless of who you selected. If you select 1A and 1A gets scratched, your bet will still stand on the 1 horse