Types of Horse Racing Wagers (and Your Chances of Winning)

By Richard Eng

Part of Betting on Horse Racing For Dummies Cheat Sheet

When it comes to betting on horse races, before you even place a bet on a horse you need to decide what type of bet to place. As the bets you can make range from a simple bet on a single horse in one race to choosing the winning horses for six consecutive races, you may need to the information in the following table to help you explore your betting options:

Bet Type Your Chances of Winning Explanation and Expectation Suggested Plays (Based upon a $100 Bankroll)
Show Very good Your horse must finish 1st, 2nd, or 3rd; modest payoffs $6 per horse
Place Good Your horse must finish 1st or 2nd; payoffs better than to
show
$5 per horse
Win Average Your horse must finish 1st; payoff determined by the win
odds
$4 per horse
Quinella Average Your horses must finish 1st and 2nd in either order; a normal
play is to box three horses
$2 quinella box using three horses costs $6
Exacta Hard Your horses must finish 1st and 2nd in exact order; riskier bet
that can pay a little or a lot, depending on the horses’
odds
$1 exacta box using three horses costs $6; $1 exacta box keying
one horse with three horses costs $6
Trifecta Very hard Your horses must finish 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in exact order; can
be expensive to play if you use a lot of horses
$1 trifecta keying one horse to win over three horses costs $6;
$1 trifecta keying two horses to win over four horses costs
$12
Superfecta Extremely hard Your horses must finish 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th; hard to bet
unless you have a sizeable bankroll; big payoff possible
$1 superfecta keying one horse to win over four horses costs
$24
Daily Double Hard Your horses must win the two consecutive races; chance for a
nice payoff with mid-priced horses
$2 daily double using two horses in each race costs $8; $2
daily double keying one horse to three horses costs $6
Pick 3 Very hard Your horses must win three consecutive races; it’s a
daily double plus another race; $1 unit makes it affordable
$1 pick 3 using two horses in each race costs $8; $1 pick 3
keying one horse with three horses in two other races costs $9
Pick 4 Extremely hard Your horses must win four consecutive races; chance for a big
score for a modest amount
$1 pick 4 using two horses in each race costs $16
Pick 6 Thinking man’s lottery Your horses must win six consecutive races; very expensive to
play; huge payoffs possible; a home run bet
$2 pick 6 using three singles with two horses each in the other
three races costs $16