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How To Understand Horse-Racing Bets

Don't go to the track or betting parlor without knowing the ins and outs of the various bets you can place.


  • Step 1: Take a chance on winning big by betting a Superfecta: You pick the horses that will finish first, second, third, and fourth. To win, they must finish in the order you chose.
  • Step 2: If you're feeling lucky, bet a Trifecta by picking the horses to take first, second and third. You'll win big if they finish in the order you predicted. Or bet a Trifecta Box, six separate bets that mean you win if your horses take the top three spots, no matter the order.
  • Step 3: Double your fun with the Daily Double: You pick horses to win the first and second races. If both your horses come in, you've won.
  • Step 4: Place three bets at once with a Pick 3 wager; you choose a winner for three consecutive races. Pick 4 and Pick 6 bets are also available at some tracks.
  • FACT: On December 14, 2008, a thoroughbred named Peppers Pride won her 19th straight race, setting a new North American record.
  • Step 5: If you think you know which horse is going to win and which is going to come in second, put your money on that scenario with an Exacta bet. Or improve your odds by going with an Exacta Box, also known as a Quinella. In that case, you win as long as your two horses take first and second place; the order doesn't matter.
  • Step 6: Make three bets in one by betting Across the Board – one horse to Win, Place, or Show. If your horse wins, you receive all three payouts; if they come in second, you get Place and Show; and if they come in third, you just get the Show payout. Because you are placing three bets, your wager will cost triple the minimum bet.
  • Step 7: If you're confident about your choice, bet on a horse to Win. You collect if your horse finishes first.
  • TIP: Minimum and maximum bet limits vary from track to track.
  • Step 8: Less sure? Bet on a horse to Place. You collect if your horse finishes first or second, but less than the Win payout.
  • Step 9: Hedge your bets by betting on a horse to Show. You win if it comes in first, second, or third, but you'll collect only the Show payout, lower than Win or Place.
  • : Make sure betting on horse racing is permissible in your state.

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