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Insider's Guide to Racetrack Betting

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Use this handy guide when betting at the racetrack.

Horse-racing season is about to take off. Are you up to speed on betting lingo beyond the straight bets of win (first), place (first or second), and show (top three, baby)? No? These terms are a sure bet if you want to sound like you’re somewhat in the know.

An exacta is the one-two punch of betting the ponies. You pick two, then they have to finish in, yes, the exact order you chose. It’s not your best chance of winning, but your wallet will be much thicker if you pick well. Want to up your chances? Go for an exacta box: two bets, same horses, flip-flop order. If your horses do their job, you win.

If you have some confidence in your picks but not an exacta’s worth, go for a quinella. Pick two to finish either first or second. As long as both of your horses finish on top (unlike in the exacta, order doesn’t matter), you’re golden.

Feeling lucky? Really lucky? That’s a good starting point. Add a horseshoe to your pocket and a four-leaf clover to your wallet, then—and only then—go for a trifecta (or the slightly less confident trifecta box). It’s like an exacta but, as the name implies, you’re going for the top three. Still have confidence to spare? Go crazy and try for a superfecta: a top-four-in-order pick.

Moving on from the single-race betting, we arrive at the Daily Double, Pick 3, Pick 4, and so on. On these bets, you choose the winners of consecutive races. Then sit back and hope your horses take each furlong—an eighth of a mile—in superquick stride.

Any which way you play it, you can bet the outing will be fun. And that, friends, is the only sure thing at the track.

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