An Exacta wager is putting together the top two finishers of a race in the exact order. It is tougher than traditional Win, Place, and Show wagering, but obviously not as difficult as attempting to hit a Trifecta or Superfecta.
There are many ways to place exacta wagers, probably the most common a two horse Exacta Box.
A $2 Exacta Box with the 1 and 2 horse would cost a horseplayer $4. If the race comes in either 1-2 or 2-1, the horseplayer wins. Any other combination, and the ticket is worthless.
Another common wager among horseplayers is a three-horse Exacta Box. For a $2 wager that would be a total cost of $12. As long as two of the three horses finish first and second, the ticket is a winner.
Another option would be an Exacta Key. If you like one horse to win and others to place, you could use the same $12 and bet a 1 over 2,3,4,5,6,7. As long as the 1 wins and any of the others land second, the ticket is a winner.
Another common Exacta Key would be two horses over four horses, which would also be a $12 investment on a $2 increment.
A 1,2 over 1,2,3,4 Exacta Key would be a $12 wager.
Payoffs can vary greatly. If your two contenders are the favorites in the race it could pay less than $12, or in a larger field could return $35 or more. Find a couple of longshots that both finish in the Exacta and the payoff could be over $1,000.
One advantage of playing Exactas is that most toteboards, both at the track and online show Exacta probable payoffs.
Take advantage of this feature and look for potential overlays, or combinations that you think are paying more than they should, while skipping those that are paying short prices.
Handicapper Michael Dempsey on Exacta Wagering:
“The Exacta is probably my favorite wager. The takeout rates are lower than Trifectas and Superfectas, and it certainly is easier to find the winner and runner up than find the horses that will finish third or fourth. Watching the toteboard for probable payoffs will also give you a good idea of what you can expect to make in profits, while you are in the dark with most of the other exotic wagers. I’m afraid of the dark.”