How To Bet The Exacta

The exacta horse racing bet is one of the most popular exotics on the menu at an online racebook. For many years it was the only exotic bet available to bettors. An exacta requires the bettor to select the first two finishers of a race in exact order. It can be a challenging task to pull off, but the rewards are great for those who are able to do it.


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All About the Exacta

EZ Horse Betting likes the exacta bet for several reasons. It can give you the opportunity to turn a longshot into an even bigger payoff, and it can also help you to get better odds on a favorite that looks unbeatable. When used correctly the exacta is a gold mine waiting to be explored. The problem is that many bettors do not utilize this bet properly.

For starters, a bettor will often use the top two horses by odds in their exacta. If this exacta comes in the payoff will be very small. The amount of money spent on the ticket may not justify taking the extra risk. Bettors also like to box the exacta, or play their top two selections in both places. This is a horrible way to play the exacta. There used to be a horse racing bet called the quinella that was nothing more than an exacta box. The payouts on the bet were so low that it was eventually phased out of horse racing altogether.

Most exacta bets are offered at your online racebook for a minimum of $1. This is in contrast to the standard $2 bet that is required on straight wagers. So, when the exacta is played in the proper manner it can produce a nice return for a minimal investment.

Using a Key Horse in the Exacta

One of the best ways to play the exacta is to use a key horse in combination with other selections. This gives you a greater chance to win than making a regular exacta. To play the exacta with a key horse you begin by picking a horse that looks like it could win the race at long odds. The average key horse would be around 5-1 or better for most handicappers.

Once you have chosen your key horse for the race you will then go about the task of finding other horses that can be used with it. You might want to play the favorite underneath the key horse and hope for an upset. You might want to add in three or four more longshots for a chance at a mega payday. But everything begins with the key horse. This is how it works:

You have chosen runner #5 as your key. The horse is being offered at odds of 7-1 which you feel is generous. You will now build an exacta ticket on the premise that your key horse will win. You choose three other horses – #2, #8, and #10 – to use with your key. So, on paper your exacta ticket would look like this:

  • #5 with #2, #8, #10

The cost of a $1 base ticket means that this ticket will cost you $3. Compare that with simply boxing the #5 and the other horses. Doing it that way would cost you $6. A key is a much better way to make the bet.

At the online racebook all you have to do is check the box for #5 as your selection for which horse will come in first. You will then need to check boxes for #2, #8, and #10 for horses that can come second to complete the exacta.

You will win this bet if your key horse finishes first and any of the other three horses finishes second:

  • #5, #2 – Winner
  • #5, #8 – Winner
  • #5, #10 – Winner

As you can see, you have improved your chances to win an exacta bet by using a key horse. You are getting to use more horses in the mix than two, and this gives you better odds of cashing a ticket.

Using the Exacta to Improve the Price on a Favorite

All smart bettors know that you will never make a living betting favorites at the race track. Favorites only win one out of every three races, and their odds are usually 1-1 or less. Betting favorites is a quick way to the poorhouse.

The problem is that it is very hard to see past some favorites. They legitimately win their fair share, and you will often have no option but to pass the race if you decide you don’t want to take a low price. What if there was a way you could improve the price on a favorite in this situation? You might be able to do that with the exacta.

Let’s say you have a favorite in the race that is 1-1. You also like a longshot in the race who is priced at 12-1. This might be the appropriate time for making that exacta box. You could box the two horses for a mere $2. If the longshot runs first and the favorite runs second, your payout will go to the moon. The reason for this is that most bettors will be backing the favorite in the exacta. If the favorite does win the race and the longshot comes second, you will still get a decent payout because no one is backing the longshot to finish second in the race.

This can be a way to take a 1-1 favorite and potentially claim $50 or more in winnings. So, instead of making a profit of $2, you would be making a profit of $50, which means that you would be getting 25-1 odds on the favorite instead of the 1-1 that the straight wager was going to offer you.

Exactas at the Online Racebook

A great thing about exactas is that they are available at all online racebooks. You can find them in the betting menu right alongside the trifecta, superfecta, and other exotic wagers. There is no special account needed to play this bet when you create an account and start wagering.

Why not sign up for an online racebook account today? We have recommended some for your consideration. You’ll get free past performances, race replays, and more when you sign up. Check our Bovada racebook review, Twinspires review or even our Betamerica review. All great choice if you are in the US. 5Dimes review for folks anywhere! Some will even give you a nice bonus on your first deposit.

Here we list some of the different type of bets for Horse Racing, click on the links below to learn more.


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