Saturday, September 10, 2011

Structuring an Exacta Bet

[For the beginner.]

What is an exacta bet? Very simply an "exacta" is when two horses in a race come in first and second after the race is over. An "exacta bet" is placed before the race. It is structured by you so you think you have the best chance to win the bet. Structuring an exacta bet can be quite simple or it can be much more elaborate.

Let's take the simplest case. Suppose you handicap a race and come up with a very strong opinion that horse 3 will win and horse 8 will come in second. A straight exacta bet would be placed as (for example) $2 exacta 3 with 8 or more conveniently as $2 exacta 3/8. Depending on how strong your opinion is it could be a $5 or $10 or $20 or $50 exacta bet.

Next, suppose you handicap a race and come up with a very strong opinion that horse 2 will win. However, you find three other horses that you think could come in second, say, horses 1,6 and 9. You would then structure your bet as $2 exacta 2/1,6,9. (We will use $2 in our example.) Three possible outcomes would be a winner with this bet: 2 with 1, 2 with 6, or 2 with 9.

Let's take our examples a step further. If you think that two horses (say 1,3) could win and three other horses (say 1,3,5,7,9) could place then you would structure your bet as (assuming a $2 bet) $2 exacta 1,3/1,3,5,7,9. Any of these outcomes would win the bet: 1/3, 1/5, 1/7, 1/9, 3/1, 3/5, 3/7, 3/9. Since there are 8 possibilities, we multiply by $2 and the cost of the bet would be $16.

Another way to look at structuring an exacta bet would be what is called an exacta box. Let's say, after you handicap a race, that three horses look to be contendors to win or place. Suppose 2,9,6 are these three horses. A $1 exacta box would be $1 exacta box 2,6,9. To win this bet here are the winning combinations: 2/9, 2/6, 9/6, 9/2, 6/2, 6/9. The cost would be (6 x $1 =) $6.

The last example I'll use will be one that involves all horses in the race. Let's illustrate this bet with a one million dollar Grade I race. A race like this usually has very strong (top level) horses in the race, so strong that any of the horses in the race could potentially and realistically win or come in second. To get coverage plus have a chance for hitting a large exacta payoff here is the way you could structure your bet. Say you like the 5 horse to either win or place. You would make two exacta bets. Assuming 8 horses in the race then a $1 exacta 5/ALL (ALL = all 8 horses) would win when the 5 horse wins and any of the other horses come in second. It will cost $7. (Note that the higher the odds of the second horse the larger the exacta payoff would be.) To cover the possibility that the 5 horse might place, a second bet (sometimes called a hedge bet) would be $1 exacta ALL/5 and it too would cost $7. Together you have $14 invested in these two bets.

I have given you several exacta bet examples to get you started. There are numerous other possibilities. Remember to always factor in the cost of the bet versus the potential payoff. Also always stay within the "bankroll" you go to the track with. Here is an article on my blog that talks about the bankroll.

For a more advanced article on the exacta bet go to this link:

To use the 'exotic wager calculator' go to

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What I Should Know About Handicapping and Betting

[I am being encouraged by friends and new acquaintenaces at my home race track to write some articles for beginners.]

What is horse handicapping and what should I know about betting?

Handicapping a horse race is about determining which horse (or horses) could win the race. Betting is about determining what kind of a bet to place and how to configure it. Let's talk about handicapping first. When you go to a race track you can purchase a newspaper called the Daily Racing Form (DRF). The DRF has long been the means to getting a look at the Past Performances (PP) for all horses in a race. If you have the internet you can use your PC to access the PP's before you ever get to the track. Just go to, pick the track and date. Reading the DRF PP's, if you are new to it may seem quite formitable. If you want to become more serious about handicapping and picking potential winners I suggest you study the form (DRF) and become familiar with the terminology in it. Those who do not use the form may resort to tip sheets. These are put together and sold by individuals who rate horses in a race. I have found that if you are at the track strictly for fun then tip sheets may be an easy way to skip the handicapping, use someone elses picks and have fun.

Placing a bet is determining what kind of a bet you will make and how you will structure it. There are many bets that can be structured. 50 years ago when I first went to Saratoga Race Track, close to where I lived at the time, there were three main bets that you could make; WIN, PLACE, and SHOW. Today there are many more bets that can be made at the track, at a simulcasting location, or over the internet. I'll list a few of them. WIN, PLACE, SHOW, QUINELLA, EXACTA, TRIFECTA, SUPERFECTA, DAILY DOUBLE, PICK 3, PICK 4, PICK 5, PICK 6. Each track across the country has some or many of these bets that can be placed depending on the race.

Doing your homework: A lot of homework can be done ahead of time to prepare for placing the bets you will make. As I mentioned before for those of you, especially starting out, you may prefer not to do any of this homework. You can buy tip sheets at the track and rely on someone else's opinions. You can decide whether you want to become a serious player or go to the track just to have some fun. It's up to you.

I hope this helps out the beginner to get started. Here are some links to past articles in my blog for further reading.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Going for the Big Payoff 10-cent Superfecta bet

Betting this kind of 10 cent superfecta requires some careful planning and analysis of a race. It may also require tracking the tote pick in a race. Here is an approach that keeps the expense of the bet at a reasonable cost (say, under $40). Using the tote pick also requires that you be able to place your bet under 2 minutes before the race starts. Here's where using the internet is helpful.

How might one go about constructing this bet? First, let's find a horse in the race to key on. A race where there are 10 or more horses and one of the horses is a heavy favorite might be a horse to key on. If this choice is not favorable then you might choose a tote pick to help out? Doing a tote analysis on a race before hand can give you a horse to key on in your bet. [Check out articles from my blog " " and " ".] Using a horse to key on reduces the cost of the bet significantly.

Secondly, How much are we willing to spend on the bet? Putting long shots into your bet will require your willingness to spend a little more on the bet.

Thirdly, how does one pick high odd horses to include in the bet? There has to be something that gives you an inkling that this horse might have a chance to come in 4th or better. Some of the things to consider might be the following. A particular trainer, or jockey, or jockey-trainer combo might trigger throwing in the horse to the superfecta bet. Don't leave out certain jockey-trainer combinations especially
when a high odd horse has a jockey-trainer combination that is just too good to pass up. Don't forget to look at certain jockeys (even Hall of Fame jockeys) who chose to ride a high odd horse (particularly if it happens to be a 1st time starter with a very good works). These are a few possibilities. There are many more that horse players might use.

Does the number of horses in the race matter? You bet it does. Races with 9,10,11,12,13, and 14 horses tend to have much larger payoff's. After all in these races it's not uncommon to have odds of 50/1 on a number of horses. When one or more of these horses come in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th the payoff can be very large.

Let's put together a sample bet to see what the costs might be. ("ALL" refers to include all the horses in the race.)

(Key Horse)/ALL/ALL/ALL This bet
with 6 horses in the race costs $6
with 7 horses in the race costs $12
with 8 horses in the race costs $21
with 9 horses in the race costs $33.60
with 10 horses in the race costs $50.40

With 10 horses the cost begins to get too expensive. To keep the cost reasonable (say, less than $40) you can put in the five top morning line choices (H1,H2,H3,H4,H5) in the place position. Another choice might be to use Twinspires top Profit Line picks.

(Key Horse)/H1,H2,H3,H4,H5/ALL/ALL This bet
with 10 horses in the race costs $28
with 11 horses in the race costs $36

(Key Horse)/H1,H2,H3,H4/ALL/ALL This bet with 12 horses in the race costs $36

Note that with 12 horses the place position only has the 4 top morning line choices.

Good luck and enjoy. 'til next time.