There are countless ways for punters to wager on horse races, and the options range from straightforward to more complex ones, which promises that there will be betting options to suit each and every taste. If gambling enthusiasts are looking to take their horse racing betting session one step further from the traditional bet types or are merely eyeing more handsome payouts, then exacta bets might do the trick.

Exacta bets are one of the most commonly used exotic horse race wagers, and they can be the perfect starting point for punters who are total novices in wagering on such events.

What Is an Exacta Bet in Horse Racing

Exactas are sometimes referred to as straight forecasts or perfectas, but the first term is the most widely used one. These bets fall into the category of exotic horse race bets, which is to say that gambling enthusiasts will be required to pick more than one horse, and their choice might not necessarily be limited to a single race.

When placing exacta bets in horse racing, gambling aficionados should know that the first-place finish is also referred to as a win, while the second-place finish is also known as a place.

The concept behind exacta bets is relatively straightforward, and what punters need to do in order to make such a bet is to pick the runners that will take the first and second places in the official order of finish in that order. Thus, if we assume that gambling enthusiasts feel like making an exacta bet on horses #5 and #7, their ticket will win only when horse #5 wins the race, while horse #7 comes in second.

Punters should keep in mind that the outcomes of exacta bets are always determined by the official order of finish in the race they have picked. On some occasions, the order in which the horses have crossed the finish line might be changed because the placing judges have noticed a break of the rules. Because of this, punters should not give up on their tickets right off and wait until the official order of finish is announced.

It is worth mentioning that the number of horses in the race is irrelevant to the way exacta bets are settled. All punters need to focus on are the top two finishers in the race, and, more specifically, the correct order in which they will cross the finish line. By correctly predicting the top two finishers in the race, gambling enthusiasts can normally count on larger returns in comparison with the payouts straight bets award.

Types of Exacta Bets

Depending on how much risk they are willing to take, gambling enthusiasts can make exacta bets in three different ways. Much like quinella bets, the most widely used exacta bets are the straight ones, but there is also the opportunity to wheel and box such wagers.

Straight Exacta Bets

Deciding on the correct finishing order of the top two runners is the most basic way punters can place exacta bets, and such exacta bets are also known as straight ones. The example we discussed already shows exactly how straight exacta bets work, and if punters predict the order in which the runners will win and place, they will get a payout. If the horses they have picked finish outside the top two positions or horse #7 wins the race, while horse #5 comes in second, in either case, gambling aficionados will lose their original bet.

Bet TypeRequirements to winOdds of winning
ExactaThe chosen runners must finish first and second in that exact order.Challenging to win

Exacta Box Bet

Boxing their exacta bet is what gambling aficionados should consider when they are looking to enjoy greater flexibility with the selections they make. By boxing their exacta bet, punters will effectively cover all possible winning combinations of two or more horses, which will significantly boost their chances of getting a payout.

Keep in mind that the cost of boxed exacta bets will be higher when compared to the amount punters need to put at a stake when making straight exacta bets because they are making multiple bets at once. In most cases, each additional combination will cost punters $2.

Let’s provide an example to ensure that things about boxed exacta bets will fall into place. Let’s suppose that punters are about to place an exacta bet on a race with nine runners. They think that horses #4 and #6 are odds-on to win and place, but they are not sure which runner is more likely to come in first. Because of this, they will cover all possible outcomes by boxing their exacta bet:

  • 4-6
  • 6-4

Each of these bets will cost punters $2, meaning that the total amount that will be dedicated from their gaming account for their boxed exacta bet will be $4.

If punters decide to make an exacta box on three horses, and include runners #1, #3, and #5, the combinations their bet will cover will look like this:

  • 1-3
  • 1-5
  • 3-1
  • 3-5
  • 5-1
  • 5-3

In spite of the fact that punters will be required to make larger stakes, the returns they will stand the chance yield will still be respectable. It is worth mentioning that punters should not necessarily focus on two horses only when they want to box their exacta bets as it is up to them to decide how many selections they prefer to include. What they should remember, however, is that adding too many selections will not be worth considering because the amount they will need to put a stake will rapidly scale up while the potential returns they might net will be rather humble.

Punters should have in mind that the more selections they add to their boxed exacta bet, the larger their chances of winning will be but the dramatically increased odds of winning will come at the expense of the decreased returns.

Exacta Wheel Bet

On certain occasions, gambling enthusiasts might also want to wheel the field for exacta betting, meaning that all runners in the race will be added to exacta combinations. In fact, exacta wheels are also known as exacta keys, and this is because punters will pick a runner that will be added to all selections and will be the key winning.

There are several benefits of using an exacta wheel, and the main reason why horse race bettors prefer it over exacta boxes is that the amount they need to put at a stake will not increase that rapidly.

There are two ways in which punters can approach wheel betting, and they can cover all runners in the race, which is also known as a full wheel or only cover the selections that most appeal to them, which is known as a partial wheel.

