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Exacta Wagering Explained

Exacta Kentucky Derby

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 being the 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.

Bet on the 2018 belmont stakes here!

Making Profitable Exacta Wagers

Payoffs can vary greatly in exacta betting. 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. Or, for more daring horse bettors, find a couple of long shots 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.

OddsShark’s horse racing 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.”