What is an Exacta Bet? Exacta Betting Explained

When betting horses, a common bet would be an Exacta bet. This could also be referred to as a Perfecta, or Exactor in Canadian races. No matter the term, they all mean the same thing: Predicting the top 2 finishers. You could do a straight exacta bet, where you the horses have to come in the exact order you bet it in (EX: a 1-4 straight exacta bet means the #1 horse has to win, and the #4 horse has to finish the second). The other option is to do a box, meaning that you win the bet if the horses you chose finish first and second in any order (EX: A 1-4 exacta box means that you will win the bet if it comes 1-4 or 4-1). When betting an exacta box, you’re betting two combinations at a reduced rate (EX: If you do a $2 straight exacta of 3-6, it is one $2 bet. If you do an exacta box of 3-6 for a total of $2, you actually have a $1 exacta of 3-6 and a $1 exacta of 6-3).

When betting exactas, you will see the probably payouts for each combination. Most of these are shown as $2 straight exacta probables. Some tracks will show the $1 probably, so you may have to ask or look to see which one your track is using. $1 is the minimum bet for an exacta at nearly all tracks, but you can bet more if you have the money or are extremely confident.

If you are positive that a particular horse will come in first or seconds, you may want to “Key” the horse. When doing this, you will place multiple bets where you bet one horse to win with others to finish in second, and then reverse it for that horse to finish second. For example, you are confident that in a 10 horse field, you think the #9 horse will certainly finish first or second. Let’s also say that you think the #2, #8, and #10 horses could also finish in the top two. If you are betting $1 exactas, you may want to spend $6 and key the #9 with #2, #8, and #10. If you do this bet, as long as the 9 finishes first or second, and the 2, 8, or 10 finishes opposite of the 9, you will win the bet (First: 9 Second: 2,8,10 OR First: 2, 8, 10 Second: 9). You will have 6 combinations, giving you a greater chance of cashing.

Of course, if you aren’t into handicapping or just feel like gambling, you can always pick combinations of numbers that are meaningful to you in some way. An example would be if your birthday is August 19 (8/19). You could do a 1-8-9 exacta box (6 combinations). If any 2 of those horse finishes first AND second, you will win the bet.

Exactas are a ton of fun to bet, but are a little difficult to bet on. Anywhere you go to place your bets on horse, you will find the exacta option. Be sure to take advantage of this betting option, and enjoy it!


How to bet on Horses
There are multiple different horse races to bet on, and many different types of bets offered also. We are here to help explain more in-depth the different types of horse racing bets, and explain how they work.
This was the first type of multi-race wager offered by tracks and is offered by almost any horse track in North America. It is most commonly found as a bet during the first two races of a card.
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