The concept behind full wheel exacta bets is pretty straightforward, and making such a bet involves picking a key, which is the horse that will be present in all selections as punters are convinced that the runner is odds-on to win, thus guaranteeing that they will lock in returns. Let’s illustrate how a full wheel bet on a race with nine runners will look like and assume that punters consider that selection #5 is the prime choice:

  • 5-1
  • 5-2
  • 5-3
  • 5-4
  • 5-6
  • 5-7
  • 5-8
  • 5-9

As gambling enthusiasts can see, the key, which, in our case, is horse #5, is present in all selections, and since every other runner is covered as well, they are guaranteed to get a payout. The outcomes punters have covered are eight in total, and their stake will cost them $16, provided that the minimum bet requirement is $2.

Sometimes, punters might be confident in the chances of winning of one of the runners in the race, but if their prediction about the horse that will take the top place is not accurate, they will not collect any returns.

If punters think that there are two favorites in the race they are about to have a flutter on, they will be allowed to use two key horses. Naturally, if this is the case, the number of covered outcomes will be considerably higher, which is to say that wheeling their exotic bet might be rather pricey, especially if there are more runners in the race.

Partial wheels might also work well for gambling enthusiasts when they are looking to cash in a little bit more. Unlike the cases when punters will wheel the field, and will include all runners in the race along with the key, partial wheels involve picking and choosing some of the horses to take the second position.

Let’s suppose that punters will bet on the same race with nine runners, and once again, the horse they have chosen to key is #5. Still, punters have come to think that horses #1 and #7 are unlikely to take the place, and for this reason, they will combine the key with all other selections. This is what a partial wheel will look like in this scenario:

  • 5-2
  • 5-3
  • 5-4
  • 5-6
  • 5-8
  • 5-9

Partial wheels offer larger returns simply because gambling enthusiasts will not include the whole field and only pay attention to several selections. Additionally, the cost of partial wheels is smaller, and in order to make this bet punters will need to have $12 in their balance. Naturally, the overall chances of making a correct pick will be reduced.

In spite of the fact that many seasoned bettors prefer partial wheels over their full counterparts, it is worth noting that none of these options is the key to consistent wins.

Which Type of Exactas to Pick

Each of the ways in which exacta bets can be made has its pros and cons punters should consider in order to have an idea of what they will be up against. Straight exactas are without a doubt the most affordable when compared to the other options, but making a correct pick will be far more challenging since there is only one winning outcome.

Exacta boxes are an appealing option because the odds of winning are significantly higher since the covered outcomes are more. Yet, because of the larger number of selections punters will cover when boxing their exacta bet, such bets will be more highly-priced.

If gambling enthusiasts are looking to strike a happy medium between these, they should consider using partial wheels. The cost of such bets will not go through the roof, and punters’ chances of getting a payout will still be considerably high. The potential returns will also be respectable, which is to say that horse racing bettors will be able to get the most out of the stakes they make.

Exacta Horse Racing Bets Payouts

Before they add exacta bets to their betting portfolios, punters will certainly want to know how to read their odds and how much such exotic bets will return. As is the case with the other exotic horse racing bets, the exacta bets are built around the pari-mutuel betting system where the odds are based on all wagers that are made on that race.

Punters should remember that the exacta odds will not be based upon the odds that are listed for the races as these are the win odds. Thus, if we suppose that the odds for one of the horses are 5-1, punters will possibly get $5 for every $1 they stake, given that this horse runs by the post first.

This is not the case with exactas, and all money that is staked on such bets will be collected in a pool, different from the pools of the other bet types. After the track or the bookmaker calculates its takeout, the remaining funds will then be divided between all horse racing bettors who have made winning exacta bets. Naturally, while calculating the returns, all number combinations will be taken into account.

Another thing punters should consider is that the standard cost of exacta bets is $2. Thus, if we assume that the total number of exacta tickets that are sold for this race are $1,000, the pool will contain $2,000. Now, if we suppose that the tickets that contain the correct finishing order of the runners are 50, we will get that each punter will collect $20. Of course, the example we just described is overly simplified, and the payouts gambling enthusiasts will get will be less than $20 because of the commission the bookie will charge.

Punters should also remember that the payouts that will be introduced at the tracks will invariably be based upon a $2 bet, which makes it exceptionally easy to work out how much they have won.

Differences between Exacta and Quinella Bets

Because of the similarities exacta and quinella bets have, many horse racing bettors find it challenging to determine where the difference between these two wager types lies. Both bet types involve wagering on the runners that will come first and second in the race, but the difference is that the order in which they will cross the finish line is irrelevant to the outcome of quinella bets. As we explained already, the same does not apply to exactas.

The most obvious reason why inexperienced punters prefer quinella bets over exactas is that the former offer more flexibility. Placing a winning quinella bet will be a lot easier since the horses punters have picked must finish in the top two positions in either order to get a payout. Accurately predicting the finishing order of the runners is far more challenging, and it might be hard to attain even by seasoned bettors.

Boxing exacta bets is an option many gambling enthusiasts prefer to make use of in order to neutralize the odds but what they should remember is that the cost of their bets will increase with each selection they make.

The returns punters will yield when making a winning exacta and quinella bet will differ, and normally, the quinella bet pools are smaller. As we said earlier, exacta bets are riskier than quinella bets, which makes up for the larger returns. is a media website dedicated to sports news and reviews of the most popular sports betting sites. Here you will find comprehensive guides on where to bet on football, tennis, NBA, NFL and information about the most popular betting deposit methods.